Who’s Your Favorite to Win Right Guard Battle for the Atlanta Falcons?

Tons of Possibilities, Major Improvement Needed

Falcons selected Peter Konz in the second round of the NFL draft on Thursday. (Associated Press)

A Permanent Move to RG? (AP)

It was a strategic risk to let Harvey Dahl go to St. Louis in free agency last summer. The belief was that Dahl was the most expendable between all three free agent candidates of Justin Blalock, Tyson Clabo, and Dahl. Dahl was the oldest and had the least upside of the three. The feeling was that it would be impossible to keep all 3 in one off-season (an argument that rings somewhat hollow with them keeping Dunta Robinson, Brent Grimes, and now Asante Samuel). The Falcons front office trusted they had enough young talent on the roster to fill the gap with an tough competition in camp.

Right guard was one of the Falcons most glaring weaknesses in 2011. An open competition between Garrett Reynolds and Mike Johnson yielded Reynolds as the opening day starter. The right guard position became an immediate and extremely apparent weakness from the very beginning. Reynolds, never seeming a good fit at guard, was beaten readily and handily and soon gave way to Mike Johnson for a brief stint. Johnson was thought to be the front-runner in camp until a concussion sidelined him and essentially took him out of the competition. Johnson was put on IR after an ankle injury (?) in Detroit. Sam Baker, returning from injury and losing his left tackle job outright to Will Svitek, tried his hand at guard and was also a trainwreck. Thought to be the heir at center, Joe Hawley was moved to right guard and helped stabilize the position somewhat earning 12 starts. However, even Hawley had major struggles at times.

Of all the position battles in camp, this one appears to be the most competitive and most needed for improvement if the Falcons are going to improve on their overall very poor offensive line play from a year ago. A look at the candidates and their respective chances at earning the right guard spot……

Mike Johnson

Many fans are hoping that Johnson finally lives up to the potential that he held at the University of Alabama, helping pave the way for Mark Ingram to win the Heisman Trophy and winning the National Championship with an undefeated record. Johnson was thought by many to be the lead candidate to take over for Harvey Dahl when he was allowed to walk to St. Louis in free agency. At the time he held the record for most starts by any Alabama Crimson Tide player in its insanely rich history. He played many spots in Tuscaloosa including both guard spots and both tackle spots.

Can Johnson Get Back to His Tide Heydays? (AP)

An early concussion in training camp really set him back and he never seemed to be the same since. He had a brief stint playing in two games but was then put on Injured Reserve for an injured ankle. Johnson reportedly fell out of favor with former OL coach Paul Boudreau, but there never seems to be any proof of that. Hopefully, Johnson will come in with a chip on his shoulder and earn the RG spot and justify his 3rd round pick a few years ago. Chances – Decent

Peter Konz

The debate here in The Bird Cage has raged the last few days with the idea that Peter Konz appears (perhaps a wrong impression) to be training for the right guard competition fairly exclusively. Obviously, not a whole lot can be gathered from a 3 day rookie mini-camp in shorts, but the Falcons staff have gone out of their way to say that Konz will compete for both center and guard. If Konz is the best guard candidate and he wins that competition, than so be it. But there is a feeling among Falcons fans that the staff may be unnecessarily cross-training a candidate for another position because they feel either he really has a long-term future there, will be the best combination for this unit in 2012, or don’t have that much confidence in all the other candidates competing for right guard.

The idea of cross-training is a very good one, but as in the case of Garrett Reynolds playing guard, sometimes it just doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. Even though Konz surely can play guard, he made his hay at Wisconsin at center, where he was unanimously considered to be the very best center in the entire draft. The idea many worry about is that cross-training can sacrifice quality. Wherever he is best, most believe he should go ahead and play that position as a rookie. Otherwise, you’re looking at once again having to train new players for two positions if he moves back to center as opposed to one (RG) or possibly none in 2013. Todd McClure is a future Ring of Honor candidate and will go down as one of the best Falcons in franchise history, but he’s 35 and his play has definitely gone down the last few years. He was signed to a one-year contract, so if the Falcons move Konz to right guard just to allow McClure to start at center, questions on “true competition” will definitely arise, not to mention having to do it all over again next year. Chances – Very High

Vince Manuwai

Before the Falcons traded for Asante Samuel, the signings of Manuwai and Lofa Tatupu were the Falcons biggest moves. Manuwai’s story is well-documented in that he was a very good right guard while in Jacksonville, suffered an injury at a very inopportune time, and was subsequently hurt by the lockout. Manuwai never had a chance to heal or work with trainers, so Jacksonville simply cut ties with him instead of having to wait for his rehabilitation and take up an extra roster spot. Manuwai is the big unknown. It was a very low-risk, potentially high-reward pickup that can have very little downside. Manuwai started all but 6 games while in Jacksonville (excluding 2008 when he was lost for the year) since 2003.

