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 Post subject: Draft Falcons: Senior Bowl Practice Reports Day 1
PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 9:25 pm 
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http://draftfalcons.com/senior-bowl-not ... -practice/

North:

I missed the beginning portion of the North practice because of traffic and how the practices were staggered, but I got plenty of notes on the trenches despite that.

First of all, Aaron Donald was completely whipping Cyril Richardson all day today. Whether it was 1 on 1′s or team, he was beating him consistently and only lost a few battles all practice. He beat him off the line with great burst upfield and hand slaps a couple times, but by far the most impressive one was when he got off the ball well, got Richardson on skates, and then bullrushed him and knocked him right on his ass. I won’t lie, I yelled “WOW!” when he did it. It was amazing. Donald is one of my favorite prospects here, and he had a very strong start to the week today.

While Richardson had his struggles today, and continues to need work on his stance (though I did see Mike Tice working on that with him a little bit) I was very impressed with Zach Martin. I am convinced that he can stay outside at tackle in the NFL and he showed good hand placement, anchor and athleticism to take away the edge today. He won a couple battles against Trent Murphy who is no slouch despite lacking great speed to win off the edge.

Weston Richburg had a solid practice and he showed a good anchor that he has shown when I’ve watched him on tape. Tyler Larsen wasn’t quite as good, but he was solid as well. Brandon Linder struggled mightily today particularly against Ra’Shede Hageman. Hageman bull rushed him pretty much whenever he wanted and overwhelmed multiple interior linemen on the North today. Linder just didn’t have the anchor to slow him down.

I’m not a big Jack Mewhort fan, but he strikes me as the kind of player that won’t get drafted that high but that will stick around in the league for 10 years. He’s got solid length with 33 inch arms and he did a good job against Kareem Martin, a very long defensive end. Mewhort uses his hands well and has enough athleticism to be a right tackle, and he showed that today. I still don’t like Michael Schofield inside at guard as he isn’t strong enough to anchor outside at tackle, and now he is playing against squattier, stronger players who can gain instant leverage against him. He’s athletic enough to play tackle, I just hope they move him outside so we can see it. Brandon Thomas looks like a guard and today he played like one at tackle. He’s got the size and length you like, but he’s not a good enough athlete to hang with NFL pass rushers outside in my opinion.

http://draftfalcons.com/senior-bowl-not ... -practice/

South:

At the beginning of the practice I watched the DB’s to get a feel for a couple of the guys I hadn’t seen much of, and was intrigued by Walt Aikens and Lavelle Westbrooks. Westbrooks looked smooth and made some nice catches fully extending his arms which isn’t typical for defensive backs. Aikens didn’t look quite as smooth, and he was a little high in his back pedal (as was Westbrooks at times).

Lamin Barrow flashed a lot to me early on in the day and regularly in team drills. I don’t know a lot about him as far as coverage goes, but he is very quick (he weighs 229 pounds as a linebacker) and was flying upfield against the run. He was reading his keys and reacting very quickly, at times before offensive linemen could even peel off their combo blocks to try to get to him at the 2nd level. He’s an undersized guy at 6’1″ 229 but he was very impressive against the run today despite his size.

Aaron Colvin also stuck out to me a lot even though I progressively began to watch the trenches throughout practice. He was one of the only guys who could hang with Jordan Matthews when I was watching and he had some really good coverage on him as well as a fantastic pass break-up on a deep ball downfield. I haven’t always been a big Colvin fan, but he was the best corner out there today. He was very quick in and out of his breaks, closed well on plays in front of him, and showed good ball skills. I was very impressed. Matthews didn’t have a great day though as he dropped multiple passes which overshadowed his quality route running.

I thought Cody Hoffman had a good day early on when I was watching him, but he is already struggling to create separation (which shouldn’t surprise people that have watched him play). However, that doesn’t worry me because of his ability to shield defenders from the ball with his body and make contested catches. He showed that today, but I didn’t like how easily Westbrooks jammed him up and completely took him out of the play in a 1 on 1 drill. He jammed him and rode him downfield and Hoffman couldn’t get off of it. I want to see him be more physical versus jams this week, because a guy at his size shouldn’t be getting beat up that easily like that. Kevin Norwood isn’t going to blow by you with pure speed, but he has some of the best hands here in my opinion and he flashed that today. I didn’t know who he was during practice, but Ryan Grant had a great day after an early drop. He was running very good routes and making nice catches with his hands.

