Atlanta Falcons Draft Outlook – Offensive Line

Should Be “When,” Not “If” Falcons Go OL

Will Robinson Be Headed to ATL? (AJC)

Deciding which respective line, offensive or defensive, has been worse the last 6 years is an impossible argument. The pass rush has been miserable and the offensive line has been wretched. The pass rush has been nonexistent for some time and it’s almost been accepted by most fans. The offensive line has had it’s ups and downs, but they’ve been good enough, a few times at least, to get the Falcons in the playoffs and generally good enough to be one of the better teams in the NFC. Until last year of course. The trainwreck that was the Falcons offensive line went from bad to even worse and it’s really lucky that Matt Ryan wasn’t injured last year.

They went out and signed Jon Asamoah, arguably the best guard on the market, to fill the RG spot once and for all. However, there’s still plenty of work to be done. They have Justin Blalock locking down left guard, turning 31 this year, and are taking the risky proposition of starting either Joe Hawley or Peter Konz at center. They of course have the block of high performance Sam Baker locked into to a huge contract at left tackle and a plethora of “hopefuls” competing for right tackle including Lamar Holmes, Ryan Schraeder, Mike Johnson, and Gabe Carimi. To say the least, the Falcons could use to upgrade the offensive line in several areas along the OL. A look at the offensive line prospects:

Offensive Tackle

Will Falcons Pass on Another Matthews? (AJC)

This seems to be the area where the Falcons plan to upgrade. With the re-signing of Hawley at center and the signing of Asamoah at right guard, the Falcons won’t likely be looking at either guards or centers early in the draft. That leaves offensive tackle. Will they bite the bullet and actually take one of the elite OT’s or will they roll the dice and wait until later? In theory, they could assume one of the “hopefuls” will work out with the magic of a new attitude and new OL coach.

1st Round

Greg Robinson – Auburn

6’5 – 332 lbs – 35’ Arms – 10’ Hands – 4.92 Forty – 32 Bench

26 Career Starts – Projected: Top 10 Pick

Robinson and Matthews are the two elite tackle in the draft and most experts fully expect that one or even both could be gone in the first 5-7 picks. Robinson is definitely the more athletically gifted of the two and one of the best overall athletic specimens in the entire draft. He started two years at Auburn and helped lead the Tigers to an SEC Title and National Championship berth. He’s a mammoth OT and his ceiling seemingly has no limit. The only slight risk concerning Robinson is him coming from a run-heavy Auburn offense that rarely asked him to pass block. And when he did, he did so for an extremely mobile QB (Nick Marshall). Robinson would provide an immediate upgrade to a Falcons OL in severe need of talent, regardless of any issues of rawness.

Jake Matthews – Texas A&M

6’5 – 308 lbs – 33 ⅜’ Arms – 9 ⅞’ Hands – 5:07 Forty – 24 Bench

33 Career Starts – Projected: Top 10 Pick

Matthews may not have the pure physical ability of Robinson and his ceiling may be nowhere close to that of the former Auburn Tiger’s. But Matthews may be the safest and surest player in the entire NFL draft. He has everything that teams look for in franchise tackles: tough, technically sound, and doesn’t have many weaknesses in his overall game. Not only that, but he belongs to NFL royalty: son of Hall of Fame OL Bruce Matthews, nephew to Pro Bowl LB Clay Matthews Jr. and cousin of perennial stud and former defensive player of the year Clay Matthews III. He played 3 seasons at right tackle earning First Team All-SEC and First Team All-American as a junior before moving over to left tackle, where he earned First Team All-SEC and Consensus All-American as a senior. Robinson may be the flashy and athletic choice, but the Falcons could lock in a legitimate franchise LT if Matthews fell to them at #6. Finally, remember the last time Dimitroff and the Falcons passed over a Matthews when they had the chance? (2009)

Taylor Lewan – Michigan

6’7 – 309 lbs – 33 ⅞’ Arms – 9 ¼’ Hands – 4.87 Forty – 29 Bench

48 Career Starts – Projected: Top 10 Pick

While generally not considered even with the top 2, he’s not far behind either Robinson or Matthews. Unlike the top two OT’s, he’s actually started more games than either and they have all been at left tackle. He possesses the “mean streak” that the Falcons want and desperately need on their offensive line. While not as technically sound or sure as Matthews, he’s been compared to another Michigan OL great in Jake Long. Some draft sites and experts even have him right along Robinson and Matthews in a Top 3 setting, but no one puts him far below them. Even though the Falcons could take Lewan @ #6, it’s hard to think that both Matthews and Robinson will both be gone and someone else they prize (Clowney, Mack) won’t drop. They could target Lewan in a possible trade back scenario, but two issues cloud the picture. First of all, when has Dimitroff ever traded BACK in the first round? And #2, they won’t be able to trade back very far at all and still get Lewan.

