Archive for May, 2012

Falcons cut Mughelli

May 8th, 2012 Comments off

The Falcons announced today that Ovie Mughelli was released from the team. Rumors of Ovie’s eventual departure began the moment the team used a fifth round pick on Bradie Ewing in last month’s draft. Ovie’s release is by no means a surprise, as it was predicted as a possibility way back in January on this site, but it is unfortunate given the timing. Per the AJC, he was cleared to return to practice this past Friday. And had the team decided to cut him at any point in the past 8 weeks since free agency began, it could have given him more opportunities to find a landing spot with another team and a potential starting position.

Mughelli was signed by the Falcons in 2007 to what was at the time the most lucrative deal ever given to a fullback. Although, Bobby Petrino’s offense made minimal use of that position, and thus Mughelli languished on that team during the Falcons poor season. With the introduction of Mike Smith, Mike Mularkey, and Michael Turner to the offense, Mughelli’s value increased a hundredfold. Over the course of the next three seasons, Mughelli staked out a reputation as one of the league’s top fullbacks and lead blockers in the league, culminating in him being voted to the Pro Bowl in 2010. In 2011, Mughelli suffered a knee injury in the season opener against the Chicago Bears. The injury limited him in subsequent games before he was forced to be shut down for the season at the end of October.

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An Early Look at Camp Battles and the Final Roster

May 6th, 2012 1 comment

It’s hard to predict the final 53, certainly at this point because injuries are always a factor. Guys get hurt in camp, and thus open up opportunities for others. The team also does a nice job scouring the waiver wire at the end of August for other teams’ cuts to add to the roster. And what areas they target depends heavily on which units did not bring the sort of competition envisioned. For example, if Ovie Mughelli is limited early in camp due to his recovering from his knee injury, it could open the door for either Mike Cox or Bradie Ewing to win the starting job. And if that is the case, it’s highly unlikely the team will keep Mughelli as a resreve. And if Ewing is the one that emerges as the starter, then it might prompt the team to keep one fullback on the roster, have Snelling serve as his primary backup, and thus keep a fourth tailback like Frey, Nance, or Smith.

First let’s go through the players that are locked in, meaning they are near certainties to make the roster unless injuries occur:

Quarterback (2): Matt Ryan, Chris Redman
Running Back (4): Michael Turner, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jason Snelling, Bradie Ewing
Wide Receiver (3): Julio Jones, Roddy White, Harry Douglas
Tight End (2): Tony Gonzalez, Michael Palmer
Offensive Line (5): Justin Blalock, Tyson Clabo, Todd McClure, Peter Konz, Lamar Holmes
Defensive End (3): Ray Edwards, John Abraham, Kroy Biermann
Defensive Tackle (2): Jonathan Babineaux, Corey Peters
Linebacker (4): Stephen Nicholas, Lofa Tatupu, Sean Weatherspoon, Akeem Dent
Cornerback (4): Brent Grimes, Dunta Robinson, Asante Samuel, Dominique Franks
Safety (2): William Moore, Thomas DeCoud
Specialist (2): Matt Bryant, Matt Bosher

That’s a grand total of 33 players that are locks to make the roster. That leaves 20 roster spots open. It’s likely that the following players will have the best chances to fill those:

Running Back (1): Ovie Mughelli
Wide Receiver (1): Kerry Meier
Offensive Line (2): Joe Hawley, Andrew Jackson
Defensive End (2): Lawrence Sidbury, Jonathan Massaquoi
Defensive Tackle (1): Vance Walker
Linebacker (1): Spencer Adkins
Cornerback (1): Darrin Walls
Safety (2): Shann Schillinger, Charles Mitchell

That’s 11 players that are strong probabilities that they will find their way on the final roster, leaving a total of 9 spots remaining.

Read more…

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Scouting Report: Jonathan Massaquoi

May 5th, 2012 Comments off

Jonathan Massaquoi

I wanted to get this up sooner, but I finally gone back and looked at tape of the Falcons newest fifth round pick on the defensive side of the ball. Massaquoi was a player that first came to my attention in the 2010 New Orleans Bowl, where he utterly dominated Ohio’s offensive line to have 8 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks in that game. From that game he looked like he had the potential to be a stud pass rusher at the next level.

