The Atlanta Falcons sent representatives to various college campuses this past week to witness several pro days. Three prominent pro days occurred this week for major talent-laden programs including Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, respectively. They also were confirmed to have attended six other pro days during the week including that at Kansas State, Northwestern, West Georgia, Washington State, Mississippi State and Oregon.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter, Falcons linebacker coach Jeff Ulbrich was on hand to look at Alabama’s prospects, likely to take a closer first-hand look at linebacker Reggie Ragland. Ragland has been a popular target for the Falcons in the first round in various mock drafts so far this offseason. Ragland recorded a 7.55-second three-cone time and various reports describe him as looking “fluid” in positional drills, but others saying he looked “sluggish.”
Fellow Crimson Tide linebacker Dillon Lee measured 6’3⅝” and 240 pounds, running a 40-yard dash in 4.77 seconds. He had short shuttle and three-cone times of 4.34 and 7.11 seconds, respectively.
There were several Combine invitees that sat on their times and measurements from last month to just do positional drills and workouts including running back Derrick Henry, center Ryan Kelly, defensive tackles Jarran Reed and A’Shawn Robinson and cornerback Cyrus Jones
On Thursday, Ledbetter saw area scout Anthony Robinson at Clemson’s pro day. Per Ledbetter, defensive end Shaq Lawson has a close relationship with Falcons defensive line coach Bryan Cox and has scheduled an upcoming private workout with the Falcons. However ESPN’s Vaughn McClure indicated that Lawson and his teammate Kevin Dodd haven’t spoken much with the Falcons yet. Lawson sat on his impressive Combine workout and just conducted positional drills. Per Walter Football’s Tony Pauline, he struggled when attempting linebacker drills.
Pauline wrote that Dodd “looked terrific” in both defensive line and linebacker drills. After suffering a hamstring injury at the Combine while running a 40, Dodd opted to sit on his time of 4.86 seconds. He added a 30½-inch vertical jump, 110-inch broad jump, 4.44-second short shuttle and 7.31-second three-cone drill. He also bench pressed 225 pounds 22 times.
Cornerback Mackensie Alexander ran a 40 between 4.44 and 4.50 seconds and also had a 37½-inch vertical jump. Per Pauline, he dined with New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton and general manager Jeff Ireland the night before the pro day and thus might be a player that the Falcons will see regularly in the future.
Reportedly safety Jayron Kearse did not impress onlookers during his positional work and some question if he might be better served bulking up and moving to linebacker according to Pauline.
The biggest pro day of the week however had to be hands down the one at Ohio State on Friday. There, over 130 NFL representatives including six head coaches, four general managers and one team president were on hand to watch 22 prospects work out.
With several top picks including wide receiver Michael Thomas and linebacker Darron Lee, who have both been mocked to the Falcons multiple times this offseason, it was noteworthy that the Falcons were reported to speak to tight end Nick Vannett by Pauline. The Falcons met with Vannett on Thursday night before the prospect was able to run a 40-yard dash time in around 4.75 seconds. A scout that Pauline spoke with following the pro day had the following to say about the Ohio State tight end:
“He’s going to be under-drafted. Should be a top-75 pick but may last until the fourth round. Does everything very well, but not the glamour-boy field-stretcher everyone wants today. “
Vannett might be under-drafted because of the fact that he was not often utilized in Ohio State’s spread offense. His production dipped his final year when he caught 19 passes for 162 yards and zero touchdowns after a junior season that saw him snag 19 catches for 220 yards and five scores. Vannett measured in at 6’6″ and 257 pounds at the Combine with large 10-inch hands.
As for Thomas, he was said to have run as fast as 4.3 according to some stopwatches at the pro day. Lee also reportedly “cemented himself” as a top 15 pick in the draft according to one observer. The Falcons currently hold the 17th overall selection in the draft.
Wide receiver Braxton Miller reportedly blazed in the 40, clocking times as fast as 4.36 on some stopwatches. The Falcons met with the former quarterback during his week practicing at the Senior Bowl in January. He is trying to make the conversion from under center to the outside after playing a single season in the latter role where he caught 25 passes for 340 yards and three touchdowns. Miller recorded a Combine three-cone time of 6.65 seconds. Every wide receiver that the Falcons have drafted since GM Thomas Dimitroff took over the team in 2008 has recorded a three-cone time of at least 6.66 seconds, certainly putting him in rare company.
Ohio State’s top prospect however is defensive end Joey Bosa, who figures to be one of the first players off the board when the draft kicks off on April 28. Bosa looked to improve an already solid Combine performance, adding four reps to improve his bench press to 28 reps and running a sub-4.8-second 40 according to stop watches. In Indianapolis, Bosa ran a 40 in 4.86 seconds. He also reportedly looked “significantly better” in both defensive line and linebacker positional drills according to Pauline’s sources.
Despite those three schools drawing the most professional eyeballs, the Falcons were spotted at several more pro days throughout the week.
The Falcons began their week at Kansas State, where they were spotted on Tuesday. The top player there was offensive lineman Cody Whitehair, who was a Combine invitee that went through positional drills at both center and guard despite playing mostly at left tackle during his collegiate career. He could be a potential target for the Falcons in the first or second round due to his athleticism.