Zack Martin – Notre Dame

6’4 – 308 lbs – 32’ ⅞ Arms – 9’ ½ Hands – 5.17 Forty – 29 Bench

50 Career Starts – Projected: Top 15 Pick

Did Smith Get a Look at OL? (AJC)

Tons of draft experts and websites kept trying to push Martin inside to guard, but the former Notre Dame product evidently didn’t get the memo. After completing an astounding 50 starts for the Irish, Martin has had a great pre-draft journey that has made believers out of most draftniks. He’s a touch shorter than a few of the other tackle prospects ahead of him, but he’s shown to be up to the challenge every step of the way. Mike Mayock said that he’d be an immediate All-Pro guard if moved inside, but that he’ll be just fine at tackle as well. After the Top 3 tackles, Martin is firm as the 4th best OT prospect and is almost a lock to go in the first round, sooner rather than later. The former Irish product could be a realistic option for the Falcons if they elect to trade back and would bring the versatility that Smith craves. He could be legitimate option in a trade back scenario, but see above on Dimitroff.

Cyrus Kouandijo – Alabama

6’7 – 332 lbs – 35’ ⅝ Arms – 11’¼ Hands – 5.59 Forty – 21 Bench

27 Career Starts – Projected: Late 1st – Early 2nd Round

If Martin has had a great runup to the draft, than Kouandijo has had the opposite. The former Crimson Tide BCS Champ has had a very poor run in the months leading up to the draft. A junior that started for the Alabama’s Nick Saban amid their run to the BCS Championship title as a sophomore, Kouandijo manned the left side well for his junior season as well. They came a few seconds from a chance at their 3rd consecutive championship and then the downslide happened. He had an unusually terrible bowl game in a loss to Oklahoma and the questions began when he went to the NFL Scouting Combine. Reports leaked that he failed several teams medicals with issues regarding his knees. He had a decent combine, but medical concerns have likely dropped him close to out of the first round. Once thought of as a top 10 lock, he now will be lucky to be taken before the second round. A team may be getting a great value or an injury risk. This could be a very real possibility if the Falcons elect to take a pass rusher in the first round and come back in the second for an offensive tackle.

2nd Round

Morgan Moses – Virginia

6’6 – 314 lbs – 35’ ⅜ Arms – 9’⅞ Hands – 5.35 Forty – Bench: N/A

43 Career Starts – Projected: 2nd Round

Good Look at Linder et al (AJC)

Very productive starter out of Virginia that made a ton of starts and is a very good pass protector. Moses represents the beginning of the next “tier” after Martin and Kounadijo likely go before. Moses has the ideal size and frame to be a left tackle at the next level. He’s also very good on his feet for a player his size. The main issue for Moses is his skill in run-blocking and whether he can develop the necessary tools to become a well-rounded OT at the next level. Would likely be an immediate upgrade on what the Falcons currently have at RT. One concern is that he inexplicably didn’t participate in the bench at the combine, which definitely should raise some eyebrows.

Antonio Richardson – Tennessee

6’6 – 336 lbs – 35’ Arms – 10’¼ Hands – 5.3 Forty – 36 Bench

24 Career Starts – Projected: 2nd Round

The former Tennessee Vol might be one of the most physically impressive athletes in the entire draft and had one of the best performances at the combine. He had the highest reps for bench at 36, higher than Robinson, and the short-arm-equals-higher-reps argument doesn’t fly either. He also ran a 5.3 forty and for someone his size, that’s really impressive. He even held “All-World” DE Jadaveon Clowney in check in 2012, but struggled a bit more in his 2013 matchup. He has all the physical tools to be great at the next level, but has a lot of room for growth in this technical department. If he’s still really raw, can the Falcons afford another project, a la Lamar Holmes?

Jack Mewhort – Ohio State

6’6 – 309 lbs – 34’ Arms – 9’¾ Hands – 5.37 Forty – 28 Bench

39 Career Starts – Projected: 2nd Round

An extremely versatile OL coming out of Ohio State, Mewhort has played at almost every position on the line. A linemen in the blue-collar vein that gets the job done, but lacks the elite athleticism of the higher tackles and many are projecting him more as a right tackle than a left tackle. He could be and very likely will be a great RT candidate, but the Falcons need someone who could eventually play left tackle for the oft-injured and highly ineffective Sam Baker, so Mewhort might not be the ideal pick for the Falcons.

3rd – 5th Rounds

Joel Bitonio – Nevada

6’4 – 302 lbs – 33’⅞ Arms – 9’⅝ Hands – 4.97 Forty – 22 Bench

42 Career Starts – Projected: 3rd – 4th Rounds

Any of These Might be an Upgrade (AJC)

Very high motor left tackle from Nevada that made all of his starts at left tackle. Did very well against top-notch talent including holding his own vs. LB Anthony Barr of UCLA. He lacks the ideal size and frame for a prototypical left tackle and many draft sites feel a move to guard would suit him much better. Eerily similar size to one Sam Baker (6’5, 301 lbs).

Billy Turner – North Dakota State

6’5 – 315 lbs – 34’ Arms – 10’ Hands – 5.16 Forty – 25 Bench

56 Career Starts – Projected: 2nd – 4th Rounds

The small school standout has more starts than any other tackle prospect in the draft, an astounding 56. Turner has a nasty demeanor that translates well to the next level. Showed good strength and overall ability at tackle. Most draft experts are projecting a move inside and there’s always concern about level of competition.

Jawuan James – Tennessee

6’6 – 311 lbs – 35’ Arms – 9’⅞ Hands – 5.34 Forty – 22 Bench

37 Career Starts – Projected: 3rd – 4th Rounds

James may be overshadowed a touch by his teammate, but he made 37 starts in the SEC at right tackle. He’s not as athletically gifted as Richardson, but has more sound fundamentals. He could projecte well to the next level, but the Falcons aren’t really in the market for a pure right tackle such as James.

