Falcons Talk To Prospects At Senior Bowl

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Falcons Talk To Prospects At Senior Bowl

Postby Pudge » Sun Jan 31, 2016 12:14 am

http://falcfans.com/falcons-talk-to-pro ... bowl-22585

Falcons Talk To Prospects At Senior Bowl

TOPICS:DraftInterestSenior Bowl
Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports
Ohio State WR Braxton Miller works at the Senior Bowl.
POSTED BY: AARON FREEMAN JANUARY 30, 2016
The Reese’s Senior Bowl will be played this afternoon in Mobile, Alabama, featuring many of the top senior prospects of the 2016 NFL Draft. Earlier this week, the Atlanta Falcons sent coaches, front office personnel and other representatives to observe the week of practices between the North and South all-star teams. During that time, various reports from around the web indicated that they talked with several players.

The Falcons have typically used the Senior Bowl as a proving ground for acquiring talent, drafting a participant in every draft dating back to 2008 with the exception of 2011. Last year’s draft class featured two Senior Bowl participants in wide receiver Justin Hardy and defensive tackle Grady Jarrett. The Falcons also signed defensive tackle Joey Mbu and cornerback Kevin White as undrafted free agents.

This year the Falcons were seen or reported to have talked to Ohio State wide receiver Braxton Miller, who indicated to ESPN that he would relish an opportunity to play alongside Julio Jones in Atlanta.

The Falcons were also seen talking to linebackers Deion Jones (LSU) and Josh Perry (Ohio State) and defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis (Temple) according to Walter Football. That site also reports that the Falcons meet with Texas Tech running back DeAndre Washington.

The AJC reports that the Falcons also met with Middle Tennessee State safety Kevin Byard. San Jose State running back Tyler Ervin’s representatives reported that the Falcons were among multiple teams that he met with during the week as well.

Falcons head coach Dan Quinn was also quoted discussing players such as Georgia wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell and defensive end Jordan Jenkins. Quinn also weighed in on Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland during the week.

Miller is formerly the quarterback at Ohio State, finishing fifth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy after his first year as a full-time starter as a sophomore back in 2012. That year, he finished with 2,039 yards passing and 1,271 yards on the ground with 28 combined touchdowns (15 passing, 13 rushing). He improved on those totals as a junior, throwing for 2,094 yards and rushing for another 1,068 with 36 total touchdowns (24 passing, 12 rushing). But he was forced to sit out his senior year in 2014 with a shoulder injury. During his absence, his backups J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones helped lead Ohio State to a National Championship, prompting Miller to put aside his ego and move to wide receiver this past year. He finished fourth on the team with 25 catches for 340 yards and three touchdowns.As a quarterback, Miller compiled a 26-8 record as a starter over the course of three seasons, including going 22-2 in his final two seasons. He impressed throughout the week of Senior Bowl practices, showing that he was a quick study at wide receiver and able to take advantage of his superior athleticism in one-on-one matchups against defending cornerbacks in practice.

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
LSU LB Deion Jones
Jones was a Butkus Award finalist this past year, given to the nation’s top linebacker. He proved he was deserving on the field, leading LSU’s defense with 100 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, five sacks and two interceptions. His emergence came after spending three years as a reserve, collecting 65 tackles, 7.5 for loss and two fumble recoveries in 39 combined games. Jones turned heads when he weighed only 219 pounds at the Senior Bowl weigh-in, considerably smaller than his listed weight of 227 and lighter than most NFL linebackers. However like Miller, Jones was considered one of the players that helped his stock the most during Senior Bowl week despite any concerns over his weight.

Perry is Miller’s former teammate, who was a three-year starter at Ohio State both at strong-side and weak-side linebacker. He spent the past two years on the weak side, earning All-Conference honors in both seasons. Perry also collected 229 tackles, 16 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and six pass breakups in that span. He was named a finalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy this past year, awarded to college football’s player who displays exemplary character alongside performance.