Manuwai Could Add Some Beef (AP)

Falcons fans who crave a big ol’ boy offensive line would love Manuwai to get back to his old self and allow for a potentially massive offensive line not short on beef up front. However, Manuwai will turn 32 years old in July and would be nothing more than a short-term fix even in the best case scenario. Manuwai has been completely out of football for over a full year and is still a longshot to not only start, but make the roster. If Manuwai doesn’t earn the starting job and has guys younger than him even close to him, you have to think the staff will go with the younger guy. It would be awesome to plug Manuwai and his old form into the starting lineup, but it doesn’t seem likely. Chances – Longshot

Andrew Jackson

Jackson is a big unknown in this competition. He was drafted out of Fresno State last year and was a very good prospect that got an injury at a bad time and that hurt his draft stock, falling all the way to the 7th round. Jackson was one of the best offensive linemen in the WAC and was poised to contend for All-America honors as a senior before it was cut short due to injury. Jackson was considered a main reason RB Ryan Matthews had such a great year and was then drafted in the first round. Many sites considered him a potential fourth round pick before his injury as a senior.

Will Jackson's Size Hurt Him? (AP)

Jackson is a very intriguing prospect. First of all, he may have at least a small leg up on the others coming from Fresno State and playing under new offensive line coach and former Fresno State head coach Pat Hill. Second, Jackson may be one of the smartest offensive linemen on the team. He earned high marks for football intelligence, but also won several honors of Academic All-American. Jackson is a gritty and tough player with a nasty streak that will surely serve him well in the competition. He didn’t make the 53 man roster, but did make the practice squad and will definitely push for at least a backup spot on the team. The former Bulldog has good height, but is well under 300 pounds and that may come into play when going against big-bodied DT’s. Adding some weight would probably serve him well. Jackson is probably a favorite to make the team, but still a longshot to earn the starting spot. Chances – Longshot

Joe Hawley

If Hawley was thought of as a major candidate to fill the right guard position, then he certainly would an inside track on the rest of the competition. The turnstile that was the right guard spot last year, Hawley finally added some stabilization to the offensive line. Garrett Reynolds started the year and was dreadful (although we should question not the player necessarily, but the brainchild to start a guy who’s exclusively played right tackle his entire career to guard). Reynolds gave way to Mike Johnson for a few snaps only to see him go on the injured reserve soon after. Then Sam Baker tried his hand at right guard after coming back from injury and outright losing his starting right tackle spot to Will Svitek. Baker also looked downright awful as well, almost single-handedly giving up a big safety on Matt Ryan in the process.

Definitely Stabilized the RG Spot (AJC)

Finally, they moved Joe Hawley from his normal and natural center position to right guard. Who knows if it was a light-bulb moment or simply desperation, but it finally did stabilize an overall poor offensive line. Hawley’s size and frame seem to fit center better than right guard. Like Jackson, he’s pretty light for a guard at 6’3, 302 lbs. Hawley was drafted because of his nastiness and toughness out of UNLV and was always thought to be the heir to Todd McClure at center. He took his lumps at the beginning of the season at center in McClure’s absence, but the trial-by-fire seems to have benefited him. While not outstanding by any means, Hawley definitely did an admirable job at right guard, especially considering his last minute switch. The idea goes that Hawley will stay at center and Konz, being bigger, will compete for right guard. But if Hawley needs to play guard, he’s proven he can at least do a commendable job. Chances – High, if Needed

Garrett Reynolds

Been there, done that. He’s not a guard.  Chances – What’s Below Zero?

Phillip Manley

The undrafted free agent from Toledo will be fighting just to make the practice squad, much less the active roster or zooming all the way from not being taken in the draft to starting in the NFL. Manley’s size (6’5, 309) isn’t something to sneeze at and may be a good candidate to groom on the practice squad, but even that will be a struggle for him to accomplish. Chances – Next to Impossible

The Bird Cage Loyalists Debate……….

1) Who do you WANT to win the right guard spot in training camp?

2) Who do you think WILL win the right guard spot in training camp?

3) Is this put-up or shut-up time for Mike Johnson?