Cameron Fleming – Stanford

6’5 – 323 lbs – 34’ Arms – 9’⅞ Hands – 5.28 Forty – 26 Bench

38 Career Starts – Projected: 4th Round

Like Mewhort from Ohio State, Fleming has made 38 starts at a big school in a tough conference. All of those, however, have been at right tackle. Has pretty good size and frame, but lacks the top-line agility of other tackles that could move to left tackle and some feel he may even be better suited to a move inside to guard.

Seantrel Henderson – Miami

6’7 – 331 lbs – 34’⅝ Arms – 10’½ Hands – 5.04 Forty – Bench – N/A

26 Career Starts – Projected: 4th – 6th Rounds

The former Hurricane is one of the most physically imposing of the entire tackle group. He has all the tools to be good at the next level, but he’s been mostly a disappointment at Miami and struggled to consistently find a groove as a starter. Maybe he’s gotten it together just in time, but many project him exclusively to right tackle at the next level and appears to be very much a project.

James Hurst – North Carolina

6’5 – 296 lbs – 33’¾ Arms – 10’⅛ Hands – Injured in Bowl Game

49 Career Starts – Projected: 4th – 5th Rounds

Urban vs. Johnson (AJC)

Hurst started off the year holding the biggest player in college football, Clowney, completely in check and had finished his 4th year starting at left tackle at UNC, completing 49 starts and setting a school record. Like Mewhort, he doesn’t possess the athletic traits of the higher tackles, but is a blue-collar OT that could get some looks at the next level. Had terrible timing in breaking his leg in the bowl game, but still should get drafted fairly high.

6th – 7th Round Prospects

Charles Leno – Boise State; Matt Patchan – Boston College; Michael Schofield – Michigan; Justin Britt – Missouri

Offensive Guard

It’s hard to believe the Falcons looking at guard early in the draft for several reasons. Chief among them is that with the signing of Asamoah, the Falcons seem pretty set at guard with Justin Blalock on the other side. The second reason is that there are so many other needs before guard, including offensive tackle, pass rusher, free safety, tight end, and other positions including running back.

4th – 5th Rounds

Cyril Richardson – Baylor

6’5 – 329 lbs – 34’⅝ Arms – 9’½ Hands – 5.36 Forty – 25 Bench

41 Career Starts – Projected: 3-4th rounds

If the draft was held in February, Richardson would have been at the very top of the OG heap and maybe taken in the 2nd round. Unfortunately, Richardson’s stock took a major dive after a very poor Senior Bowl week and game and an average combine experience. He still has talent, but is a work in progress in pass protection. If he slides far enough, it would be a great player to groom for Blalock’s eventual replacement.

Brandon Thomas – Miami

6’3 – 317 lbs – 34’⅝ Arms – 9’½ Hands – 5.42 Forty – 25 Bench

41 Career Starts – Projected: 3-4th Rounds

Thomas actually started at left tackle for 2 seasons and earned All-ACC honors at that spot. Most draft experts agree that a move inside to guard would be best for him. He may not last very long and could be an exceptional candidate at guard.

Anthony Steen – Alabama

6’3 – 314 lbs – 30’½ Arms – 9’⅛ Hands – Shoulder Surgery after Season

35 Career Starts – Projected: 4 – 5th Rounds

Bodine Big on the Bench (AJC)

Steen has been on an offensive line with Chance Warmack, DJ Fluker, Cyrus Kounadijo, and Barrett Jones and has been the forgotten man along that front. He also had shoulder surgery after the season was over, but he’s been one of the most solid guards in college football. This would be a great option if the Falcons could snag him later in the draft. Maybe this guard from Alabama will work out better than the last (Mike Johnson).

Jon Halapio – Florida

6’3 – 323 lbs – 33’⅝ Arms – 10’¼ Hands – 5.34 Forty – Bench: N/A

43 Career Starts – Projected: 4th – 5th Rounds

Normally, starting 43 times for the University of Florida would be a good thing, but not so much lately. Definitely raw and would need some work, but possibly a prospect to groom for the future.

Trai Turner – LSU

6’3’ – 310 lbs – 34’ Arms – 9’½ Hands – 4.93 Forty – 25 Bench

20 Career Starts – Projected: 5th Round

Turner may be a diamond in the rough, but he’s got a long way to go after only starting one full season at LSU. He only played two years, but had a good year at guard in his first year as a starter.

5th – 7th Round

Chris Watt – Notre Dame; Russell Bodine – UNC; Kadeem Edwards – Tennessee State; John Urschel – Penn State; Ryan Groy Wisconsin; Spencer Long – Nebraska

Center

Feiler a Late Round OT (AJC)

It’s hard to imagine the Falcons taking a center in the draft, and may not even look at centers, except for undrafted free agents after having Peter Konz and re-signing Joe Hawley to compete at center.

4th – 7th Centers

Bryan Stork – Florida State; Tyler Larsen – Utah State; Cory Linsley – Ohio State; Gabe Ikard – Oklahoma

Your Thoughts on what the Falcons Should Do on Offensive Line in Draft?

666 comments Add your comment

Seminole Warrior

April 6th, 2014
12:01 pm

What’s Up Cage

Boss, another outstanding effort and one most fitting of what will perhaps be the centerpiece of the most intense debate the Cage has seen in some time.