Return specialist Morgan Burns clocked a 40-yard dash as fast as 4.38 seconds according to NFL.com. He also recorded a 32-inch vertical jump, 110-inch broad jump and a three-cone time of 6.6 seconds. The 200-pound defensive back also bench pressed 225 pounds 21 times. This past season, Burns led the nation with four kickoff-return touchdowns and ranked second with 1,138 kickoff-return yards while averaging 33.5 yards per return.
Every NFL team was on hand Tuesday for Northwestern’s pro day, which also featured 37 other draft prospects from local small schools. Wide receiver Miles Shuler was one notable workout according to NFL.com. The diminutive receiver measured in at 5’9½” and 173 pounds, but showed speed with a 40-yard dash of 4.4 seconds. His 33½-inch vertical, 126-inch broad jump and 6.78-second three-cone were also impressive.
Also on Tuesday, the Falcons were one of five teams that showed up at West Georgia’s pro day. The most prominent prospect at the workout was offensive tackle Dominique Robertson (6’4¾” and 320 pounds). He measured 36-inch arms and looked good in drills according to NFL.com.
On Thursday the Falcons were named among the attendees at Washington State’s pro day. There offensive tackle Joe Dahl stood on his Combine numbers. Dahl’s size (6’4¾” and 302 pounds) makes him a potential candidate to move inside to guard and he showcased added versatility by also working out at center on Thursday.
Notably wide receiver Dominique Williams (6’2⅝” and 198 pounds) ran a blazing fast 40 of 4.39 seconds according to NFL.com. His 40½-inch vertical and 125-inch broad jump were also very impressive. He had a short shuttle of 4.21 seconds and a three-cone of 7.02 seconds as well.
Linebacker Kache Palacio (6’1⅛” and 237 pounds) ran a 4.78-second 40, jumped 119 inches in the broad jump and 34 inches in the vertical. He also benched 225 pounds 21 times. He showcased his versatility by also during fullback drills at the pro day in case teams don’t think the 33 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and six sacks he recorded as a senior were impressive enough to merit a look on defense at the next level.
Thursday saw Mississippi State conduct a pro day in front of 30 teams with the Falcons among them according to NFL.com. Notably wide receiver De’Runnya Wilson looked to improve an underwhelming Combine performance. He did manage to run a faster 40 in 4.78 seconds, but failed to improve upon his vertical jump (28 inches) and broad jump (112 inches), disappointing for a former high-school basketball star. However Wilson did also record times of 7.16 seconds in the three-cone and did 13 bench reps.
Cornerback Will Redmond and defensive end Ryan Brown were not able to participate in the pro day workouts due to lingering ACL and foot injuries, respectively. Both players have scheduled to work out in front of teams on April 18. The 278-pound Brown did however participated in the bench press, lifting 23 times.
Also worth noting is that discus thrower Tautvydas Kieras participated in the pro day work. The Lithuanian native aspires to be a defensive end in the same mold as Estonian-born Margus Hunt, who was selected in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. Hunt also was a discus thrower and standout defensive end at Southern Methodist. Kieras has the size, measuring in at 6’3½” and 271 pounds but has no experience playing football. His athleticism was impressive, recording a 4.72-second 40-yard dash, 7.19-second three-cone drill and 4.52-second short shuttle. He also leapt 35 inches in the vertical jump and 116 inches in the broad. He also benched 225 pounds 24 times. Perhaps a team will take a hard look at him in a training camp due to his impressive athleticism.
On Thursday, Falcons area scout Sae Woon Jo was spotted at Oregon’s pro day. There the Falcons got another chance to look at defensive tackle Alex Balducci, who they spoke with during the week of practices for the East-West Shrine Game. According to The Oregonian, Balducci measured a 33-inch vertical leap, 95-inch broad jump and 25 reps on the bench press.
The top prospect at Oregon was his linemate DeForest Buckner, who is projected to go early in the first round. He did not participate in the bench press at the Combine and was able to put up 21 reps at the pro day.
Wide receiver Bralon Addision did not time well in the 40-yard dash with times of 4.72 seconds according to NFL.com, which was slower than his official Combine time of 4.66 seconds. However he fared better in the three-cone with a time of 6.85 seconds, improving by one-tenth of a second. It indicates that the Ducks’ leading receiver is quicker than faster. He caught 63 passes for 804 yards and 10 touchdowns this past season. He also served as an effective punt returner during his collegiate career, scoring three times over his career while averaging 12.2 yards per return.
According to Pauline however it was linebacker Joe Walker that “wowed” at the pro day. NFL.com reported that Walker measured in at 6’2⅜” and 236 pounds, running a 40 in 4.56 seconds. He also posted a 37½-inch vertical, 124-inch broad jump, 4.31-second short shuttle and 6.81-second three-cone time. Walker benched 225 pounds 23 times and potentially solidified himself as a late-round target after not being highly touted going into the fall.
Other Pro Days
Those weren’t the only pro days that occurred last week, however it was unconfirmed which of the others the Falcons attended. Monday saw Minnesota draft prospect work out on campus, with 30 NFL teams showing up according to NFL.com. 25 NFL teams showed at Wisconsin’s pro day on Wednesday and NFL.com provides the results.
One pro day where the Falcons were not in attendance was at Rutgers on the same day.