4) Is moving Peter Konz to right guard the best idea?

5) Does Hawley at center and Konz at right guard give the best option?

6) Any chance Manuwai regains his old form at soon to be 32 years old?

328 comments Add your comment

Unca' Bob

May 17th, 2012
10:09 am

Enter your comments here

David

May 17th, 2012
10:31 am

Baker, Blalock, Konz, Johnson, Clabo is ideal right? If Johnson recovers from injuries. Granted I’m not in love with Baker, but I don’t see us cutting him and rolling with Svitek and Lamar @ LT for the whole season. Konz was the best center in the draft, why put him at RG?

Jeff B

May 17th, 2012
10:38 am

D3, while I don’t agree with all of the arguments presented here, I do agree with your overall assessments of chances – loved the bit on Reynolds lol!

It’s amazing how much competition we’ve added at RG from what we had last year. I think it’s a great sign, and gives me hope for real improvement.

1. Konz – If he doesn’t win G, then I want him to win C. If it’s not Konz, I would like to see Mike Johnson finally show us what he’s made of.

2. Konz, but it’s a wide open competition!

3. Absolutely!

4. Yep. If you watched the draft, we drafted him as a Guard, not a Center. The Falcons have a deep devotion to cross-training and versatility, and – given the tough roster requirements of the game-day roster – I totally agree with them.

5. That may well be the most likely outcome. But who knows? We’ve got three capable guys competeing for C, and more than that competing for guard. May the best man win!

6. Yep, it’s sure possible. I think he’s more likely to win the top backup slot than the starting spot though, if healthy.

Paddy O

May 17th, 2012
11:02 am

I’m hoping Manuwei, and Konz goes to the C position.

old qb

May 17th, 2012
11:06 am

In a perfect world Mike Johnson would come in and start at right guard giving Konz a year to learn the ways of the NFL and be heir apparent to McClure at center next year.
But in the future for NFL teams the future is always now. The one thing reported that apparently sets Konz apart from the others on the roster was the oft repeated statement, “Konz is very light on his feet.” What separates a decent starting guard from and all-pro is his ability to “pull” on sweep plays. The greatest pulling guard I ever saw was Walt Sweeney of the very early AFL San Diego Chargers. Gerry Kramer of the early Packers wasn’t bad either.
If Konz can pull as advertised Turner and Snelling could resemble Taylor and Horning this season. This could give Smitty no choice, but to keep Konz at guard this and future seasons. Remember, Smitty wants the Falcons to remain a “run first” team.
I predict next year it’s Hawley at center and Konz at right guard.
And oh yeah, I still predict the Falcons will pick up a tight end before the beginning of the season.

Paddy O

May 17th, 2012
11:07 am

what’s below zero? practice squad!

Michael

May 17th, 2012
11:08 am

Well, since we’re talking the “ideal” situation, here’s what would be nice (and perhaps formidable):

RT – Tyson Clabo (Lamar Holmes Backup)

RG – Vince Manuwai if healthy and in form (Joe Hawley Backup)

C – Peter Konz (Todd McClure Backup)

LG – Justin Blaylock (Mike Johnson Backup)

LT – Will Svitek due to lack of options (Garrett Reynolds Backup)

Cut Sam Baker and save money. Keep Andrew Jackson for added depth at OT as well.

Kiss Garrett Reynolds good-bye

Michael

May 17th, 2012
11:11 am

My mistake. Keep Garett Reynolds, kiss Sam Baker good-bye

john

May 17th, 2012
12:05 pm

calling any lineman on this team a full time starter is kinda moot. falcons will probably rotate players quit a bit so i expect to see konz and manuwa and hawley at guard and mcclure and konz at center. I think konzwill have plenty of snaps but wont necessarily be full time at any one position, at least not the whole season. Baker has his best (and last) year at left tackle, and next year holmes should either take over at one of the tackle spot or be a rotational player in both. I do beleive holmes get some significant play time later in the season though. jackson makes a leap. and clabo and blalock remain stalwarts on our oline. Our depth is much improvedbut I still expect us to get another vet before the trade deadline. we still need a backup tackle to hold holmes spot for the interim

waynester

May 17th, 2012
1:13 pm

Pat Y seems sure that we want Konz at ORG and Hawley at OC–that’s certainly the way it looked in rookie camp….