There is nothing wrong with a health debate. It is great when it is rooted in principle and focus. And I have a feeling that in the coming weeks, we will see a lot as Falcon fans everywhere do their own analysis and decided what they feel is best for the team.

Many will say that defense wins championships. That statement may have been true in the days of the greats like Deacon Jones, Ernie Ladd, and Willie Lanier. It may have continued to the great Steel Curtain defenses. I will not argue the significant value of a great defensive game plan.

But, my Cage family, times are changing. Defense no longer wins championships. It is what we in the military call a “force multiplier”. It is an essential component but not the absolute necessity.

Seminole Warrior

April 6th, 2014
12:08 pm

While I have nothing but respect for the varying opinions we will find here in the Cage and across the spectrum of draft boards and blogs, there is no doubt to the Tee Pee that the most important pick of this draft is the first one.

This pick can not and should not be traded. I can not and should not be devalued with an attempt to “electrify” the fan base. This move, this selection, should be all about business.

If you are or have invested a significant amount of money in your car, say a BMW 750i or an Audi A8,
you would not want to visit a USED tire store to put needed rubber on that fine ride.

If you were fortunate to be able to have a dinner date with the likes of Jaclyn Smith or Tyra Banks, would you SERIOUSLY take a woman of that elegance to McDonalds?

Seminole Warrior

April 6th, 2014
12:14 pm

So, this first selection of 2014, should be a given. When you have invested over $100 million dollars in the “foundation” of your franchise, you have to ensure that the “foundation” is solid and protected. And you will not do that by adopting the “Rent-a-Center” approach or by becoming a constant “Big Lots” shopper.

Value has a premium but there are time when a premium investment is needed. For the Atlanta Falcons, the time is NOW. Offensive tackle is a must fill and it has to be filled immediately. We can not, we should not, and we must not wait one more draft moment.

Over the last six years, this regime has fundamentally failed in several, documented ways to take this team to the level of consistency it needs. Most significant among these is player development and selection. Time after time, we have taken unnecessary risks or invested way too much into a talent pool that has under-served time and time again.

Seminole Warrior

April 6th, 2014
12:19 pm

Here we sit with the most complete pedigree of an offensive lineman in a decade and we HONESTLY are having to wonder if they will get this right.

Jake Matthews is a perennial Pro Bowler waiting to happen. There could not be a more easy selection for this regime. This kid oozes everything that made his father a Hall of Famer.

Seminole Warrior

April 6th, 2014
12:21 pm

Greg Robinson has more upside than any offensive lineman I have seen in a rushing offense in the last decade. Dude is an absolute beast and has the tools to become the “total” package in very short order.

Taylor Lewan has been a constant at his position and Michigan has produced a fair share of very solid offensive linemen over the years.

This should be simple…but why is it so complex?

Seminole Warrior

April 6th, 2014
12:29 pm

Many will cite statistics and talk about the fact the we improved over time. I will respect either. But I will counter with the staggering fact that this team as a whole as been as up and down as the outside air temperature.

When you look at the extensive experience found across the board in ALL aspects of Falcons team operations, there is absolutely NO reason why this team should be sitting at this particular cross roads.

Sam Baker is never, never going to live up to his “first” round selection. Simply put, his body is not going to sustain him. Father time is not on his side. And as the game gets faster and the defenders more mobile and stronger, he will remain behind the eight ball.

Justin Blalock, a premier right tackle and guard in college, has served well at times as our LG during his tenure. He has been considered our most steady OL member but has yet to make it to ONE Pro Bowl as a starter or an alternate.

Todd McClure is gone. The former seventh rounder developed into one of the most reliable Falcons in a while along the trenches.

The right side has been a revolving door of inconsistency and chaos since the departure of Jim Mora Jr. and his zone blocking scheme. Clabo and Dahl served well for a year; using grit and tenacity in a power scheme that propelled the Falcons to awaked from a dormant rest.

Seminole Warrior

April 6th, 2014
12:34 pm

Many will look at the anemic pass rush and say that is the problem as to why this team can not finish games.

I would counter with this one. How many times did the game come down to third down conversions and the failure to complete them? How many times could our running backs not find 3 or 4 yards on a run play when needed. How many screen passes have failed due to inadequate ability to flow as an offensive line?

If you can not protect the quarterback, if you can not sustain the ability to run the ball in varying degrees or at critical points in a game, you are in trouble.

The overwhelming majority of the plays in the Atlanta offense flow through the arm of Matt Ryan. If that man takes hit like Rodgers took last year, if he is out for a substantial period of time due to the constant pounding he takes from an offensive line that is “condemned”, you can forget all dreams of any title coming our way other than “star quarterback out for the year”.

Seminole Warrior

April 6th, 2014
12:38 pm

Where there is no vision, the people shall perish. Forget the injuries of 2013. We have had them before. When you think about it, most of the characters that missed considerable time in 2013 have missed time before for at least a short time since their arrival in the regime.

The only exception was Roddy White.

But injuries do not derail teams with a real plan. Injuries do not often derail teams with visionaries at the helm. The Giants recovered in 2013. The Steelers recovered in 2013.

Ahh, the Steelers and Giants. Did anyone patch their offensive lines more than those two teams in the 2013 season? Did you notice the intensity of Coughlin and Tomlin as they, time and time again, demanded more of their teams when the storm clouds were darkest?

