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Takeaways from Last Week – February 17, 2014

February 17th, 2014 Comments off

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Fisher’s strong Combine workout benefited him greatly in 2013

This week, the NFL Scouting Combine kicks off in Indianapolis. Next to draft weekend and the first week of free agency, this week represents one of the more pivotal points of the NFL’s offseason.

It’s the first time that all 32 NFL teams are going to be in one place. Sure, all NFL teams sent representatives to Mobile, Alabama for the Senior Bowl in January, but that is primarily for scouts. Not to mention, two teams were busy with their Super Bowl preparations, limiting their ability to have a large presence in Mobile. That is not the case for Indianapolis, where the Combine signals that the beginning of free agency is right around the corner (March 11).

This is where teams can really start to talk shop about potential moves that are forthcoming in the offseason. While trades won’t become official until March 11, teams can start to sniff around about possible moves at the Combine. I’m sure that with the trades that sent Alex Smith to Kansas City last March and the rights to Robert Griffin III to Washington the year before, talks began in earnest or picked up steam during the week of the Combine.

Agents are also putting out feelers for their respective clients that are on the verge of hitting free agency. It’s that sort of furtive tampering that resulted in the NFL adopting the three-day window before the start of the league year that allows teams to openly negotiate with prospective free agents.

It’s also during this period that NFL teams can begin to designate certain free agents as franchise or transition players. That also means that negotiations for players and teams that want to avoid using the franchise or transition tag really pick up in earnest during the week of the Combine.

All in all, it’s a big week for NFL teams with a lot of things that go on behind closed doors that fans like you and me aren’t privy to and can only guess at. But that doesn’t mean that the Combine doesn’t have value to the everyday fan like ourselves.

Read more…

Takeaways before the Combine

February 18th, 2013 Comments off
Photo by Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Players like Rams WR Brandon Gibson don’t fare well at Combine

If you haven’t heard, the league is adding a new aptitude test that will supplement the Wonderlic, rather than replace it at this week’s Scouting Combine that begins Wednesday in Indianapolis. You can go here to get a bit more details, but I found it interesting that Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff may have played a key role in getting this adopted according to a report.

I’ve never taken the Wonderlic, but I have taken the samples that you can find around the internet at times. And from my perspective, the Wonderlic is your standard run of the mill IQ test. For years people have criticized the Wonderlic largely because it doesn’t reflect football-centric intelligence. From the description of this new unnamed test, it does seem like it will have a bit more applications towards football. I’m not sure it’ll ask football-specific questions, but it’ll probably not feature a lot of the rote math or language questions that presumably the Wonderlic asked. It’ll be interesting to see what comes of it in the future. It probably is not going to replace the Wonderlic since apparently the Combine is unwilling to eliminate tests.

I know few put little stock in the Wonderlic, but I do think it is noteworthy when a player scores low, particularly quarterbacks. Generally, the consensus on the minimum a quarterback should score is at least 20. In one sense because it’s a timed test, it does sort of give you a ballpark answer on how quickly a guy can process information. But a very high score doesn’t necessarily indicate that a guy is processing information quickly. Or at least, it may not be the same sort of information that applies to reading a defense. I’m no quarterback, but I imagine that is more intuitive than academic, the latter of which seems to be what the Wonderlic is measuring.

I also think that the Wonderlic stands out in terms of its usage when you find a player that scores in the single digits. It by no means is a strong indicator that someone will be a bad pro (Roddy White scored a 4). But I know if I was a GM I would generally avoid players that scored in the single digits unless I was really impressed with their ability and upside. For example, Patrick Peterson and Chris Culliver both reportedly scored 9 on their Wonderlic tests in 2011. Peterson is of a caliber that I would “roll the dice” on him, while Culliver I might be lukewarm to take. I wouldn’t consider that the right way, just a matter of personal preference that I don’t want a locker room full of dummies. So I think in that sense, the Wonderlic can still retain some value even if this new test completely overshadows it.

I think it’s also nice that there will be a new wrinkle to the Combine this year. I think the Combine has lost some of its luster due to the sheer amount of preparation that goes into it for players. Prospects spend 4 to 6 weeks leading up to it, prepping for all the drills and tests. I think it inflates some of the numbers.

