Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews
Recapping all the latest from the Atlanta Falcons in regards to pro day visits and draft interest from this past week:
Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff was present at Texas A&M on Tuesday to mingle with old colleagues and check out offensive tackle Jake Matthews. Matthews was the main attraction since quarterback Johnny Manziel and wide receiver Mike Evans opted not to work out, instead waiting for a later workout planned for March 27. Matthews stuck with positional drills, standing on his Combine numbers from last month.
Matthews is considered a potential target for the Falcons at the top of May’s draft.
Of those that did participate, running back Ben Malena measured in at 5-8, 194 pounds and did 27 bench reps of 225 pounds, ran a 4.54-second 40 time and jumped 33.5 inches on his vertical leap.
D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC reports that the Falcons sent two representatives to Clemson’s pro day on Friday, including new hire Billy Devaney, to check out that school’s top prospects.
While wide receiver Sammy Watkins drew a lot of praise from onlookers, Ledbetter touts quarterback Tajh Boyd’s performance. Boyd, who struggled during the Senior Bowl, was able to rebound by completing 66 of 67 scripted passes at his workout throwing to receivers like Watkins.
SB Nation’s Bull Run reports that Falcons area scout Mike Potts was expected to be on hand at the University at Buffalo’s pro day today among representatives from 19 other teams. There, Potts would get the chance to see outside linebacker Khalil Mack, one of the premier draft prospects this year.
After an impressive Combine performance last month where Mack clocked a 4.65-second 40-yard dash, today he was able to improve his time to somewhere between 4.53 and 4.55 seconds according to several stopwatches. Mack failed to improve upon his 23 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press from the Combine today. Also at Indianapolis, Mack lept 40 inches on the vertical jump as well as timed 7.08 seconds in the three-cone drill.
Mack finished his career as Buffalo’s all-time leader in sacks (28.5), tackles for loss (75) and forced fumbles (16).
Other Buffalo prospects trying to take advantage of the high attendance were running back Branden Oliver (26 bench reps, 4.63-second 40), safety Okoye Houston (4.56 40) and cornerback Najja Johnson (4.38 40).
Reports surfaced this morning that the Atlanta Falcons had sent representatives to Auburn University for that school’s pro day today. Most likely they were on hand to see Auburn’s bevy of draft prospects including Greg Robinson, widely considered this year’s most talented offensive tackle.
But it was outside linebacker Dee Ford who stole the show, working out for the first time due to sitting out at last month’s Combine in Indianapolis because of a back injury. Ford showed no ill effects, impressing with a 40-yard dash time of 4.54 seconds, 29 bench reps of 225 pounds, a broad jump of 10 feet, 4 inches and vertical jump of 35.5 inches. He also weighed in at 244 pounds, eight pounds lighter than his weight at Indianapolis.
Robinson also dropped weight since the Combine, down five pounds at 327 pounds. He mostly stood on his Combine numbers, as he wowed observers in Indianapolis with a 4.92-second 40 time, 9 foot-5 inch broad jump and 32 bench reps. Robinson is already beginning to line up private workouts with one scheduled with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers later this week.
Other notes from workouts on Tuesday for Auburn were:
- Defensive back Blake Poole was timed a 4.38 seconds in his 40-yard dash.
- Fullback Jay Prosch ran a 4.72-second 40 and did 27 bench reps.
- Cornerback Chris Davis ran a 40 in 4.51 seconds and jumped 40.5 inches on his vertical.
- Running back Tre Mason stood on most of his Combine results but did run a 6.7-second three-cone.
Auburn’s Greg Robinson is becoming more popular as a potential Falcons target
The offseason is here and it is time to look at the many mock drafts that have been published around the internet’s top draft websites focusing on what the so-called draft experts are projecting the Atlanta Falcons to do with the sixth overall pick.
This is the third update with a total of 93 mocks munched from the beginning of January through mid-February. Anthony Barr still holds the lead, appearing in 27 total mocks. But Greg Robinson is starting to close the gap by appearing in 21 total, 12 of which have come in February. That latter figure is tied for the lead for the month with Jake Matthews, who has appeared in 24 total mocks thus far. Robinson is also tied for the lead in “unique” mocks with Barr with a total of 16. There’s more on what constitutes a unique mock after the jump.