Seminole Warrior

April 6th, 2014
12:42 pm

The Atlanta Falcons have to take TWO offensive linemen early in this draft. The reasons for the need are simple.

First, the depth is pathetic and untested in large measure. Second, the most reliable OL player we have, Justin Blalock, could well be a cap casualty next year.

But….

Can we entrust this regime to develop ANY talent that comes to Flowery Branch? Can we entrust them to develop schemes that maximize talent or are we doomed to another damned, failed season of “cross training”?

marko

April 6th, 2014
12:51 pm

Wow look at all those post. Seminole, you are definitely a Warrior. Good job D3, We’ve had friendly differences in the past, but we seem to be on the same page this year.

For me, the ideal situation would allow the Falcons to chose between Robinson and Matthews. That’s not going to happen. if we’re lucky one of the two will fall to us. If I had my choice it would be Matthews. Most value boards give the nod to Robinson, and why not? Of the two, he’s bigger, faster and stronger. That said, Matthews is a proven commodity as a pass protector. Robinson should be fine in that department, but we have to assume that because we don’t have game film that actually confirms it.

If Matthews is gone, I take Robinson, and even accept the idea that we might have gotten a lucky break. Still if I were making the choice, I’d go Matthews. I give Jake the nod because his hall of fame father holds the record for consecutive starts by a lineman. Played 19 years, 14 pro bowls. Any way you slice it, that’s a crap load of dependability. I haven’t been as hard on Baker as some of you. When healthy he’s a little above average, but he’s struggled with durability issues his entire career. If your best option at left tackle’s subject to Boo boo problems, who do you want baking him up? Lamar Holmes?

We’ve gotten into the playoffs with sub standard pass rushers. I’m not trilled with the situation, but I don’t perceive it as a fatal flaw. If we can protect Icy, we can out shoot anybody. If we were to wait till 37 to address the Pass rush, wouldn’t that be the earliest Smitty and Thomas have selected a pass rusher? McKay selected a pass rusher at 6. Some kid out of Arkansas. Sometimes I wonder what he’s doing these days.

Seminole Warrior

April 6th, 2014
12:55 pm

Any move in the first round that is not an offensive lineman is a serious mistake. And it may prove to be a very costly mistake.

The fastest way to guarantee the success of your desired grand entrance into your $1.2 billion dollars nest is to ensure that you have the “big show” ready to put on display.

You have $100+ million invested in the conductor of your symphony. Time to ensure that the rest of the band is ready to deliver the best damned concert the show hall has ever seen.

That means protect Ryan at all costs. And that means a significant investment in the offensive line.

That means, in the first five picks as they currently stand, at least TWO offensive line selections.

Seminole Warrior

April 6th, 2014
1:00 pm

I agree with you, Marko.

We have not fully evaluated the pass rushers we have invested in to date. When players are not on the field, how can you tell what they are capable of.

The pass rush, or lack thereof, is a symptom of a much larger defensive philosophy failure. Or the lack of a philosophy from the first place.

falcon21

April 6th, 2014
1:07 pm

SW, keep bringing it, you are 100% correct.

[...] News here – Atlanta Falcons: The Cage ← Orkin expands to [...]

D3

April 6th, 2014
1:11 pm

SW — PREACH, PREACH, PREACH!!!!!! And you sometimes wonder why we call you the “Godfather of the Cage!!!!”

ILL-Logical

April 6th, 2014
1:12 pm

For my sophomore effort, I would propose a move to sign a L-O-N-G shot free agent that could allow the Falcons to focus even more of their 2014 draft selections on the offense, with particular emphasis on the offensive line.

In short and summary, the Falcons should explore the option of signing Rolando McClain as a viable candidate for the starting MLB spot. The former Crimson Tide star is 24 years old,; 6′ 4″ and 256 lbs. and while McClain is around 17 months removed from playing in his last NFL game, the Baltimore Ravens, who currently hold his contract rights should he “unretired”. want him back, troubled past and all. ( http://russellstreetreport.com/rolando-mcclain-preparing-for-a-return-in-2014/)

The reason: talent and his $700,000 K. A 4th round pick, max , should do a deal . The guy has All Pro talent and it appears the money has run ,so he is motivated. Perhaps former team mates Julio Junes and Mike Johnson can lure him to play closer to home and family.

Long shot-no doubt but the payoff could be long term with a line backing core of Spoon, Rolando and either Khalil Mack or Anthony Barr, the D would be truly agile, mobile and hostile.

ILL-Logical

April 6th, 2014
1:13 pm

* the money has run OUT*

Seminole Warrior

April 6th, 2014
1:15 pm

For those that think that the first pick should be a pass rusher or OLB, I will only state this. I respect your opinion.

But you can not waste a first round pick, not to mention, move up and trade away picks in the same round, for a defensive player when there is STILL a cloud of uncertainty over the “approach” the “D” is going to take.

ESPN and NFL Network have sold so many Falcon fans on this “hybrid” approach or this advent of a most extensive “3-4″ use?

Do you really think the CFA would be out there saying we are staying “status quo” if he did not have the final say? What “head coach” would turn over “all” control of his “philosophy” to an assistant WHOM the “head coach” has “proven” to be far more successful than as a “head coach”.

I will save that for another day. But it is an interesting question, huh?