Trainwreck

May 17th, 2012
1:17 pm

I hope Konz turns out to be a beast and plays RG very well although he is a natural center. I hope Hawley plays center because that is his more natural position and will hopefully be better there than at guard. If Manuwai can return to form though I would love to see him at RG and Konz at C if he turns out to be a good player and fit. No giving away spots due to draft status…

Ostrich Racer

May 17th, 2012
1:22 pm

1. Konz
2. Konz
3. Yes, and I’m pulling for him to succeed. He caught a tough break with the head injury,and probably got a bad rap from Boudreau. I just don’t think he can beat out Konz.
4. It’s the only idea management ever had. As Jeff pointed out, Alge Crumpler announced “Peter Konz, Guard, Wisconsin” at the draft:

[http://www.nfl.com/draft/2012/tracker#dt-tabs:dt-by-round/dt-by-round-input:2]

5. Yep.
6. Nope.

Samuel

May 17th, 2012
1:30 pm

Just start the meanest lineman with the best technique period!

MDH

May 17th, 2012
2:05 pm

If Manuwai is healthy and motivated he dominates the inside

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DB/QB

May 17th, 2012
2:20 pm

I think TD has to scan the wire’s carefully and find a steal on the waiver list or a trade. None of the above mentioned can take this team to the SUPER BOWL!

John Waynesworld

May 17th, 2012
2:55 pm

1) Who do you WANT to win the right guard spot in training camp? I think we have an “either/or” scenario that is nothing but great for Matt Ryan. Konz at Center and Hawley at Guard or Hawley at Center and Konz at Guard is a huge improvement. Who fits best where is what we are about to find out.

2) Who do you think WILL win the right guard spot in training camp? Frankly, I think Konz will win at both spots. The competition is who wins at the spot NOT occupied by Konz. I favor Hawley for reasons you mentioned in your piece, D3.

3) Is this put-up or shut-up time for Mike Johnson? Yes. I believe he has PS options as well, but Johnson has to make it to the season opener uninjured or he’ll be out on the street. It depends on Manuwai’s health and Lamar’s progress as whether he makes the 53-man roster or goes to the PS.

4) Is moving Peter Konz to right guard the best idea? Whatever gets Turner more yards and keeps Matt clean.

5) Does Hawley at center and Konz at right guard give the best option? See #1 & #4.

6) Any chance Manuwai regains his old form at soon to be 32 years old? I don’t recall any 30+ year old players getting a year off to rest before, so it may be increase his longevity by a couple years, who knows. He is Hawaiian…

List of Hawaiian offensive linemen in the NFL by number of games played:

Mark Tuinei 195
Olin Kreutz 175
Chris Naeolo 154
Ray Schoenke 145
Dominic Raiola 144
Daniel Kauahi 140
Rockne Freitas 134
Leo Goeas 111
Vince Manuwai 108

John Waynesworld

May 17th, 2012
3:09 pm

Those are all time leaders, by the way, not Hawaiians presently in the NFL.

D3

May 17th, 2012
3:25 pm

Great Thursday Cage Fam! — Sorry for the quick bait-and-switch with the posts, but wanted to get this one for us all to really sink our teeth into. Onwards……… :eek:

David — I may be in the minority here, but I think that Svitek will be our guy to bridge us to Holmes and not Baker. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think Baker is a goner. Svitek may not be Jake Long, but I think he did a commendable job in his time at LT last year. The sooner the better I think for Holmes getting reps.

Jeff B — Good points. I’m definitely coming around to seeing Konz as our best option at RG. Selfishly, I would like for Konz to be @ center and Manuwai to be RG and give us a big ol’ beefeater OL, but I really don’t see that happening. I will be happy with Hawley @ OC and Konz @ RG as that represents the future. I will not be happy with McClure @ OC and Konz @ RG, however. If I haven’t yet, Welcome to the Cage!

old qb — Also very good points. I’m warming to the idea of Konz @ RG, but I would rather go ahead and rip the band-aid off, take the early lumps with Hawley at center instead of delaying the inevitable with McClure hanging around at OC. I would also be very happy with a Konz @ OC, and Mike Johnson @ RG. Despite what anyone says, you have to be good to not only play, but start for Nick Saban all those years.

Michael — Agree on all parts except having Reynolds @ RT and keeping Holmes at LT. I think Holmes has too much upside at LT to just move to RT. I really think Reynolds got screwed with the whole “move to guard” experiment. The guy has been exclusively an RT dating all the way back to high school. I think he would be good @ RT and a great backup there behind Clabo.