2.17 – NFL.com (Pat Kirwan): OT Greg Robinson, Auburn
2.17 - Walter Football (Charlie Campbell): OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo
2.17 – NFL Draft Geek: OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
2.17 – FF Toolbox (Users): OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
2.13 – Draft Daddy (Glenn Bernardi): OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
2.12 – Walter Football: OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo
2.12 – Draft King: DE Kony Ealy, Missouri
2.12 – Ourlads: DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
2.12 - Draft Tek: OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA
2.12 – Draft Season (Lomas): OT Greg Robinson, Auburn
2.12 – FF Toolbox (Rob Warner): OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
2.11 – NFL.com (Daniel Jeremiah): OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo
2.11 – CBS Sports (Rob Rang): OLB Khalil Mack, Buffalo
2.11 – CBS Sports (Dane Brugler): OT Greg Robinson, Auburn
2.11 – CBS Sports (Pete Prisco): OT Greg Robinson, Auburn
2.11 – TFY Draft Insider: OT Greg Robinson, Auburn
2.11 – FF Toolbox (Matt De Lima): DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
2.10 – NFL.com (Charles Davis): OT Greg Robinson, Auburn
2.10 – Blogging Dirty: DE Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina
2.10 - Draft Season (Onebar): OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M
2.09 – Draft Ace: OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA
2.07 – FOX Sports (Joel Klatt): OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA
2.07 – Draft Season (Ultimate): OT Greg Robinson, Auburn
2.06 – ESPN Insider (Todd McShay): OT Jake Matthews, Texas A&M (subscription required)
2.06 – ESPN Insider (Mel Kiper): OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA (subscription required)
2.06 – Football’s Future: OLB Anthony Barr, UCLA
2.06 – SI.com (Doug Farrar): OT Greg Robinson, Auburn
Could Jake Matthews be Atlanta’s target?
Last offseason, I didn’t do nearly as much draft-related homework as I had done in past years, and thus the amount of draft-related content generated by the site was down. I only produced three mock drafts, and the first one didn’t get published until March.
This year, I plan on changing those things as I intend to dive head-first into the draft this offseason in what will be a pivotal one for the Atlanta Falcons. And thus, this change starts with my very first mock draft of the year.
Now, like anybody that understands the draft process should already know, doing a mock draft before free agency is essentially a shot in the dark. Mock drafts are highly inaccurate to begin with, but projections made before March are even more so. Teams will address key needs in free agency, thus eliminating the possibility that they draft a player at that position. In a lot of these instances in this pre-free agency mock, I’ll be guessing at what teams might do that could affect the draft and will make note of some possible scenarios that could play out.
Let’s get started. Underclassmen are denoted by an asterisk (*).
1. Houston Texans – QB Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville*
John McClain is arguably the most respected NFL beat writer in the country, and when he says the Texans will take a quarterback, then the Texans will take a quarterback. Frankly, Texans fans would riot and destroy the city of Houston if they opened up the 2014 season with Matt Schaub as their quarterback. So the only question is which of the quarterbacks the Texans will take. Ultimately, I think it’s going to be Bridgewater. Despite recent reports to the contrary, he’s the most complete passer in this class. I suspect that he won’t be a slam dunk selection, similar to last year’s No. 1 overall pick where we really didn’t know until the day of the draft that Eric Fisher would be the top selection. Thus, there will be plenty of drama that unfolds over the next three months.
The Atlanta Falcons announced today that Mike Smith and the rest of the team’s coaching staff will coach the North Team in the Senior Bowl that will be played later this month in Mobile, Alabama. The Senior Bowl is an annual all-star game featuring the top senior players from college football preparing for the upcoming NFL Draft. The Jacksonville Jaguars will coach the South team. Each team will handle the week of practices with their stable of players, and then coach them in the game which will be played at the end of the week on January 25 in Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile.