Seminole Warrior

April 6th, 2014
1:26 pm

ILL

Welcome to the Cage.

The Tee Pee would not touch this guy with a ten foot pole. If you motivation is money, your soul motivation is money, that is a red flag of the highest order. All I heard about this guy coming out was he was the “undisputed” pulse of the Alabama defense. He could not be relied on in Oakland and when given a second change by one of the best GMs in the game, McClain “abruptly” quit on the Baltimore Ravens.

If you can’t find it in your soul to get it right for an organization that excels in producing defensive stalwarts like Baltimore, how can you be counted on to be a “game changer” in an oasis of inept defensive approach like Atlanta?

Ken Strickland

April 6th, 2014
1:40 pm

D3-Once again, OUTSTANING MY MAN. You should be getting paid. I’m not advocating we specifically draft an OT or pass rusher with our 1st pick, because I don’t care which 1 we draft. Both situations are critical, both have been an issue for sometime & needs to be addressed.

I do know we don’t have anyone of note on our roster that we can expect to provide us with an effective & consistent pass rush. With several RT candidates on our roster, we do have a chance to have at least 1 hopefully provide us with the production we need at RT. I just can’t get past the feeling that the heads at Flowery Branch have taken this into consideration. The question is, how much will they let this factor into their 1st rd draft decision.

And don’t think OL coach MTice won’t have an impact on our OL this yr. ABlank has made certain he’ll likely be the 1st OL coach under Smitty that will be allowed to make his own changes & adjustments to our blocking scheme.

Seminole Warrior

April 6th, 2014
1:49 pm

K Strick

I love you like a brother; you know that. But I wish that I could have the faith in the front office that you have.

These clowns have wasted millions and millions of dollars on Rent-a Center players, Big Lots discounts, and yard sale pickups from along the byways and highways of the Peach State.
We had the most experienced set of coaches, collegiate and professional, in the NFC South, and we still have yet to dance on the grand stage.

If AB was to give all this control over to these new flashes in the night, why in the blue graces would the CFA stick around to have his “authority” seemingly undermined.

AB (aka Jerry Jones East) supposedly has instructed the entire operation to tighten up. So TD puts out an SOS to Pioli and Devaney; Mike Tice gets the call to “tighten” up the OL when he could not assist the Bears front office with overhauling their shame of an offensive line; and Mike Nolan, the great DC that has won with everyone’ else’s talent is seen as the equalizer now that he has Soliai and Jackson in the mix?

Reactionary football…that is the ONLY thing that this regime has mastered over its time. React to the “hot aspects” of what the successful have done. What have we sustained? What has this regime truly developed?

Again, I love you brother. But I have my flag in a position of distress when it comes to the pack at the Branch. They simply have to show me.

Seminole Warrior

April 6th, 2014
2:39 pm

Curious….how many teams would love to be in this situation?

Mr. X Hill begins his second season as an offensive line coach.

Mr. X and Mr. Y work closely together as they develop the offensive line, ensuring the protection of a franchise and opening running lanes for the ground attack.

In Mr. X’s first season, the offensive line proved to be a pillar of stability. In 16 games, he coached only two different offensive line combinations.

The offensive line assisted in the acquiring a conference best record and posting the second most total yards in team history (5,906). Additionally the unit recorded the third most first downs in a single-season (342). Finally, the offensive line facilitated the third highest point total in a single season (419) behind the offensive line.

Under the guidance of Mr. X, the offensive line saw the emergence of a fifth-year left tackle and a rookie offensive guard.

The left tackle was credited with only giving up 3.5 sacks according to STATS Inc. in 16 games. His 3.5 sacks allowed ranked tied for third in the NFL among tackles that started all 16 games.

The guard was thrust into a starting role when the incumbent was lost for the season in Week 6. He started the final 10 games of the regular season and in two playoff games.

This offensive line assisted in producing two 1,000-yard receivers while facilitating Pro Bowl status for the quarterback and both receivers.

Seminole Warrior

April 6th, 2014
2:41 pm

Would you be happy with the efforts of Mr. X, Mr. Y, and their offensive line?

Danny O

April 6th, 2014
2:48 pm

Tired of hearing and reading articles that the Falcons line was terrible. If Ryan was so concern about his health he would have taken less money. There is this thing called a salary cap.

Chris T

April 6th, 2014
3:12 pm

Has anyone tried the mock simulator at fanspeak?

JJ

April 6th, 2014
3:28 pm

Tres bien SW, tres bien!

Unfortunately, I’m convinced that spikey will trade up with his buddy at #2 and take Mack/Clowney.
This will seal his fate and smitty’s…unless Ken is right in the coaching Tice brings in.
Cage is diveded among OL/Pass rusher at 6, all good in healthy debates. Love Flo’s mock for DT in 2nd…IF WE HAVE ONE!!!

AB, Plz tell spikey not to trade up, he has wasted way too many picks in the last 6yrs!!!
Wait until 6 and take your man, prefer OT but at this point I dont care…just DONT give away anymore of our picks!!!

Chris T

April 6th, 2014
3:30 pm

JJ

April 6th, 2014
3:31 pm

D3, Thanks for all your work buddy!

Seminole Warrior

April 6th, 2014
3:37 pm

Chris T, I have never tried it but will give it a shot.