JJ

May 17th, 2012
3:27 pm

D3, great intel and research! I’ve read bits and pieces of most of your recon but to have it all put together in one concise post is great. I pray that the “open competition” is true but I’m not buying it due to MS history. Hope Im wrong and AB/TD demanded this from MS, well see.

IMHO, Falcons are putting everything into THIS YR to make a run at the lombardi. Bringing back Tony, keeping Grimes and Turner. Why else pay TG $7m, oh yea, we have no one else.

Agree with earlier blogger about bringing in a TE before the season.

D3, tks for all the time you put in this fab. cage, bet Mrs. Dalton loves how much time it takes away from the family. So tks buddy, def. appreciated by many of us!!!

D3

May 17th, 2012
3:44 pm

JJ — No brother, she’s got her Barnes and Noble Nook, so she’s all good. Agreed on the idea of “open competition.” That has seemed to be great lip service by one Mr. Smith in the past.

The Real Falcon

May 17th, 2012
3:52 pm

1. Let Reynolds compete at OT only If he can’t cut it, cut him but at
least let him fairly compete.
2. Is it me or do we have an overage at center and RG? Put the players
at their best spots and then let them compete. Forget this multi_
tasking training.
3. So after three years on no changes in the OL we now are in year 2
of looking for chemistry. And depending on rookies. What is wrong
with this picture?

Can’t wait to send in my 60% left on my season tickets for this year.

The Real Falcon

May 17th, 2012
3:54 pm

Great blog by the way

Ken Strickland

May 17th, 2012
4:53 pm

It seems to be a given that Konz will start somewhere on our OL this yr. It also seems certain that management believes Hawley is more than ready to take over at OC after the experence and confidence he gained after starting at RG last yr. The only question mark in all of this is really OG MJohnson. All indications and expectations show him to be a starting caliber OG.

If MJohnson steps up and performs up to his capability, we might see him starting at RG and Hawley as his backup, with Konz as our starting OC. An OL of Clabo-RT, Johnson-RG, Konz-OC, Blalock-LG, and Holmes-LT, would still be a big, strong, athletic and nasty OL.

Barring injury, I see RG boiling down to a battle between MJohnson and PKonz. If Konz wins, Hawley is our OC, but if Johnson wins, Konz is our OC. Our 2 most veteran linemen are TMcClure and VManuwai, and neither are long term solutions at their respective positions. We simply have too many talented young ready to near ready OGs and OCs to be bridging gaps with vets until someone develops.

old qb

May 17th, 2012
4:53 pm

D3–Totally agree with you about Reynolds. Put him behind Clabo and leave him there. Svitek will be the starting LT this year–period. Baker will be gone to clear up salary cap. I love McClure, but we don’t need three centers on the team (him, Hawley, and Konz). More salary cap money. It’s a busines or so I hear.
DL–On running plays this season do they keep Harry Douglas in the slot or Kerry Meier? I’d go with the latter. He also reminds me of a young Finnerman–only a little shorter, but great hands for the red zone.
They desperately need another TE. Even with Gonzalez it’s a glaring weakness.

Coop

May 17th, 2012
5:08 pm

D3 – Great blog. I love back-to-back OL discussions. :)

In my utopia (at least as good as you can get with the CURRENT roster), I’d love to see this:

LT – Holmes
LG – Blalock
OC – Konz
RG – Johnson
RT – Reynolds

I realize that this would mean 4 different Day 1 starters, but the point I’m making is if we roll out Baker, McClure, and Clabo again (which I firmly believe we will) then what the hell have we been doing the last 4 years to improve this OL?

Some of us had talked at great lengths about the importance of the line to protecting Ryan and the running game, yet in 4 years we’ve brought in Reynolds, Holmes, Johnson, Jackson, Hawley, Konz, Valdez, Bruggeman, and more… and NONE of them were able to unseat Baker, McClure, or Clabo. C’mon man!

Baker is not and will never be a pro-bowl caliber OT. Hell, he’s not a very good starting LT. Svitek may be better, but not much. Clabo should have never been a pro-bowler, but last year he played like hell. McClure should have been a pro-bowler, but he’s old (that didn’t happen overnight).

So what kind of strategic vision have we had to fix and improve the OL over time? Apparently reach for players, then play them out of position… Weepin’ Jeebus…

OK, ranting finished.

I would like to see the OL mentioned above, because it would disprove what I’m nearly certain will happen. It will mean that we were right about Holmes potential and that drafting him in the 3rd round wasn’t a wasted pick. Same with Johnson and Reynlods.