And I know GMs, coaches, scouts, and draft experts constantly talk about how it doesn’t affect things, that is straight B.S. They constantly talk about how tape from the season is what really matters, the proof is in the pudding. And the simple fact is that guys’ draft stock is largely determined by their performances at All-Star games like the Senior Bowl and East-West Shrine Game, as well as the Combine and pro days.

For example, you have a player like Texas wideout Marquise Goodwin. I saw a pair earlier games from Goodwin this year (versus Oklahoma State and West Virginia), and my assessment of him was that he was a borderline seventh round pick due to his special teams potential. He was targeted 10 times combined in those games and caught all 10 passes thrown his way for 52 yards. Factor in the 28 yards after the catch he had, you realize that those 10 targets traveled a combined 24 yards in the air. Essentially all 10 of his passes came on screens, quick outs, or comebacks, the types of routes that don’t require a ton of skill to execute. He may have only had 1 or 2 targets that required him to run a route more than 5 yards downfield in that pair of games. What I saw from him in those games was good straight-line speed that made me believe he had good upside on special teams. But his short stature (5-9/180) probably would limit how effective he would be as a vertical threat at the next level. But what also hurt him in my eyes was that he wasn’t that productive after the catch. Had he gone for 78 yards instead of 28 yards after the catch, then I’d be more willing to buy his dynamic potential. For me, Goodwin was a speedy slot type that may not be a reliable everydown option.

But Goodwin went to Mobile and killed at the Senior Bowl. And now he’s a potential Top 15 receiver prospect that is projected to go on the second day of the draft.

Read more…

Categories: Features Tags: , , , ,

Falcons Combine Risers

February 22nd, 2012 Comments off
ICON SMI

TE Orson Charles

I’m listing some players that I think depending on their Combine performances over the next few days will start to pick up more steam as potentially draft picks for the Falcons, as well as guys that could be in a position to rise up other teams’ draft boards in general.

RB Robert Turbin, Utah State
Like many underclassman, Turbin has generally gone under the radar so far. It is generally the Combine where some of these lesser known players can rise. While it doesn’t seem like the running back position is going to be a high priority for the Falcons this April, it would behoove them to start thinking about the future of this position. Turbin is an excellent physical specimen, with a short, squat, but think build similar to Michael Turner. He probably is not going to have a blazing 40 time, but if he can run in the low 4.5s, he’s a player that can start to solidify his status as a potential Top 50 pick.

WR Stephen Hill, Georgia Tech
The local product is trying to follow in the steps of Demaryius Thomas as one of the premier second tier wide receiver prospects. Hill has excellent size and athleticism at 6’4″, and like Thomas he’s more a long strider. That can bode very well when it comes to the 40-yard dash. Again, the Falcons probably won’t be looking to make a major move at the wide receiver position given they just drafted Julio Jones, but Hill has the potential to solidify his status as a second round pick with a strong workout.

TE Orson Charles, Georgia
Because Charles is a junior, he’s not going as much love. But Charles can do something similar to Ben Watson did several years ago, which is if he has a strong workout, he can start to rise up boards. Watson ultimately wound up being a late first round pick. Who the top tight end off the board is ripe for the taking, and strong combines helped Watson and Dustin Keller a few years later improve their draft stock greatly. While a strong Combine could probably mean Charles will be drafted before the Falcons are on the clock, his moving up the board could have several implications on which tight end might be in the Falcons range.

TE DeAngelo Peterson, LSU
Peterson is another good athletic SEC tight end, that was a bit underused in LSU’s offense this past year. If he has a good Combine workout, much of that lack of production can be forgiven in scout’s eyes. And while he’s more of a middle round pick at this point, he could start to rise and be in the mix in the second round range, where many suspect the Falcons could target a tight end.

TE Ladarius Green, UL-Lafayette
Green is another tight end that could start to see his stock rise with a good Combine. And coupled with these other players near the top of the class, could turn what was previously conceived as a mediocre draft class at this position into a strong one. Green is the physical specimen of the group, standing 6’6″ and playing more like an oversized receiver. If he can couple that size and athleticism with a good 40 time, he might be in the conversation as well for the Falcons top pick.