JJ / Rock, thanks. I am holding out for the miracle but my heart tells me that you are on the mark. The trade is coming and God help them.

Danny O, no disrespect but…

In the words of the great Stephen A. Smith; if it walks like duck and quacks like a duck, it ain’t a damned mongoose.

Seminole Warrior

April 6th, 2014
3:39 pm

It is not the salary cap that is the issue; it is this “capped” mindset of the Atlanta front office that is.

Seminole Warrior

April 6th, 2014
3:41 pm

JJ / Rock

Flo has been on a roll for sure and has done a fine job with his mocks.

But have no fear….Cocoa and Tee Pee Sports are putting the final board together. And it will not be long before the world can peek into the mind of Cocoa.

JJ

April 6th, 2014
3:58 pm

SW,
- Always look fwd to the Cages’ Godfathers draft manifesto!
- Its a yrly treat for those new to the cage.
- But if my brother SW is Cocca mel jr—FLO has earned the “Mckay jr” status.

With our draft seating, a early 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th picks are really 5 picks in 4 rds…esp with the quality of this draft. Of course with wpp, that probably doesnt matter. But for the future coach, we need these first 5 picks to hit!!!

SG

April 6th, 2014
4:01 pm

Blog Monster

SG

April 6th, 2014
4:03 pm

D3 & SW

You two make being a fan worthwhile ;-)

SW 12:38
Good point about the Giants and Steelers. If I may, I’d like to add the Pats who, if I remember correctly, had a 3rd stringer and a guy from their PS on the OL by season’s end.

Ken Strickland

April 6th, 2014
4:14 pm

SEMINOLE WARRIOR-it’s not that I definitely have absolute faith in our front office, it’s just a matter of them giving me a feeling about what they want or intend on doing. I also know this isn’t the same front office of the past. Not only have new additions been made to make it more varied & experienced, but the 2 principle members, TD & Smitty, have been given an open mandate & direction by ABlank.

Whatever disconnect that might have existed between TD, Smitty &/or the coaching staff will definitely be tempered, if not eliminated, by the new front office additions. OL coach MTice wasn’t hired just to coach up a potential top 2-3 OT. He was hired to coach up what’s already on the roster, as well as possible low 1st or high 2nd or 3rd rd rookie OLinemen.

If we end up drafting an OT with our 1st pick, beautiful, it would be a welcomed & needed addition. If we end up drafting a pass rusher, beautiful, it would also be a welcomed & needed addition. I’m far more interested in getting the job done more so than who we get specifically or how we go about getting it done. I do have far more confidence in our newly configured front office than before.

Seminole Warrior

April 6th, 2014
4:18 pm

Thanks for the assist, SG. I forgot about the Pats who were in a major reconstruction in 2013.

JJ / Rock,

Just wait until the meet and greet!! It is going to an energy packed day of wings, drink, and intense yet fun debate of the 2014 season.

And you are dead on about the future head coach and his needs. A certain 53 year old offensive mind that the Tee Pee has transitioned to should be available. And offense is his specialty which will allow the great Nolan to stay and see if he can figure out something.

Seminole Warrior

April 6th, 2014
4:20 pm

Nothing but respect and admiration for your voice of reason, K Strick. Only time will tell.

In the meantime, stay focused and keep up the strength. You have to be at the meet and great so that we can have discussions/forums face to face.

Deal?

Seminole Warrior

April 6th, 2014
4:26 pm

Ooops…meet and greet.

SG

April 6th, 2014
4:31 pm

As much as I’d like to see a Gritz Blitz Part Deux, I’ve gotta go w/ fortifying the O-Line first. We face 3 solid D’s twice a year in our own conference.

While I’m curious as to what the hell the Panthers’ plan is this off-season, they accounted for 25% of MR2’s sacks in ‘13. Yes, the last game w/ 9 sacks was an aberration but it still displays how really, really, really bad our OL was (and how obvious our game plans were). The Saints haven’t hurt their D so far and the Bucs, overall, are on a quick road to recovery.

That said, to protect MR2 and allow him the time, some time, ok, any time to utilize the weapons now stockpiled, O-Line first.

Ken Strickland

April 6th, 2014
4:39 pm

If we draft an OT with our 1st pick, I’m convinced we could get a very effective SITUATIONAL pass rusher, who won’t be an immediate starter, with our 2nd rd pick, or at the bottom of the 1st if we trade up. If we go this route I’d strongly suggest we double dip.

One thing I refuse to do is dwell on the past or use it as an excuse to maintain a negative attitude or approach to the team, front office, the upcoming season or our future. I do believe TD gets an undeserved bad rap. He’s had his share of misses, but he’s also drafted some players with talent & potential that needed developing, only to have their development needs ignored. Is that his fault?

Seminole Warrior

April 6th, 2014
4:44 pm

“OL coach MTice wasn’t hired just to coach up a potential top 2-3 OT. He was hired to coach up what’s already on the roster, as well as possible low 1st or high 2nd or 3rd rd rookie O-Linemen.”

Well, I certainly hope, for the sake of all fans, he (Tice) has better luck than what he did in Chicago.
Former first rounder Chris Williams, whom TIce inherited, and former first rounder Gabe Carimi who the Bears took while Tice was there, are still being waited upon to blossom.

In the mean time, we will keep an eye on Paul Dunn (OL Coach for Houston now) and Paul Boudreau, entering his second year at St. Louis to see if we made the right moves in dumping both.