Ioannidis (pronounced eye-an-NYE-dis) was a three-year starter mostly at defensive tackle at Temple, tallying 10 sacks over that span. He was an all-conference honoree during his final two seasons, putting up a combined 86 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, seven sacks, two fumble recoveries and seven pass breakups. His disruptive abilities were on display early in Senior Bowl practice week.

Washington became Texas Tech’s first back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher this past year since former Falcons running back Byron Hanspard achieved the feat in 1996. Washington saved his best season for last, rushing for 1,492 yards on 233 carries (6.4 avg) with 14 touchdowns. He also added 41 receptions for 385 yards and two more scores. As a junior, he rushed for 1,103 yards on 188 carries (5.9 avg) with two rushing touchdowns, 30 receptions, 328 receiving yards and two receiving touchdowns. Washington was a three-time Academic All-Big 12 honoree and two-time All-Big 12 honoree.

Byard was a four-time All-Conference honoree, earning honors both in the Sun Belt (2012) and Conference-USA (2013-2015). Over his career, he started 46 games, collecting 19 interceptions and returning four for scores.Byard also returned one lone punt as a junior, taking it 76 yards for another score. He also broke up 21 more passes over his career, five forced fumbles and tallied 318 tackles over his career. Byard is a native of Lithonia, Georgia, located just outside Atlanta.

Ervin was a highly explosive and versatile weapon at college, setting San Jose State career marks in ll-purpose yards (6,146), kick return yards (2,374) and special teams touchdowns (5). His 2,637 all-purpose yards as a senior finished second behind only Heisman Trophy finalist Christian McCaffrey. Ervin set career highs with 294 carries for 1,601 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns along with 45 receptions for 334 yards. He scored a trio of touchdowns on kickoff returns during his first two years at San Jose State, and also returned one punt for a score in each of the past tow years. Ervin played running back, slot receiver, cornerback and special teams during his time at San Jose State, and also missed most of the 2013 season with an ankle injury. His receiving ability was on display throughout the week of Senior Bowl practices.

Mitchell was Georgia’s top playmaker at wide receiver this past year, leading the team with 58 catches for 865 yards (14.9 avg) and five touchdowns, in his first full season as a starter. Mitchell had been plagued by injuries throughout his early years at Georgia, missing time due to hamstring and ankle injuries during his first two seasons before suffering a torn ACL in the first game of the 2013 season. He came back in 2014, catching 31 passes for 248 yards and three touchdowns in nine games. During his first two years, Mitchell combined for 85 catches for 1,237 yards and eight touchdowns while starting 18 of 24 games. Mitchell impressed observers early in the week during the Senior Bowl, showcasing his natural skills as a receiver.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Alabama LB Reggie Ragland
His teammate in Jenkins was a three-year starter at “JACK” outside linebacker in Georgia’s 3-4 scheme, lining up both at linebacker and occasionally putting his hand in the dirt as a defensive end. That versatility was noted in practices this past week. He started a total of 42 games over the course of his Bulldog career, tallying 205 tackles, 40 tackles for loss, 19 sacks and 82 quarterback hurries in that span.

Ragland earned several accolades this past year at Alabama as the national champion’s top defensive leader, qualities he showed during Senior Bowl week. Ragland was a unanimous first team All-American, the SEC’s Defensive Player of the Year as well as a finalist for the Butkus, Bednarik and Nagurski Awards given to the top linebacker and defensive player in the nation. This past year, he started 15 games at middle linebacker, recording 102 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and seven pass breakups. His first year as a starter came as a junior, playing the weak side where he started 13 games and had 95 tackles, 10.5 for loss, 1.5 sacks, one interception and three pass breakups. Ragland is also a player that many mock drafts around the internet project to be the Falcons’ top selection in 2016.

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Re: Falcons Talk To Prospects At Senior Bowl

Postby Pudge » Sun Jan 31, 2016 12:23 am

http://espn.go.com/blog/atlanta-falcons ... ulio-jones

Ohio State WR Braxton Miller: I would love to help Julio Jones

Braxton Miller made the transition from QB to WR for Ohio State last fall, and showed his talent with this spin move against Virginia Tech. His two long third-quarter TDs turned the game for the Buckeyes in their season-opening win. Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports
Jan 27, 2016
Vaughn McClure
ESPN Staff Writer
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MOBILE, Ala. -- One of the intriguing prospects at this year's Senior Bowl is Ohio State's Braxton Miller, a former big-play quarterback who made the transition to wide receiver in college.