This will mark the first time the Falcons have coached at the Senior since 1978 per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC. Assignments for who coaches the two teams generally go to teams with stable coaching situations near the top of the draft. Given the changes made among coaching staffs with the Houston Texans, Washington Redskins, and Cleveland Browns, and uncertainty surrounding the status of Dennis Allen with the Oakland Raiders, the Jaguars and Falcons became the obvious choices for heading up Senior Bowl practices. The Jaguars hold the third overall selection, while the Falcons are set to pick sixth.
The week of close exposure to the players on the North team should give the Falcons a leg-up in terms of player evaluations. In most years, it typically leads to several prospects being drafted for the respective teams.
Although the order of the final twelve selections in the first round of May’s upcoming 2014 NFL Draft won’t be determined until the Super Bowl is played, the Atlanta Falcons do know where they will be selecting. Due to their 4-12 record in 2013, the Falcons will hold the sixth overall choice in the first round of the draft.
The first day of the draft is scheduled for Thursday, May 8, and will be held over the next two days through May 10.
Here is my breakdown of the Falcons final pick in Duke quarterback Sean Renfree:
Height: 6-3 1/8
Speed: 4.76 (estimate)
Was recruited by Jim Harbaugh at Stanford, but ultimately chose Duke when Andrew Luck landed there. Became the starter as a redshirt sophomore. Showed improvement with his production every year, culminating in career highs in completions, completion percentage, and touchdowns as a senior. Posted his best record as a starter that year, leading Duke to a 6-6 record and their first bowl appearance since 1994. Nearly led the Blue Devils to a win over Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl, but a last minute touchdown pass lifted the Bearcats over them. Wound up injuring himself on the last play of the game, getting hit and tearing his pectoral muscle. That torn pec led to him not throwing in the off-season and not working out at either the Combine or his pro day. Is expected to begin throwing at some point in May before training camp begins. Renfree was coached by David Cutcliffe, a noted QB guru, at Duke. Pretty much every starting QB that has played under Cutcliffe since 1991 has played in the NFL: Heath Shuler (1991-93), Peyton Manning (1994-97), Tee Martin (1998), Romaro Miller (1999-00), Eli Manning (2000-03), Brady Quinn (2005), Erik Ainge (2006-07), Thad Lewis (2008-09), to Renfree. He was a three-time Academic All-ACC selection as well as served as Duke’s team captain his final two years.
Here’s a look at the second safety the Falcons selected in the seventh round in Zeke Motta.
Height: 6-2 1/4
School: Notre Dame
Speed: 4.71 (Campus)
He split reps with Jamoris Slaughter during his sophomore and junior seasons at strong safety, playing opposite Harrison Smith. After Smith was drafted in 2012, he moved to free safety as a senior in his lone season as a full-time starter. He had career highs in tackles. Not a great coverage guy, Motta has good size and is an active run defender. But like many of his Notre Dame brethren, Motta’s stock was hurt by the fact that he had an underwhelming game against Alabama in the National Championship. He did lead the team with tackles in that game, recording a career-high 16 but many of those were made several yards downfield after successful Alabama runs or throws. Then his stock was hurt even more with a slow 40 time at the Combine (4.83). His first name is short for Ezekiel.
I have to be honest, when the Falcons made Kemal Ishmael the first of three seventh round picks, I didn’t have a clue who he was. But I went back and watched tape of him while he was at Central Florida, and here is what I came away with…
Height: 5-10 3/4
School: Central Florida
Speed: 4.63 (Campus)
A four-year starter that started 49 consecutive games over his career at UCF at free safety. Ishmael was a highly productive run-defending safety that was a tackling machine during his days in school. He led the Golden Knights defense in tackles in his last three years, culminating in a senior year where he had career highs in every statistical category. He had a knack for making plays, including a total of 6 turnovers (3 interceptions and 3 forced fumbles). He set the school record for career tackles among defensive backs. A player that lacks ideal NFL measurables, but managed to get by with toughness, work ethic, and leadership. He hails from the same high school in Miami as Louis Delmas, currently with the Detroit Lions.