As for Konz… if he doesn’t at least start at RG, I will be sorely dissapointed.

darrell starks

May 17th, 2012
5:24 pm

STARTERS

LT CLABO

LG BLAYLOCK

C KONZ

RG MANUWAI

RT SVITEK

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

darrell starks

May 17th, 2012
5:25 pm

Move Clabo LT and Svitek RT

GO FALCONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

DW

May 17th, 2012
6:03 pm

I would imagine that Pat Yas. had heard from at least two sources before reporting that “the Falcons went out and drafted Peter Konz, who they plan to use at guard”. I’d like to know where he got that information. Anywho, unless Manuwai or Johnson truly excel at RG this pre-season or nobody does at C, Konz is our RG. In any event, he starts at one of the two positions.

Ol Ball Coach

May 17th, 2012
6:45 pm

Take a knee guys.
From a coaches perspective, I want the 5 nastiest, meanest, strongest ones on the field. Nobody believes Baker or Svitek are particularly solid. Put the 6′6 335 lb rookie over there and let Abe baptize him at practice. He’ll be fine. Blalock is a 6′3, 330 lb wall, but he’s about as nasty as Elmo. Maybe Manuai can take his spot. Konz at center, with Hawley to back him up. Sorry, but Mud Duck needs to coach. Clabo moves back inside to guard, with blalock backing up both spots. Reynolds to RT, and Sviteck backs up both sides. Mike Johnson is a ghost. All he has is an Alabama pedigree. Hasn’t done much otherwise. You all forget that a TE to help a tackle, or a fb/RB on a chip block can slow a DE up alot.
Hey D-led, how off base am I, or are you sworn to secrecy?
I know Blalock could be cut as well as Baker…..

JJ

May 17th, 2012
6:55 pm

darrell. quit SCREAMING, we’ve had this convo many times of the yrs but you always revert back to it, stop it! Your a great cage members with good suggestions. I see that all typed SCREAMING, ignore and pass over.

By the way, your riding on the great SEMINOLE WARRIORS coat tail for the LT switch. You can claim it as your own but I can show you proff that SW brought it up and you came up later as your idea.

Your a fake buddy, quit typing in capitals and grow some balls and predict YOUR OWN VIEWS, instead of copying others.

Ken Strickland

May 17th, 2012
7:00 pm

Ken Strickland

May 17th, 2012
7:13 pm

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1178634-2012-atlanta-falcons-7-traning-camp-battles-were-looking-forward-to
CAGERS-This should interest all of you, and is in line with our topic of discussion.

Ken Strickland

May 17th, 2012
7:31 pm

Can anyone name another off season where there will be as many battles for starting positions? I mean starting FB, MLB, LT, RG, OC, as well as backup RB, TE, WR, OLB, DT, QB, and K/P returner.
We now have, and will take advantage of, at least 3 WRs(RWhite, HDouglas, JJones)who can get behind a DEF for the bomb. We now have, and will take advantage of, 1 RB(JRogers)that can take a short pass to the house, and another one(JSnelling)that can get it close to the front door of the house.

When TE TGonzalez retires after the season, rather than try to find a replacement for him in the draft of FA, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see us utilize JJones in a TE role. I see him being used much like another team used a big, tall, fast WR out of Alabama named Ozzie Newsome.

PoolerSpirit

May 17th, 2012
7:33 pm

I’ve still got high hopes for Mike Johnson at RG… like D3 said… you don’t play for Saban at ‘Bama for a record setting number of games, including blocking for the Heisman winner and National Championships if you’re not a football player… Unfortunate with the concussion last year… hope he brings it this training camp and wins the spot…

Konz needs to start at center… top rated CENTER in the draft… moved there because he couldn’t compete with the other guards at Wisconsin… If we were drafting a guard, I’d have rather traded up and gotten the guy Konz couldn’t beat out… Zeitler…

Big Ray

May 17th, 2012
7:45 pm

but the point I’m making is if we roll out Baker, McClure, and Clabo again (which I firmly believe we will) then what the hell have we been doing the last 4 years to improve this OL?

If this happens, I will throw a tantrum. Then I’ll get pissed.

Big Ray

May 17th, 2012
7:49 pm

Konz needs to start at center… top rated CENTER in the draft… moved there because he couldn’t compete with the other guards at Wisconsin… If we were drafting a guard, I’d have rather traded up and gotten the guy Konz couldn’t beat out… Zeitler…

It’s entirely possible that nobody was better than Konz was at Center, and the best way to have both him and Zeitler on the field at the same time was to have Konz at Center, instead of Right Guard.