Miller impressed on the first day of practices and got attention from plenty of teams, including an informal conversation with the Atlanta Falcons. Miller's tone perked up when asked about the possibility of joining Pro Bowler Julio Jones in Atlanta.

"I would love to come help out Julio in Atlanta," Miller told ESPN.com. "I would love to wear the red and black."

The Falcons need a receiver capable of establishing separation to complement Jones, and Miller is projected to be a second or third-round selection. Sure, he's still raw in terms of making the full transition to wide receiver. But as ESPN Insider and former NFL player Matt Bowen noted Tuesday, the 6-foot, 204-pound Miller has "ridiculous change of direction speed. So athletic. Better route runner than I expected."

Miller would be the first to say his route running needs to be polished. That's why he studied Jones coming out of Alabama and through Jones' years with the Falcons.

"Speed, size, and the way he runs his routes is off the charts," Miller said. "So, I want to be like that. ... The way he runs his routes is crazy. I love it. I'm going to have to hit him up, man, and talk to him about that."

Miller was a Heisman Trophy candidate as a spread-option quarterback. Then after suffering a shoulder injury in August of 2014 and falling to third on the quarterback depth chart, the two-time Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year (2012, 2013) made the move to wide receiver.

Miller had 26 catches for 341 yards and three touchdowns this past season. He was third on the team in receiving behind top draft prospect Michael Thomas and Jalin Marshall.

So when did Miller start to feel comfortable at receiver?

"Midseason," Miller said. "You know, just doing everything. Blocking. Being on special teams. Running deep routes, short routes, intermediate routes. Sweeps. All types of stuff. They opened up the playbook like that. It's fun, man."

Miller views himself more as an Antonio Brown-type but draws inspiration from other top wide receivers such as DeAndre Hopkins, Tavon Austin, and, of course, Jones.

"I love [to] see guys make plays," Miller said. "Some guys can't."

Miller appreciates the feedback he has received from the Dallas Cowboys coaches, who are coaching the North squad at the Senior Bowl.

"They love it," Miller said of his showing at receiver. "They said keep going because I'm a special guy, just keep showing your talents. You never know where you might end up in the draft. You just have to keep working, man."

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Re: Falcons Talk To Prospects At Senior Bowl

Postby Pudge » Sun Jan 31, 2016 12:23 am

http://espn.go.com/blog/atlanta-falcons ... e-receiver

Falcons' focus at Senior Bowl could be at linebacker, wide receiver
Jan 26, 2016
Vaughn McClure
ESPN Staff Writer
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MOBILE, Ala. -- Some of the coaches and scouts have arrived for this year's Senior Bowl as the Atlanta Falcons try to bolster their roster for next year.

Linebacker, defensive line, wide receiver, and the interior of the offensive line are the priorities for the Falcons coming off an 8-8 season. They own the 17th overall pick in the draft.

Here are five players the Falcons might want to keep an eye on going into the first day of Senior Bowl practices:

1) Reggie Ragland, linebacker, Alabama: He's a physical player who comes from a great program, of course. Although he looks to be a perfect middle linebacker, Ragland said he wants to show off his ability to rush the passer and drop into coverage. He could works himself into a top-10 pick.

2) Sheldon Rankins, defensive end, Louisville: The Covington, Georgia, native might not fit the primary need for the Falcons, but he's worth taking a long look at as a player capable of being a force on the line. Rankins could be a guy who is hard to pass up in the second round.

3) Deion Jones, linebacker, LSU: The Falcons need a linebacker who can run, and Jones fits the description. Scouts say the speed is the first thing you notice with him as an inside linebacker.

4) Braxton Miller, wide receiver, Ohio State: The former quarterback is definitely worth keeping an eye on. He can run, catch, and make plays despite being raw at receiver.