OT Bobby Massie, Ole Miss
Massie followed Michael Oher at Ole Miss and despite not receiving the same acclaim, is probably as good an athlete as his predecessor. Massie spent his entire career at right tackle, but certainly possesses the sort of athleticism that teams look for and want in their left tackles. A strong Combine workout that displays that athleticism could solidify him as one of the Top 5 tackles in this draft class.

ICON SMI

DE Chandler Jones

OT Matt McCants, UAB
McCants played at the Senior Bowl, and did not use that opportunity to really solidify his draft stock going up against some of the top pass rushers on the South team. But he’ll get another chance at the Combine. As mentioned previously, teams fall in love with athletic tackles, and McCants has that potential with his size (6’6″) and long arms, he every bit looks the part of a top NFL left tackle. He’ll need a strong Combine, and he might start to move up to the late second round as a potential target for the Falcons.

DE Chandler Jones, Syracuse
There’s no doubt the Falcons need to upgrade their pass rush, and Jones is another underclassman that has gone a bit under the radar. While he’s already being projected to go in the second round range, a strong Combine workout where his size and athleticism will be on display could really cause his stock to rise, and he may be the favored target of Falcons draftniks when projecting which pass rusher hopefully is there for the team in Round Two.

OLB Terrell Manning, N.C. State
Another position that the Falcons aren’t really in the market for, but Manning definitely has a chance to improve his stock greatly. As an underclassman that surprisingly came out, he’s gone under the radar. But Manning has the sort of speed and athleticism that reminds you a lot of a younger version of Sean Weatherspoon before he polished his game completely during his final years at Missouri. If Manning can clock a strong 40 time, his stock should jump high.

OLB Jonathan Massaquoi, Troy
He might be a bit more on the Falcons radar because he’s a pass rusher that played end in college. But he’s being projected as a 3-4 linebacker because of his lack of ideal size. But if Massaquoi comes to Indianapolis and tips the scales around 260 and still is able to showcase his athleticism and speed, he might start to gain more traction as a defensive end. Troy has produced a number of good pass rushers over the years (e.g. Osi Umenyiora, Demarcus Ware), and Massaquoi intends to be the next in line.

ILB Mychael Kendricks, California
Drafting an inside linebacker is hopefully not in the cards for the Falcons given this team’s potential to re-sign Curtis Lofton. But if that were not to occur and the Falcons were looking for an eventual replacement, Kendricks might be a guy that comes on their radar. He’s not the biggest guy out there, being listed at around 5’11″ 240, but he’s got excellent straight-line speed and was an adept pass rusher in Cal’s 3-4 scheme. If he clocks a fast 40, he should see his stock rise.

Categories: Draft Central Tags: , ,

Falcons met with RB Williams at Combine

March 4th, 2011 Comments off

Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post reports that the Falcons were among 17 teams that met with Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams during last week’s Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

Williams didn’t showcase his trademark speed while in Indianapolis, clocking a 4.59 40 time, which partially had to do with his adding 10 pounds of muscle to bulk up to 212 pounds. Williams had a breakout freshman campaign in 2009 rushing for over 1600 yards with the Hokies. He struggled with injuries this past year, and only had 477 yards.

The Falcons are expected to try and add a running back in this year’s draft, in the hopes of becoming more explosive offensively. Williams is projected by most to be a potential second round pick.

You can click here to read a scouting report on Williams.

Categories: Draft Central Tags: ,

Falcons Combine Interest

March 2nd, 2010 Comments off

Tracking which prospects that the Falcons have reportedly shown interest in during the week-long Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, beginning on February 24.

S Barry Church, Toledo
C Eric Cook, New Mexico
LB A.J. Edds, Iowa
LB Thaddeus Gibson, Ohio State
CB Joe Haden, Florida
CB Devin McCourty, Rutgers
TE Anthony McCoy, Southern California
P Zoltan Mesko, Michigan
LB Eric Norwood, South Carolina
C Maurkice Pouncey, Florida
CB Amari Spievey, Iowa
LB Sean Weatherspoon, Missouri
WR Ryan Wolfe, UNLV

Falcons passing on pass rusher in first?

March 2nd, 2010 Comments off
Peria Jerry

Peria Jerry

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution did a good job covering the Falcons over the weekend at the Combine, providing us with some good quotes from both coach Mike Smith and GM Thomas Dimitroff.