If you think Konz simply couldn’t beat Zeitler out, think again.

Also, it seems that we weren’t the only team thinking about Konz’s versatility and ability to play Guard:

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1153851-2012-nfl-draft-dont-count-out-bengals-selecting-peter-konz-in-the-first-round

Big Ray

May 17th, 2012
7:54 pm

I’m not arguing that Konz should be at one position or the other. To be honest, I’m not even sure which position I’d rather have him at. I first wanted him at Center. But dang…you keep reading how teams see his ability to play Center and Guard, which also would make you wonder how he fell to us….until you review the draft and see the run on defensive positions, WRs, and outright crazy picks (Seattle, thankyou for being this year’s Raiders).

That, and read some key words from the above link –

Wisconsin has been churning out quality NFL-ready offensive linemen for some time now, and this year is no different. Last year, the Badgers had three offensive linemen selected in the draft, and this year Konz is leading the way.

In the end, the Bengals are going to find a right guard in the upcoming draft.

If they elect to go with Konz, they’ll find a versatile offensive lineman that can upgrade two positions on the roster.

The first round is all about finding starters, and Konz could be just that in the trenches for the Bengals next season.

Translation – Konz was the top rated OL player from Wisconsin. And is it not eerie how similar that view with the Bengals is to the view apparently taken by this team?

Look….I think we win with him either way.

Yet….I understand the Smitty concerns….

Big Ray

May 17th, 2012
8:01 pm

That said, I feel that we cannot continue with McClure winning the starting spot. Torch has gotta be passed….so it’s either Konz or Hawley. Period. If we trot out McClure, I smell a rat.

WR

May 17th, 2012
8:51 pm

Said it before, I’ll try again, put the best OL on the field that you can. Even if Konz is the center of the future, unless the team has determined McClure has fell off so bad that he’s hurting the team, if Konz can improve the RG position he should start there. If McClure is no longer a legitimate option at C, Konz should start there. Projection wise from a fan’s point of view, I would love for Mike Johnson to take over at RG, have Konz assume the position at C, while Lamar beats out Baker and Switek at LT, and then we have the makings of the future OL of the Falcons in Lamar, Blalock, Konz, Johnson, and Clabo. In principle that’s probably what we all want, in reality, this season is quickly coming upon us, so let’s focus on that, while also keeping an eye toward a promising future.

Hamad Meander

May 17th, 2012
8:53 pm

Big Ray – right on brother. There is NO way we draft Konz without the intention of starting him somewhere on the line. If he doesn’t start this year, it was a wasted pick. Holmes isn’t going to start this year, so Konz HAS to. I prefer to see him at center since the competition for RG seems pretty thick, so here’s my line up:

LT: Sam Baker (here’s hoping)
LG: Justin Blalock
C: Peter Konz
RG: Vince Manuwai (hoping he is healthy – the other guys don’t have a guard build like he does
RT: Tyson Clabo – cut down on the flags this year Tyson

I don’t care about second string. We get to second string with more than one of these positions, we are in trouble.

The Beer Did Drag On

May 17th, 2012
9:04 pm

“That said, I feel that we cannot continue with McClure winning the starting spot. Torch has gotta be passed….so it’s either Konz or Hawley. Period. If we trot out McClure, I smell a rat. – BR

It won’t be the first time nobody could beat out McClure so no reason to get pixxers about it. Anybody who actually watched Hawley play last year saw him get rag-dolled by teams second and 3rd stringers. Hawley got owned last year like a 125 pound hairdresser with a lisp in county lock-up. That doesn’t mean he didn’t spend the off seeson swilling steroids or getting lead bionic buttock implants but even with BOTH of those things his ceiling is average. He could not anchor nor get push in the run game last year…it is not un-realistic to assume even with a off season to improve he might be able to hold off teams 2nd stringers at best. If Baker is not released for cap space which is unlikely given the way TD has handled things so far then it is not unreasonable to expect a starting line-up of Clabo, “Mogwai”, McClure, Blaylock, Baker for at least half a season if not longer. NO ONE will know for sure until the end of pre-season games and I would not put it past TD to pick up another vet to hedge his bets. I don’t like it but it makes sense on alot of levels unless a rookie really blows away the vets in pre-season which is unlikely. We let Valdez go and he was a better version of Holmes so I wouldn’t put much stock in Holmes getting the green light anytime soon.

