I’m counting down the top 40 players on the Atlanta Falcons, and let’s continue with 32nd-ranked player: offensive lineman Gabe Carimi.
To read the methodology I devised to rank the Falcons players, click here.
Total Score: 45/100
Last year’s rank: N/A
Player Grade: 47/100
Teams he is starter: 8 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 0 out of 32
Teams he is role player: 23 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +3
Positional Bonus: +3
Carimi was essentially signed to replace Garrett Reynolds after the latter’s release this offseason. With the hiring of new offensive line coach Mike Tice, who Carimi played under for two seasons with the Chicago Bears, the Falcons are hoping that Carimi can finally live up to the potential he once showed at Wisconsin.
Michael Holley’s book The War Room indicates that the Falcons were poised to select Carimi with their top selection in the 2011 draft had they not made the blockbuster deal to move up for wide receiver Julio Jones.
As a rookie, Carimi immediately was plugged into the Bears’ starting lineup at right tackle but a knee injury ended his rookie season prematurely. His return to the field in 2012 was met with disappointment as he was benched after 11 starts due mainly to poor pass blocking. Injuries would occur as the Bears season wore on and Carimi returned to the lineup once more as a right guard, where he showed a bit more promise.
But with the turnover that occurred with the Bears coaching staff the following year, Carimi was shipped via trade to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Thanks to an injury to starting left guard Carl Nicks to start the season, Carimi got another opportunity to showcase his abilities but failed to take advantage. Even with injuries debilitating Nicks for the rest of the season, Carimi hardly saw any reps outside of garbage time.
So Carimi comes to Atlanta as somewhat a reclamation project, and it may be his last opportunity in the NFL.
While he may see some reps at tackle this summer for the Falcons, the bulk of his playing time will likely be inside at guard. There his size can be advantageous and his questionable pass-protecting abilities can be masked somewhat. But the key for Carimi will be showcasing run blocking potential inside, something he has not consistently done over his career.
Helping Carimi’s cause is that there are currently no fixtures at guard behind starters Justin Blalock and Jon Asamoah, meaning the competition is wide open for what may amount to a single roster spot. Carimi may also count Tice in his corner should also help his cause. Clearly, the Falcons pre-2011 draft interest and the fact that Tice potentially convinced the team to sign him shortly after his hiring suggests that there are at least a few people in the Falcons building that like Carimi’s potential.
While the chances he ever becomes a starter in Atlanta are low given the presences of Blalock and Asamoah ahead of him, Carimi could be counted on to be a valuable reserve. His ability to play either tackle or guard spot gives him versatility as a utility backup. If he can showcase that ability this summer, then Carimi’s circuitous route to the Falcons could pay dividends for the rest of his career.