Falcons look at several West Coast prospects
Tony Pauline of TFY Draft Insider has been on top of the Falcons conducting workouts of several West Coast prospects this weekend. Yesterday, Pauline tweeted that the Falcons worked out a number of prospects at Mira Costa High School in Manhattan Beach, CA. Among them were UCLA defensive end Datone Jones and running back Johnathan Franklin along San Diego State tight end Gavin Escobar and cornerback Leon McFadden. Per Pauline, Jones had an impressive workout. Today, the Falcons were set to look at a group of prospects from the Bay Area including Cal center Brian Schwenke, Stanford tight ends Levine Toilolo and Zach Ertz as well as running back Stepfan Taylor. Tomorrow, the Falcons will look at cornerback Jamar Taylor (Boise State).
Jones, Ertz, and Taylor have been projected as potential targets for the Falcons top pick on April 25. Franklin, Escobar, McFadden, and Schwenke have been graded by many to be potential second day targets for the team. Toilolo is considered a late round prospect, while Stepfan Taylor is likely to be taken in the middle rounds.
Datone Jones had his most productive year as a senior, with 62 tackles, 19 for loss, and 5.5 sacks. He played predominantly end for UCLA, but also got opportunities to line up inside at defensive tackle and rush the passer. Franklin got off to a fast start this past year, rushing for over 200 yards in his first two games, making him an early Heisman candidate. He finished the season with 282 carries for 1734 yards (6.1 avg) and 13 touchdowns. He also caught 33 passes, excelling in the zone blocking scheme incorporated by new head coach Jim Mora this past year. He is noted for his speed (4.49 second 40) and quickness.
Ertz is considered alongside Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert to be the premier tight end in this year’s class. He had his best year as a senior with 69 catches for 898 yards (13.0 avg) and 6 touchdowns, the leader for the team. His teammate Toilolo was highly-touted going into the season, but had disappointing production with inconsistent hands. He finished the year with 24 catches for 393 yards (16.4 avg) and 4 touchdowns. But his large frame (6-8, 260 pounds) and blocking potential still means he could be a solid NFL player. Stepfan Taylor has been a workhorse for Stanford the past three seasons since taking over for Toby Gerhart. He put together his best season this past fall with career highs of 320 carries for 1530 yards (4.8 avg), coupled with 13 touchdowns. He also improved as a pass catcher with 41 catches, second on the team. Taylor isn’t blessed with great size or speed (4.76 second 40 at the Combine), but is a powerful consistent runner that can at least carve out a role as a quality backup in the pros.
Escobar didn’t have as productive a year as many hoped this year, thanks in part due to the departure of quarterback Ryan Lindley. As a sophomore, he caught 51 passes for 780 yards (15.3 avg) and 7 touchdowns, but those numbers fell to 42 catches for 543 yards (12.9 avg) and 6 touchdowns this past year. That was still good enough to lead his team for the long tight end that measured in at 6-6, 254 pounds at the Combine. McFadden is a ballhawk that collected 8 interceptions and 47 pass breakups over his career. He was compared favorably to Brent Grimes by NFL.com’s draft profile.
Jamar Taylor impressed at the Combine when he clocked a 4.39 40 time coupled with 22 bench reps, indicating both speed and strength for the 5-11, 192-pound corner. He had his most productive year this past seasons with 51 tackles, 3.5 for loss, 4 interceptions, and 13 pass breakups.
NFL.com’s Mike Mayock lists Schwenke as his top-rated center in this year’s class, as the three-year starter is coming off his first season at the position. The two previous years, the 6-3, 314-pound player played both guard spots giving him added versatility. He lifted 225 pounds 31 times at the Combine and clocked a 4.99 second 40 time, indicating he possesses good strength and athleticism.