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 Post subject: Falcons cross-training McClendon at center
PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 11:38 am 
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http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2013 ... portspreps

Jacques McClendon among area top 13 in line

by Stephen Hargis

Former Baylor School and University of Tennessee standout Jacques McClendon is with his fourth NFL team, the Atlanta Falcons, and is on the Times Free Press list of all-time top 13 area offensive linemen.

Throughout his football career, versatility and brute strength have separated Jacques McClendon from his sizable competition.

A three-year starter on both the offensive and defensive line at Baylor School, McClendon even caught passes as a tight end for a couple of games as a senior and was a U.S. Army All-American as well as a Parade magazine All-American. He played both tackle and guard at Tennessee and in 2008 was a starter on a line that allowed the fewest sacks in the nation, just one per 134 passes by Volunteers quarterbacks.

The 6-foot-3, 324-pound McClendon also set program records in the weight room at UT and was taken in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL draft by the Indianapolis Colts. After one season there, he played for two years with the Detroit Lions before being signed to the Atlanta Falcons' practice squad six games into last season.

After playing guard last season, McClendon began making the difficult transition to center during the Falcons' 2013 organized team activities.

"It's definitely a transition," McClendon said. "At first I just thought of myself as a guard who could snap it. By the end of OTAs I was feeling pretty confident with it. There's a lot of responsibility on you to make the right calls for the line at center. But if anything, it's made my football IQ even higher, and I think it will only add to my list of skills to bring to the team.

"All you can ask is to get an opportunity in this league, and I've got that. Once you get the opportunity, the rest is up to you, so I'm going to work as hard as I can to make the move to center."

As he enjoys the last few weeks with his family before returning to Atlanta to begin preseason camp, McClendon said he was surprised and honored when told he would be on the Times Free Press list of the 13 best offensive linemen in area history.

"I'm not even the best lineman who played at Baylor," McClendon joked, referring to Pro Hall of Famer John Hannah. "I mean, the greatest offensive lineman of all time played at Baylor, so just to be on a list with him is an incredible honor. Chattanooga is still home and still near and dear to me, so that means a lot.

"I've already been blessed to have the career I've had, and I know I'm blessed to be on a team where the sky's the limit," McClendon said, noting the Falcons' Super Bowl expectations. "You just feel like you're a part of a special team. It's one of the best situations I've been in.

"My wife and mom still live in Cleveland, so I'm close to home and in a place where we believe we can be really good. It's great to be a part of something like that."

Contact Stephen Hargis at shargis@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6293.

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons cross-training McClendon at center
PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 5:00 pm 
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I think we cross train too many people. Sure its great for one person to play two positions, but I don't remember many guards playing tackle. We need a right guard,
and probably a veteran center in case what's his name doesn't work out, (our guard who was suppose to be a center) ??

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons cross-training McClendon at center
PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 5:31 pm 
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If Konz struggles this year at center, the Falcons are royally f**ked.

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons cross-training McClendon at center
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2013 1:19 am 
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He'll struggle a lot; McCLURE was above average sometime during his decade plus!!

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons cross-training McClendon at center
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2013 3:47 pm 
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Cyril wrote:
He'll struggle a lot; McCLURE was above average sometime during his decade plus!!


You say he'll struggle, yet you don't explain at all. Then you bring up McClure on how he was above average. Please explain your posts instead of making empty claims.

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons cross-training McClendon at center
PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2013 4:19 pm 
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What I mean by "struggle" is akin to what Konz did last year, where he looked like he didn't belong in the starting lineup. If he's just a serviceable starting center (like Baker is/was a serviceable starting left tackle), then that's fine at least for the time being assuming he improves in 2014 & beyond. The hope is that he'll be more than serviceable, and actually be good if not better than McClure was last year. I think that's certainly a possibility given that McClure probably was the worst he's been in like 6 or 7 years last year (he too would have been described as serviceable last year).

But if anybody on this team's OL is going to turn into a good starter, IMO Konz has the best chance. And thus if he struggles despite moving to his more natural position this year, then the Falcons will need to think strongly about making a big splash in FA next year and using their top pick on an OL as well.