But it is interesting that beat writer D. Orlando Ledbetter published on Monday that among the five things we learned from the Combine, one of them was that the team would not be selecting a pass rusher in the first round.

I think it certainly is possible that the Falcons could pass on a pass rusher with their top pick. But I doubt it has much to do with the fact that the team believes that Peria Jerry’s return the lineup suddenly fixes their defensive end position, which is what the quote from Thomas Dimitroff given to Ledbetter seems to imply.

Now, since I was not in Indianapolis to hear the exact context and content of his conversation with Dimitroff, I can’t be sure. But judging from the statement released in the paper, Dimitroff’s quote doesn’t seem to rule out the team drafting a defensive end. Here is the exact quote released: Read more…

Categories: Draft Central Tags: ,

Falcons show interest in TEs at Combine

February 20th, 2009 Comments off

D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC reports that the Falcons have conducted interviews already at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis with two top tight end prospects and an offensive lineman. The two tight ends are Oklahoma State’s Brandon Pettigrew and South Carolina’s Jared Cook. The offensive lineman is Georgia Tech tackle Andrew Gardner.

The Falcons have been looking to upgrade their tight end position for some time, even making an attempt to acquire Kansas City Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez back in October according to the Wisconsin State Journal. Combined last year, the team’s top two tight ends Justin Peelle and Ben Hartsock combined for 18 catches. Peelle is a free agent and both players are known primarily as blockers.
Pettigrew caught 42 passes last year at Oklahoma State. He is widely considered the top tight end in this year’s draft class and is billed as a first round pick, making him a possibility for the Falcons with their top selection (24th overall).
Cook is one of the better tight ends in the class as well and most indicate him as a potential second round target. He caught 37 passes this past year with the Gamecocks.
Scott Wright of DraftCountdown.com has Pettigrew and Cook billed as the No. 1 and No. 2 tight end prospects, respectively, in this year’s draft.
Gardner was a four-year starter at left tackle for the Yellow Jackets. He suffered a shoulder injury this past October, and missed the rest of the season. He is rated as the 19th best offensive tackle in the class by Scott Wright of DraftCountdown.com.
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Tracking the Falcons Draft Interest

April 16th, 2008 Comments off

Using various sources including but not limited to NFL.com, Scout.com, New Era Scouting, Football.com, KFFL.com, NFL Draft Countdown, and various local newspapers covering schools and individual prospects, we have compiled a list of prospects that the Falcons have worked out, interviewed, or reportedly shown mild interest in.

Private Workouts
Each NFL team is limited by the number of official visits it can have with draft prospects. Here is a list of players that according to various sources have been visited by the Falcons or have visited the Falcons for such. Dates if specified are included in parentheses:

QB John David Booty, USC
QB Brian Brohm, Louisville
QB Joe Flacco, Delaware (Mar. 28)
QB Chad Henne, Michigan
QB Josh Johnson, San Diego
QB Matt Ryan, Boston College
QB Andre Woodson, Kentucky
RB Jamar Brittingham, Bloomsburg
RB Jamaal Charles, Texas (Apr. 8-9)
RB Tashard Choice, Georgia Tech
RB Matt Forte, Tulane (Mar. 17)
RB Chris Johnson, East Carolina (Apr. 11)
RB Kalvin McRae, Ohio (Apr. 10)
RB Ray Rice, Rutgers
FB Mike Cox, Georgia Tech (Apr. 10)
WR Adrian Arrington, Michigan (Mar. 28)
WR Eddie Royal, Virginia Tech
WR Mario Urrutia, Louisville
TE Scott Kuhn, Louisville
TE Martin Rucker, Missouri (Mar. 28)
TE Craig Stevens, California
OT Nate Garner, Arkansas (Apr. 16-17)
OT Jake Long, Michigan (Mar. 27)
OT Jeff Otah, Pittsburgh (Apr. 16)
OT Jeremy Zuttah, Rutgers
DE Lawrence Jackson, USC
DE Kendall Langford, Hampton
DT Glenn Dorsey, LSU
LB Cliff Avril, Purdue
LB Dan Connor, Penn State
LB Curtis Lofton, Oklahoma
LB Brandon Miller, Georgia (Apr. 8)
CB Charles Godfrey, Iowa
CB Leodis McKelvin, Troy State (Apr. 10-12)
CB Aqib Talib, Kansas
CB Terrell Thomas, USC
CB Jack Williams, Kent State
S Tyrell Johnson, Arkansas State (Apr. 14)

Reportedly Interested in:
Some of these players were among many the Falcons spoke with at either the Senior Bowl or the Combine, or have been players that the Falcons have been on hand to see at their pro days. It’s quite possible that many of these players have also worked out privately for the Falcons, but that has yet to be confirmed. If so, they will be moved to the above list accordingly.