But after watching four games of his from this past year, I’m not nearly as impressed with him. Here are some of the things I saw on tape:

Pros: Has nice straight-line burst off the edge. He plays with a high motor and continues until the whistle. Does a good job timing snaps and getting a good jump to get the offensive tackle off-balanced. Will use his hands at times to keep blockers off him and get extension. Flashes ability as a bull rusher, able to get his hands inside and jolt the tackle off the snap. Can make the quick inside counter move to collapse the pocket from the edge. Has experience dropping into coverage on zone blitzes, and does a nice job with his backpedal and footwork.

Cons: Doesn’t have the first step or burst off the edge to really wow you. His first step is really only effective against the lesser tackles he faces. If he cannot win with his first step, he struggles to disengage and win battles. Gets pushed around too easily and knocked off his rush when tackles get their hands on him. Struggles to get leverage at the point of attack and tends to get swarmed under when you run directly at him. He doesn’t show great recognition to maintain the edge. Not a very good open field tackler because he doesn’t do a great job breaking down and ducks his head. Doesn’t change direction well when you get him in space, and can get caught out of position against the run there. Doesn’t show great hips when he drops in coverage, and is very straight-line.

I think part of hte reason why Massaquoi shined in 2010 vs. Ohio was because he was much lighter than he was in 2011. He was listed at 252 back in 2010, but appeared to play much closer to 260-265 range as a junior in 2011. That additional weight seemed to make him lose a step. While he does have decent burst, it didn’t look good enough where he was going to really beat starting-calber NFL tackles with it. The hope for the Falcons is that the burst can return once he gets a bit more used to playing at the additional weight.

Another reason is that Troy’s defense doesn’t really take full advantage of Massaquoi’s skillset. He plays left defensive end in their defense, and too often I saw him lined up in a 5-technique or over the tackle. Forcing him to use his hands rather than his speed. His hands are by far his weakest aspect. But he still managed to be productive in the four games I saw when he was able to pin his ears back and get after the quarterback. But a lot of his pressures came from him being able to time snaps very well rather than him being able to simply win with his burst alone.

Overall, Massaquoi reminds me a lot of Lawrence Sidbury. Sidbury playing at Richmond also didn’t have a high degree of competition on a weekly basis. Sidbury too could prey on the weakest offensive tackles he faced. Massaquoi and Sidbury’s burst are similar, and like Sidbury I think Massaquoi can be a very good situational/rotational player. But he’ll likley be very limited in a starter’s role because of his lack of size and the fact that he doesn’t have the burst to really be a force off the edge.

And thusly, like Sidbury, I don’t see Massaquoi doing a whole lot his rookie season. And may not be a guy that will contribute until his third year. Unless he can add strength and learn how to use his hands better, it’s hard to see Massaquoi doing much more. One thing I did like about him that could be developed is his bull rush. He could at times get his hands inside and jolt tackles off the ball. He still hasn’t quite mastered the ability to lock on and drive the blocker into the backfield, but that can come in time.

Overall, I believe Massaquoi is a nice depth option for the Falcons that can be developed to help out the rotation in time. His potential to play in coverage might be a little better than the Falcons current group of edge rushers, but it’s probably not a skillset that will be developed to any high degree.

Falcons add Calvin, cut two

May 2nd, 2012 Comments off

The team announced the addition of undrafted free agent wide receiver Mike Calvin (California) today. Calvin was first reported to sign with the team on Sunday, but was not part of the team’s initial list of 22 free agent signings. To make room for roster, the Falcons cut tackle Kyle Jolly and long snapper Scott Albritton. The Falcons also placed tight end Ryan Winterswyk on the reserve/retired list on Monday, freeing up that roster spot as well.

Calvin impressed with his size (6-3/210) and speed (4.34) at Cal’s pro day this past spring, although he had very limited production in college. His best season came as a senior, where he caught 20 passes for 269 yards (13.5 avg), and 1 touchdown.

Jolly spent 2010 on the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad, but then joined the Falcons practice squad this past November. He was re-signed to a future contract after the season. Albritton was an undrafted free agent with the Houston Texans this past summer, and then was cut prior to the season. He spent a brief time on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers active roster in September, but did not play in a game. He was signed by the Falcons this past January. Winterswyk was an undrafted free agent signed by the team last summer that was cut before the season began with an injury settlement. He was re-signed by the Falcons to their practice squad late in the season before being re-signed to a future contract after the season.

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