An article by John Clayton, about how the "pedigree" positions such as QB, WR, LT, DE, and CB are more and more beign found only on the first day of the draft:http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/columns/s ... 9165&num=0
I think it just confirms my belief that if you want starting-caliber players, you need to find them in the first 4 rounds. It's not impossible to find quality starters in the final 3 rounds, because in most drafts, there are quite a few players that I think are 2nd/3rd round talents (meaning potential starters) that slip to Rounds 6 and 7, but if you're relying on a 5th round pick or 6th rounder to be a starter within the first 2-3 years of his career, you will likely be disappointed.
I also think it leads me to believe that if the Falcons continue to draft late round OL, which is something Gibbs prefers, it will ultimately mean that the OL will not improve significantly.
Gibbs in '95 in Denver, had the benefit of having a group of solid veteran players that really fit well with his scheme. There was still many of those "80s" OL that only weighed 285 pounds and were finesse blockers to make Gibbs scheme work. Harry Swayne, Tony Jones, Gary Zimmerman, Broderick Thompson, Mark Schlereth, etc. were the guys that would make a name for themselves in Denver over the next few years. All entered the league between 1985-89, and I don't believe a single one weighed more than 295 pounds. All were guys acquired by the Broncos either through trade or free agency.
The Falcons now however do not have that luxury of relying on old school players to build their O-line with. The cat-quick 285-pound finesse O-Lineman is a rarity in today's NFL. By now, most guys in college are going through that system, trying to put on as much bulk as possible. People are entering the league weighing 320 pounds. Now the "prototype" OT weighs more than 340, which was pretty much unheard even as recently as 1995.
Now this doesn't mean I think Gibbs should change his scheme. But I think what you've seen in Denver since Dennison took over full-time, is the Broncos going after guys that were not ideal fits under Gibbs. Gibbs probably would have never taken George Foster in Round 1, a guy that is a great athlete, but at about 340 pounds, is not exactly "Gibbs-ish." Ephraim Salaam, Blake Brockermeyer, and the recent signing of Anthony Clement, show that Dennison is trying to incorporate the bigger guys into the scheme.
Next year's OT draft class is one that many are touting as excellent, and there is definitely a bit of talent at the top of the draft. It's a bit too early to predict which OL the Falcons may/will target next year, but considering how strong the draft class looks at the top, with some saying there are as many as 3 "franchise" LTs in Round 1 (i.e. Top 10-15 talents), the Falcons would be mistaken to overlook any.