Falcons add beef in the trenches
Two of the more memorable moments of the Falcons 2011 season were their futile attempts in short-yardage during their Week 10 overtime loss against the New Orleans Saints and against the New York Giants in the opening round of the playoffs. Well it appears the Falcons have taken steps in the 2012 draft to correct those issues, by using their two picks on the second day of the draft on a pair of beefy offensive linemen. Wisconsin center Peter Konz was the Falcons second round pick (55th overall) and Southern Miss tackle Lamar Holmes was taken in the third (91st overall).
For more than a decade, center Todd McClure has been a fixture as the anchor of the Falcons offensive line. McClure, undersized by NFL standards at 6’1? 296 pounds, could potentially give way to the 6’5? 314-pound Konz in the future. Holmes standing at 6’5? 323, also is considerably larger than either of the men he could potentially replace in the future at left tackle: Sam Baker (6’5? 301) and Will Svitek (6’6? 308). Earlier this off-season, the team also signed free agent guard Vince Manuwai, who sports a 6’2″ 333-pound frame, the bulkiest on the team.
Konz is expected to immediately compete with Manuwai for the vacant right guard spot. Both McClure and Manuwai’s contract expire after the season, and it’s possible Konz could kick inside to center. Or he could potentially remain at right guard if Joe Hawley continues to improve. Holmes should be in the potential three-way competition at left tackle, but likely will be expected to fill in as the team’s swing tackle. With Tyson Clabo entrenched on the right side, that could mean that Baker and Svitek could be competing for a single roster spot this summer.
If the Falcons don’t manage to get push this upcoming season, it won’t be because they lack the beef to do so. It appears that the Falcons are planning on recommitting themselves to running the football this year, and in the future. But the added bodies via the draft, certainly will shake up competition and presumably at this point in time only McClure, Justin Blalock, and Clabo are assured roster spots among the incumbents. The rest of the lineup could be in a state of flux.