To read the methodology I devised to rank the Falcons players, click here.
Total Score: 50/100
Last year’s rank: 25
Player Grade: 49/100
Teams he is starter: 9 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 0 out of 32
Teams he is role player: 27 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +4
Positional Bonus: +3
Holmes was thrust into the fire in 2013 following the injury to Mike Johnson. And his play early on at right tackle showed that he was not ready for the responsibility. Through his first two starts, he allowed only one sack but also gave up five pressures and seven hurries (per Moneyball reviews). But Holmes did improve once he made the switch to left tackle following the early-season injury to Sam Baker. Over his next seven games at left tackle, he gave up no sacks, four pressures and 10 hurries.
Had Holmes been able to maintain that level of play, there would have been little issue with him retaining a starting position. But Holmes did not finish 2013 well, giving up seven sacks, four pressures and 10.5 hurries in the final six games at left tackle.
There certainly was the possibility this offseason that the Falcons would give Holmes a chance to redeem himself with another year starting at right tackle. With the addition of offensive line coach Mike Tice and an assumption that Holmes could revert to 2013 mid-season form, there was a reasonable hope that Holmes could have been more than competent as a starter this year.
With the selection of Jake Matthews in the first round this past May, any chance that Holmes would remain in the starting lineup evaporated. Holmes will instead be expected to compete for the swing tackle spot this summer and thus will get at least another year to develop before he’s asked to start again.
That time should be beneficial to Holmes, whose biggest issue last season was inconsistent technique and hand use. Holmes has the size and athleticism to be an effective starter, but needs to be more consistent with his technique and leverage.
But given the injury history of Baker, there’s also a decent chance that Holmes will log significant reps in 2014 should Baker miss time. But with Matthews on the roster, Holmes’ best chance at sticking long-term will stay at right tackle. Baker’s contract could become prohibitive down the road, prompting the Falcons to move Matthews to left tackle. Then, there will be a void at right tackle that will need to be filled.
How Holmes develops this year and performs if given the opportunity will determine if the Falcons still pencil him in to fill that void. He’s not quite there yet, but the potential is there and it just may need another year or two for it to developed. And now in light of the Falcons’ moves made this offseason, Holmes should get that much-needed time to refine his game and live up to his third-round billing.