Big Ray

May 17th, 2012
9:09 pm

Still don’t understand what happened with Valdez, but then….we let Dahl go and kept Clabo, and we see how that’s worked so far….

WR

May 17th, 2012
9:26 pm

Big Ray, sometimes its about development, in the case of Valdez, that’s probably more so the point. For as weak as the Falcons OL has been even during the new regime, outside of Dahl basically taking a job and Baker having to instantly be inserted because he was a 1st rd pick, has there been any real competition. When this regime took over, they needed an LT, weren’t sure about the LG, McClure was a mainstay that had gotten it done for years, they needed a RG, and Clabo wasn’t even a sure thing to make the roster. 4 years later, they still need an LT, Blalock turned into one of the better LGs in the league, McClure’s skills continue to evaporate, sure losing Dahl completely destructed the line, but no one knows whether it was his skill or attitude, and Clabo, sure he’s steady but know one’s exactly calling him a commodity.

So as I mentioned, and I’m not able to get in the cage as much as in the past, it at least appears this updated crew want to put the best 11 men on the field given the circumstance, that’s a major improvement in my opinion.

JJ

May 17th, 2012
9:35 pm

SP, enjoy your post, quit hiding behind your skirt lizard!!!

The Beer Did Drag On

May 17th, 2012
9:37 pm

“Still don’t understand what happened with Valdez, but then….we let Dahl go and kept Clabo, and we see how that’s worked so far….” – BR

I would expect he ended up in Boudreau’s doghouse and becuase he was a PS player nobody cared. Our FO and TD have not shown good judgement about O-line matters so far so it isn’t really surprising. I still don’t know who came up with the Boudreau’s a great coach meme but I hope him being gone will allow someone to start judging players on how they perform instead of whatever criteria PB was using. Regardless of who ends up starting all we really need to acomplish is get the O-line back to solid or a little better than average. M. Ryan put up outstanding numbers not far off the leagues elite with a crap O-line and an even crappier OC so if we can just get him to half the time the supposedly better QB’s get than look out. There are many moves and ways for things to play out before and after the pre-season games but I think we may end up being a very good team this year. The “Molasses Gang” will prolly be conservative in exploring the new found possibilities that Nolan and even Cooter bring judging by their past MO and hence why the molasses tag. The great thing is that still may turn out very good.

The Beer Did Drag On

May 17th, 2012
9:45 pm

“SP, enjoy your post, quit hiding behind your skirt lizard!!!” – JJ

SP’s secretary told me he was on vacation and to fill in since Big Lou didn’t want the job. He is currently spending time cruisin the ritzy neighborhoods watching the trophy wive Milfs of Atlanta get the flab off and the tan on apparently :) . I take it SP is also pondering a new screen name as we might actually use screen passes this year and it won’t be a poke at lunacy anymore.

Greg

May 17th, 2012
11:42 pm

if healthy, Baker will start at LT. I’d like to see Holmes in there though. Im pretty sure McClure wont be unseated by Hawley or Konz in his last year in most likely his last year in the league. And I doubt Manuwai makes the final roster(like the year we signed the mamoth guard Toniu Fonoti from San Diego only to cut him before pre season). And I like Johnson’s background, but weve never seen him play a down and is often injured. So week 1 we will most likely see Baker, Blalock, McClure, Konz, Clabo. I still think we should have let Blalock go instead of Dahl. And does anyone know who we drafted with that 7th round pick we got for Laurent Robinson 3 years ago? Another questionable move by our office that i never understood.

John Waynesworld

May 18th, 2012
8:19 am

I don’t care where they play Konz. I think he could win either spot but they will probably, as advertised, put him at RG. That will allow our HC to have one less decision to make and Smith can focus on the other positions (hopefully he can handle that). McClure and Hawley will make a fine competition at Center in the short term and we won’t lose a step in regard to Ryan’s comfort as to who’s giving him the ball. As far as LT and RT, it pretty much will depend on Holmes’ progress through the camp and preseason. I don’t think that either Svitek or Baker are feeling very safe and I suspect Ryan wouldn’t mind some fierce competition at that spot. I don’t see Clabo moving anywhere from RT as his veteran knowledge will be needed to help Konz if he is indeed put at RG to start the season. I’m just glad there is a hard focus on the offensive line (about time).

Ken Strickland

May 18th, 2012
8:49 am

http://atlanta.sbnation.com/atlanta-falcons/2012/5/8/3006803/2012-atlanta-falcons-depth-chart-preview

This should be a very interesting read for all CAGERS. It’s a run down of the various positions on the team.