I’m listing some players that I think depending on their Combine performances over the next few days will start to pick up more steam as potentially draft picks for the Falcons, as well as guys that could be in a position to rise up other teams’ draft boards in general.
RB Robert Turbin, Utah State
Like many underclassman, Turbin has generally gone under the radar so far. It is generally the Combine where some of these lesser known players can rise. While it doesn’t seem like the running back position is going to be a high priority for the Falcons this April, it would behoove them to start thinking about the future of this position. Turbin is an excellent physical specimen, with a short, squat, but think build similar to Michael Turner. He probably is not going to have a blazing 40 time, but if he can run in the low 4.5s, he’s a player that can start to solidify his status as a potential Top 50 pick.
WR Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech
The local product is trying to follow in the steps of Demaryius Thomas as one of the premier second tier wide receiver prospects. Hill has excellent size and athleticism at 6’4″, and like Thomas he’s more a long strider. That can bode very well when it comes to the 40-yard dash. Again, the Falcons probably won’t be looking to make a major move at the wide receiver position given they just drafted Julio Jones, but Hill has the potential to solidify his status as a second round pick with a strong workout.
TE Orson Charles, Georgia
Because Charles is a junior, he’s not going as much love. But Charles can do something similar to Ben Watson did several years ago, which is if he has a strong workout, he can start to rise up boards. Watson ultimately wound up being a late first round pick. Who the top tight end off the board is ripe for the taking, and strong combines helped Watson and Dustin Keller a few years later improve their draft stock greatly. While a strong Combine could probably mean Charles will be drafted before the Falcons are on the clock, his moving up the board could have several implications on which tight end might be in the Falcons range.
TE DeAngelo Peterson, LSU
Peterson is another good athletic SEC tight end, that was a bit underused in LSU’s offense this past year. If he has a good Combine workout, much of that lack of production can be forgiven in scout’s eyes. And while he’s more of a middle round pick at this point, he could start to rise and be in the mix in the second round range, where many suspect the Falcons could target a tight end.
TE Ladarius Green, UL-Lafayette
Green is another tight end that could start to see his stock rise with a good Combine. And coupled with these other players near the top of the class, could turn what was previously conceived as a mediocre draft class at this position into a strong one. Green is the physical specimen of the group, standing 6’6″ and playing more like an oversized receiver. If he can couple that size and athleticism with a good 40 time, he might be in the conversation as well for the Falcons top pick.
OT Bobby Massie, Ole Miss
Massie followed Michael Oher at Ole Miss and despite not receiving the same acclaim, is probably as good an athlete as his predecessor. Massie spent his entire career at right tackle, but certainly possesses the sort of athleticism that teams look for and want in their left tackles. A strong Combine workout that displays that athleticism could solidify him as one of the Top 5 tackles in this draft class.
OT Matt McCants, UAB
McCants played at the Senior Bowl, and did not use that opportunity to really solidify his draft stock going up against some of the top pass rushers on the South team. But he’ll get another chance at the Combine. As mentioned previously, teams fall in love with athletic tackles, and McCants has that potential with his size (6’6″) and long arms, he every bit looks the part of a top NFL left tackle. He’ll need a strong Combine, and he might start to move up to the late second round as a potential target for the Falcons.
DE Chandler Jones, Syracuse
There’s no doubt the Falcons need to upgrade their pass rush, and Jones is another underclassman that has gone a bit under the radar. While he’s already being projected to go in the second round range, a strong Combine workout where his size and athleticism will be on display could really cause his stock to rise, and he may be the favored target of Falcons draftniks when projecting which pass rusher hopefully is there for the team in Round Two.
OLB Terrell Manning, N.C. State
Another position that the Falcons aren’t really in the market for, but Manning definitely has a chance to improve his stock greatly. As an underclassman that surprisingly came out, he’s gone under the radar. But Manning has the sort of speed and athleticism that reminds you a lot of a younger version of Sean Weatherspoon before he polished his game completely during his final years at Missouri. If Manning can clock a strong 40 time, his stock should jump high.
OLB Jonathan Massaquoi, Troy
He might be a bit more on the Falcons radar because he’s a pass rusher that played end in college. But he’s being projected as a 3-4 linebacker because of his lack of ideal size. But if Massaquoi comes to Indianapolis and tips the scales around 260 and still is able to showcase his athleticism and speed, he might start to gain more traction as a defensive end. Troy has produced a number of good pass rushers over the years (e.g. Osi Umenyiora, Demarcus Ware), and Massaquoi intends to be the next in line.
ILB Mychael Kendricks, California
Drafting an inside linebacker is hopefully not in the cards for the Falcons given this team’s potential to re-sign Curtis Lofton. But if that were not to occur and the Falcons were looking for an eventual replacement, Kendricks might be a guy that comes on their radar. He’s not the biggest guy out there, being listed at around 5’11” 240, but he’s got excellent straight-line speed and was an adept pass rusher in Cal’s 3-4 scheme. If he clocks a fast 40, he should see his stock rise.