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons cross-training McClendon at center
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 1:11 am 
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Well, here's my argument... McClure would have been a crappy guard. McClure did not have much in the way of size/strength. Guards are typically much bigger/stronger than centers. Konz is actually much taller and heavier than McClure. I doubt that he is much stronger than McClure. As a rookie, Konz was able to make strides playing RG. I believe that Konz experience at RG will help him out quite a bit this year at center.

The center position is less physical, but more heady than guard or tackle. One thing that I see over and over about Konz, and I always saw it with McClure, people list, "intelligence," as one of his strengths. As such, I think that with Konz's extra size, and supposedly good smarts, he will be at least as good of a center as McClure was.


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 Post subject: Re: Falcons cross-training McClendon at center
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 10:08 am 
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There's a reason why big centers often don't achieve a high degree of success in the pros, because it's not a power position. Center is much more an athletic position than probably most think, seemingly due to the sheer number of fans that want to have a big 315-pounder in there to clear running lanes.

Blocking schemes aren't really designed for that. Traits that centers tend to need to be successful is quick feet, quick hands, and an ability to understand angles and leverage, not pure power which is the case with many guards that come into the league.

So much of it is about your hands when you play the center position, which is why many successful NFL centers played tackle in college (e.g. Matt Birk, Jeremy Zuttah, Justin Hartwig, Jamaal Jackson, Tyson Walter, Max Unger) as opposed to guard. And the guards that typically do succeed at C (e.g. Mike Pouncey) often are very athletic guards, not the sort of lumbering types. Many NFL guards are basically unathletic tackles, which doesn't translate well to center. Instead you want athletic tackles, but just ones that are a little too short or a little to light to play there in the NFL.

The average size of an NFL starting center is 6-3 and some change and 305 pounds.

You look at the Top 10 centers graded by Pro Football Focus this past year, and only 2 are bigger than 310: #9 Alex Mack at 311 pounds, and #10 Jon Goodwin at 318. And Mack of course was an elite C prospect, a true blue 1st round talent at the position. Goodwin came into the league as a G that people believed could play C. But people should remember that Goodwin didn't really become a good/effective starter until his 7th season in the league. The previous 6 years he was mainly a backup (15 combined starts in his first 6 seasons).

Just because Konz is bigger than McClure doesn't mean squat. Being an effective run blocker from the center position is less about strength and power and leverage and hand speed. McClure was very good at this. He wasn't going to create push up the middle, but he didn't need to. It's more about walling off and redirecting a guy to create lanes. It's more about getting downfield and locating that MLB, locking on and springing the back for that 10-15 yard gain. Konz struggled when asked to block moving targets from the OG position last year, and he'll need to improve there.

Don't get me wrong, I think Konz has the tools and ability to develop in these areas and be very good. But it's not going to be automatic. And if he struggles and looks as lost at center as he did at guard last year, then the Falcons are really going to have to blow up their OL in the coming years and really invest in building it up with talent, as opposed to settling for mediocre players which they have done with Blalock and Baker.

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 Post subject: Re: Falcons cross-training McClendon at center
PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 6:38 pm 
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From what I saw of Konz, he got pushed around a lot. But again, that's to be expected because he's not a guard. His physical build is typically what you'd expect from an OT. And again, you had McClure next to him, who is not a strength guy. That's why the interior right side of the line looked absolutely horrible at times last year, and why I wanted us to go out and get a road grading RG this year. I believe that we're absolutely screwed at the RG position. If Konz looks like he's not working out at center, I'd look carefully at who we have lining up to his right. I'm baffled at how TD and Smith can absolutely ignore the RG spot.


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 Post subject: Re: Falcons cross-training McClendon at center
PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 1:39 am 
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Quote:
He'll struggle a lot; McCLURE was above average sometime during his decade plus!!


You say he'll struggle, yet you don't explain at all. Then you bring up McClure on how he was above average. Please explain your posts instead of making empty claims.


Its too obvious except I guess for you....... McClure or anyone who stays starting in the NFL for over ten years is better than average. I'm assuming you know what average is??

Konze was poor enough last year that to imagine too much improvement doesn't make since.

Come on Emmitt, you follow the Falcons and the NFL to much not to be able to fill in those blanks. I don't
want to talk down to the forum.

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