5) Josh Forrest, linebacker, Kentucky: This is more of a later-round guy to keep an eye on. The former wide receiver had 232 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks in his career. He has length, which is something Falcons coach Dan Quinn always talks about concerning players.

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Re: Falcons Talk To Prospects At Senior Bowl

Postby Pudge » Sun Jan 31, 2016 12:25 am

http://www.thefalcoholic.com/2016/1/30/ ... bowl-recap

2016 Senior Bowl Recap: Defensive lines dominate.
By Charles R. McDonald  @SundayFiasco on Jan 30, 2016, 4:05p 9 9


Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports
It was the Noah Spence Show.

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Defensive line is the strength of this year's draft class and the Senior Bowl continued to illustrate this. The North and South defensive fronts both stood, but Noah Spence on the South squad dominated from start to finish.

The Falcons are looking for pass rushers; if the stars align and Noah Spence is available at pick 17 (assuming his past doesn't scare them) they should sprint to the podium and pair him with Vic Beasley. Spence definitely has his issues, but he's just too talented of a player to fall far in the draft.


Virginia Tech pass rusher Dadi Nicholas had a strong showing as well. He had a dismal 2015 season and week of practice leading up to the game so it was nice to see him bounce back with a strong showing against the North offensive line.

Staying on the defensive line, Louisiana Tech defensive tackle Vernon Butler had a nice week of practice and finished strong with a positive showing in the actual game. He was immovable at the point of attack and showed some insane upper body strength tossing Missouri center Evan Boehm in the first quarter.

Linebackers

Moving on to the second level of the defense, LSU linebacker Deion Jones displayed sideline to sideline speed and good range in coverage. Jones only weighs 219 pounds, so it was imperative for him to show off at least above average athleticism this week; he was able to do that.

Reggie Ragland is a popular name among Falcons fans, but it doesn't appear like he's the best fit for Dan Quinn's scheme. With the defensive line carried a bulk of the run stopping duties, Atlanta doesn't need a heavy thumper like Ragland in the middle of the defense. They need speed that Ragland doesn't provide. This isn't to say that Ragland is a bad player, because he isn't, but a 259 pound two down linebacker doesn't do much to fix the issues on defense. If I had to choose one of Jones or Ragland to insert into the defense, I'd take Jones hands down.

Defensive Backs

There were two defensive backs that set themselves apart this week: LSU's Jalen Mills and Boise State's Darian Thompson. Darian Thompson has the range to play free safety over the top and the physicality to play in the box. Safety is a question mark for the Falcons moving forward in the offseason; Darian Thompson would give them a bonafide talent who can play either position.

Jalen Mills is a versatile player in his own right. Mills can line up at both cornerback and safety and looked proficient in the game. He'd be a free safety in this system.

Receivers & Quarterbacks

The Falcons need a receiving threat across from Julio Jones. Braxton Miller had a chance to really stand out and separate himself in the game after a strong week of practice, but he didn't quite do that. Miller looks more athlete than refined receiver right now, and that's fine. He's only been playing the position for a year so expecting him to light it up in a game session with heightened level of competition might've been a bit too bold.

Leonte Carroo stood out in practice, but didn't play in the game due to injury. None of the other receivers really stood out or fit in Kyle Shanahan's offense.

There are a few developmental quarterback prospects that the Falcons should take a look at as well. Mississippi State's Dak Prescott and North Carolina State's Jacoby Brissett both performed well in the game. They were in tune and on time with their offense, which is difficult to do on such a short amount of practice time. If either of them are available in the seventh round or go undrafted, Atlanta should snatch one of them up.

Whitehair for Guard

The offensive lineman that stood that makes sense in Atlanta is Kansas State tackle/guard Cody Whitehair. Whitehair would definitely be a guard in Shanahan's zone blocking scheme. He had a productive week and showed impressive chemistry on double teams and second level blocks.

The Senior Bowl is in the books and it was a great chance to get a firsthand look at some of the upcoming draft eligible prospects. Hopefully some of the players mentioned above (Noah Spence) are suiting up in the red and black next season.

Leave suggestions for potential draft content in the comment sections!


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