As I focused on the trenches my favorite player by far today was Jon Halapio from Florida. I didn’t see him get beat once in 1 on 1 drills or in team, and while one time he was late coming off of a combo block he was good in the run game as well. He anchored great against anyone who rushed against him, didn’t get beat off the edge with speed no matter who he was going up against, and controlled his man once he got his hands on him. He didn’t look very good in space when he was trying to get outside on screens and doesn’t look like a great athlete, but he is EXACTLY what I want in a guard. He’s nasty, he can move you in the run game, and he’s good in pass protection. He was the best offensive linemen on the field today in my opinion.

Ja’Wuan James had an up and down day when I watched him, as he struggled with speed on one play, got beat inside by Cauran Reid on another, but then showed a good anchor against a Chris Smith bull rush. He’s a talented player, and I expect more from him than what I saw today. Morgan Moses showed that he might be a quality right tackle today as he held his own a couple times against Dee Ford but did get beat off the edge by him once. He really is athletic for such a large guy. Wesley Johnson looked out of place at tackle today and not to be overly critical, but he looked like a tight end out there size-wise at times. I think he’s going to have to move inside to guard at the next level, Dee Ford ate him alive a couple times off the edge.

I didn’t see as much of Travis Swanson as I wanted to today, but he had a solid day. He showed some ability to anchor against Daniel McCullers but looked stiff at times in pass protection and couldn’t anchor once Caraun Reid and Will Sutton got him on skates. Gabe Jackson had a good day when I watched him, though he did struggle with Will Sutton’s quickness and active hands a couple times in pass protection. He handled McCullers with ease once or twice, and is still one of my favorite guards this year. Gabe Ikard struggled today versus the quickness of Deandre Coleman (yes, Ikard was getting outquicked by a guy with 15 pounds on him) and Sutton gave him problems as well. I liked what I saw from Billy Turner at tackle though, even though he dropped his head a time or two in the run game and Chris Smith made him pay for it tossing him aside. He’s athletic enough to play tackle and he showed his patented nastiness in the run game when I saw him, so he had a good first day. He did get beat off the edge by Dee Ford, but so did everyone. Smith has a very impressive first step but I think people confuse that with great speed off the edge which I don’t believe he has. He’s strong at the point of attack despite being only 6’1″, and he can bull rush you if he gets you off balance with his first step, but he struggled to win off the edge in 1 on 1′s and team drills today. He has a role in the NFL, but he’s not going to be a stud pass rusher in my opinion.

I didn’t focus on quarterbacks today, but from what I saw Derek Carr was the most impressive. He has the strongest arm of the group by a considerable margin and he had a couple nice bucket throws downfield (though one was dropped by Matthews). It was the first day and he clearly wasn’t in synch with some of his receivers, but I’ve had a late 1st/early 2nd round grade on him for a while and he didn’t do a lot to make me want to change that today. He doesn’t have ideal height or hand size, and he’s not a franchise quarterback in my mind, but can be a quality starter in the NFL. Jimmy Garoppolo was riding a big time hype train coming into this week that I wasn’t sure was completely warranted (I thought he had a pretty good week in St. Pete, but I didn’t think he was great, nor did I think he deserved MVP of the Shrine Game, but I digress) and he didn’t do much to change my mind on that today. He looked unsure of what he was seeing as he was double clutching on some throws, and outside of a couple bucket throws down the sideline I didn’t see much intermediate or deep work from him. He’s got a quick release, but watching his arm next to Carr’s should have been eye opening for people heaping praise on him at the Shrine Game. David Fales’ arm didn’t look good next to Carr’s either, and some of his passes were floating a bit. He’s an accurate passer with a clear ceiling because of his arm, but I still think he can play in the NFL. He’s not a fit for every system, but a West Coast offense is still a good fit for him.

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 Post subject: Re: Draft Falcons: Senior Bowl Practice Reports Day 1
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 1:38 am 
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Aaron Donald is a beast and if he fell to our 2nd round pick the Falcons should give him strong consideration. I would not be opposed to the Falcons going with back to back D-lineman in the first two rounds like the Panthers did when they landed Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short.