Seminole Warrior

April 6th, 2014
4:57 pm

K Strick

Again, nothing but respect for the stance you hold strongly. As you know, I have defended TD in the past. But someone has to be held accountable for the shortcomings that befell this team. And if he is in fact the man, then he has to have some blame placed at his feet.

As you know, I really have issues with the shortcomings in player development by this regime. And again, you are the man, you have to assess your total organization. And if the CFA plus his staff can not get the job done, then they need to be cut loose.

After all, player development issues continued after the release of such coaches as Emmit Thomas, Mike Murlarkey, and Brian Van Gorder. Then here we go again with the releases of Paul Dunn, Paul Boudreau, Ray Hamilton, and Pat Hill.

So yes, if the buck stops with him in terms of the team’s direction, the court of public opinion is absolutely correct when doubting where we truly are.

SG

April 6th, 2014
4:57 pm

Ken 4:39

I like that first paragraph = program acceleration offsets compromise.

Second paragraph; I’ve bashed on him too but, while I understand all GMs whiff, my perception is he goes out of his way to impress the NFL world that he can outsmart, and out deal everyone. This leads to overspending, (where do I begin?), and ignoring a player’s possible as well as obvious talent / health downsides.

As far as his trade up MO, I’ve pointed out previously, long before this regime was in place a certain owner like to go off and trade up for the Maserati Du Jour.

Ken Strickland

April 6th, 2014
5:04 pm

Grits Blitz

April 6th, 2014
5:36 pm

D3 ( our CEO & President) – once again, don’t see any stone unturned in your weekly post. It’s all there for those who wish to see and smell the napalm! Good job, Boss.

Warrior (our Godfather) – I know what bothers you bothers me, too. We can make the obvious, most logical cases for our many needs and they fit like “hand-in-glove”. But, heretofore, we have NEVER had a FO in the TD/CFA regime to aim the cannon directly at logical choices. Based on past botches, until I actually witness it, don’t expect them to do the logical – unless Arthur and the newly arrived gurus mandate such. (I can just see TD acting like an expectant Dad pacing and chain smoking w/ phone to ear when the draft starts, hoping Houston, St. Louis, etc. accepts his Dick Butkus offer to trade all picks for one player! Another FUBAR waiting to happen…)

TRENCHES, beginning w/ O-line – FOREVER.

Seminole Warrior

April 6th, 2014
5:39 pm

K Strick @ 5:04

Great read.

Grits Blitz

April 6th, 2014
5:51 pm

D3-good work! For those who wish to see the possibilities, it’s very clear. Thank you!

Warrior – what bothers you bothers many of us. SNAFUS in the past. What’s to stop FUBARS in the future draft? Mandates by Arthur and newbies to the front office?

I can just see TD before Houston selects …he’s pacing around like an expectant Dad, o.d. on coffee, chain smoking w/ phone to ear..waiting to hear if Houston, St. Louis, etc. will accept his Dick Butkus-Ricky offer to trade all our choices for one player. And, the Branch Band played on…

O.T. – yes. (And this from a rush/blitz pressure the QB specialty guy.) Trenches first – always, but O-line 1st, this year, followed by D-line & safety. Gator bait or dawg food?

Grits Blitz

April 6th, 2014
5:52 pm

Enter your comments here

Flo-Ri-Duh

April 6th, 2014
5:52 pm

D3 – In 2013 I entered the MOCK contest (for the 1st time) with the mindset of what’s best for the Falcons and that’s basically what I have done in my recent mocks. WRONG APPROACH !

Falcons “telegraphed” who their 1st pick would be _ Desmond Trufant (CB) was no surprise at #1. The 2013 draft was deep with quality, big butt DT’s, a rarity in most drafts. Knowing that the Falcons would go #1 Trufant (CB) and knowing a DT would be there for the taking in Rd #2 the Falcons threw me a curve. Not one single DT did they draft! It was Robert Alford (CB) who had been predominantly mocked as a Rd #3 pick. Of course, the Falcons had traded away their 3rd Rd to get Trufant so they reached for their 2nd CB in Rd #2. From then on out it was one curveball (and a few spit balls) one after another.

#1 Desmond Trufant (CB) – no brainer but was torn on the possibility of a trade up to get him – deciding to not trade up.
#2 Robert Alford (CB) – projected 3rd, 4th Rd pick – I would call this a “reach”
#3 traded away – this is where I would have taken my 2nd CB
#4 Mallicah Goodman (DE) – at least I considered him here
#4 Levino Toy Boy (TE) – vaguely hear of him but he was backup TE at Stanford
#5 Stansly Maponga (DE) – he had just had surgery & rep was injury prone
#6 traded away
#7 Kemal Ishmael (S) – who ???
#7 Zeke Motta (S) – a 4.85 40 safety ??? (strike #1) from Notre Dame (strike #2)
#7 Sean Renfree (QB) – (2 safeties, 2 DE’s and a Renfree in a pear tree)

*** Common sense – we don’t need no stinkin’ common sense !!!

Chris T

April 6th, 2014
6:16 pm

http://fanspeak.com/ontheclock/sharedraft.php?d=hyaflq Here is a pc simulated mock I done earlier today. I traded down once and up once. Overall I am pleased except for S position. I may have screwed up on that one.