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 Post subject: Re: Draft Falcons: Senior Bowl Practice Reports Day 1
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 4:11 am 
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The Mattural wrote:
Aaron Donald is a beast and if he fell to our 2nd round pick the Falcons should give him strong consideration. I would not be opposed to the Falcons going with back to back D-lineman in the first two rounds like the Panthers did when they landed Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short.

The Falcons could use their whole draft on linemen and I wouldn't complain.


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 Post subject: Re: Draft Falcons: Senior Bowl Practice Reports Day 1
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 1:07 pm 
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RobertAP wrote:
The Mattural wrote:
Aaron Donald is a beast and if he fell to our 2nd round pick the Falcons should give him strong consideration. I would not be opposed to the Falcons going with back to back D-lineman in the first two rounds like the Panthers did when they landed Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short.

The Falcons could use their whole draft on linemen and I wouldn't complain.


Amen brother!!! :pray:

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 Post subject: Re: Draft Falcons: Senior Bowl Practice Reports Day 1
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 2:15 pm 
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I would. Falcons need depth at all the skill positions. SHould be what most of Day 3 is devoted towards.

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 Post subject: Re: Draft Falcons: Senior Bowl Practice Reports Day 1
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2014 11:18 pm 
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Obviously we need depth as well. But I still wouldn't be upset if we used picks on all linemen. We could go after some UDFAs for depth. Look at how that worked out this year.


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 Post subject: Re: Draft Falcons: Senior Bowl Practice Reports Day 1
PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2014 2:42 am 
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Again, I would. The Falcons don't to spend their entire draft on linemen. They need to get some guys, and particularly need to devote the focus of the first and second days of the draft to adding better players in the trenches. But using 4th and 6th round picks on more backup-level talent on either line isn't really going to help them. The issue isn't whether or not the Falcons have functional depth on both lines, it's primarily that they lack top-end talent. Between Osi, Massaquoi, Biermann, Goodman, Babs, and Peters, the Falcons have 6 solid rotational players. What they are missing are the 2 guys to fill out that 8-man rotation that can be forces to be reckoned with. You're not going to find that in Rounds 4 or 6 in all likelihood, so why bother drafting them.

The same holds true with the offensive line. While they can find decent stopgap options on Day 3 of the draft, in reality it's unlikely that they are going to bring anything more to the table that players like Reynolds, Konz, Gunn, Holmes, Schraeder, Johnson, Hawley don't already bring, who coupled with Baker & Blalock all have shown they can play at the NFL level, but just haven't shown they can play consistently well. Instead, again what you need is top-end talent that is typically found in the first 2-3 rounds of the draft that can be upgrades over those guys.

I'm assuming that your statement about devoting the entire draft is more as a gesture of the commitment to get stronger in the trenches, rather than a practical way of improving either unit.

In a draft that is super deep at WR, there is a decent to good possibility that there will be talent at the top of Round 4 that in most classes would be scooped up at the end of Round 2. The Falcons would be foolish to pass that up as they did in previous years such as 2011 when it was a super-deep DL class and the Falcons only drafted Cliff Matthews in Round 7, or in 2010 when it was a super-deep TE class and the Falcons waited to sign Colin Peek and Michael Palmer as UDFAs. If you can find that much-needed vertical stretch receiver that is much more important than some developmental lineman that probably will sit the bench for 2-3 years and not contribute.

The Falcons are afforded the opportunity that they could potentially draft their RB of the future in Round 3 or 4. If that caliber of RB is found, then that will be way more beneficial to this team than some complementary starter on the offensive line, which as noted before, the Falcons have already plenty of.

If the team decides to dump DeCoud this offseason, it opens up the need to get a young FS probably in Rounds 3-4 that can come in and start right away or possibly sit behind a stopgap veteran for a year before he's asked to take over in Year 2 similar to what happened with DeCoud in '09. Again, the guy that will be the QB of our young secondary is far more important piece than some Lawrence Sidbury-esque developmental D-lineman.

The Falcons could also find a young dynamic receiving TE on Day 3 akin to a Jordan Cameron or Julius Thomas if they play their cards right. Or they could get a solid coverage linebacker that can help us better handle Jimmy Graham. Or perhaps a big, physical corner that can do the same. All of these things would be much smarter way to spend Day 3 of the draft.

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