QB Erik Ainge, Tennessee
QB Colt Brennan, Hawaii
QB Dennis Dixon, Oregon
QB Paul Smith, Tulane
RB Thomas Brown, Georgia
RB Justin Forsett, California
RB Rafael Little, Kentucky
RB Darren McFadden, Arkansas
RB Dantrell Savage, Oklahoma State
RB Steve Slaton, West Virginia
RB Jonathan Stewart, Oregon
RB Chauncey Washington, USC
FB Owen Schmitt, West Virginia
WR Adarius Bowman, Oklahoma State
WR Harry Douglas, Louisville
WR James Hardy, Indiana
WR Andrew Hawkins, Toledo
WR Dexter Jackson, Appalachian State
WR Darius Reynaud, West Virginia
TE Gary Barnidge, Louisville
TE Brad Cottam, Tennessee
TE Fred Davis, USC
TE Matt Mulligan, Maine
TE Jacob Tamme, Kentucky
OT Mike Butterworth, Slippery Rock
OT Gosder Cherilus, Boston College
OT Anthony Collins, Kansas
OT Carlton Medder, Florida
OT Chad Rinehart, Northern Iowa
OT Barry Richardson, Clemson
OT Chris Williams, Vanderbilt
OC John Sullivan, Notre Dame
DE Johnny Dingle, West Virginia
DE Chris Ellis, Virginia Tech
DE Greyson Gunheim, Washington
DE Bryan Mattison, Iowa
DE Hilee Taylor, North Carolina
DT Dre Moore, Maryland
DT Carlton Powell, Virginia Tech
DT DeMario Pressley, N.C. State
DT Pat Sims, Auburn
DT Lorenzo Williams, Missouri
LB John Lee, Charleston Southern
LB Wesley Woodyard, Kentucky
CB Dwight Lowery, San Jose State
S Josh Barrett, Arizona State
S Thomas DeCoud, California
S Brad Mueller, Slippery Rock
S Tom Zbikowski, Notre Dame
K Brandon Coutu, Georgia

Categories: News Tags: , ,

Combine Watch List

February 25th, 2008 1 comment

NFL.com The Falcons will be looking at several prospects throughout their six-day stay at the NFL’s Scouting Combine this weekend. Here are just a few of the players that the Falcons have reportedly shown interest in:
Anthony Collins/KUAthletics.com
TE Gary Barnidge, Louisville (source: KFFL.com)
SS Josh Barrett, Arizona State (source: Scout.com)
WR Adarius Bowman, Oklahoma State (source: Scout.com)
QB Brian Brohm, Louisville (source: Dayton Daily News)
RB Thomas Brown, Georgia (source: Scout.com)
OT Gosder Cherilus, Boston College (source: KFFL.com)
RB Tashard Choice, Georgia Tech (source: Scout.com)
OT Anthony Collins, Kansas (source: KFFL.com)
FS Thomas DeCoud, California (source: AJC)
DE Johnny Dingle, West Virginia (source: KFFL.com)
RB Darren McFadden, Arkansas (source: AJC)
WR Darius Reynaud, West Virginia (source: KFFL.com)
RB Ray Rice, Rutgers (source: Courier News)
WR Eddie Royal, Virginia Tech (source: Scout.com)
DT Pat Sims, Auburn (source: KFFL.com)
RB Jonathan Stewart, Oregon (source: Register-Guard)
SS Tom Zbikowski, Notre Dame (source: AJC)

Jonathan Stewart
Pat Sims

Categories: News Tags: ,

Combine Watch List

February 24th, 2008 Comments off

NFL.com The Falcons will be looking at several prospects throughout their six-day stay at the NFL’s Scouting Combine this weekend. Here are just a few of the players that the Falcons have reportedly shown interest in:
Anthony Collins/KUAthletics.com
TE Gary Barnidge, Louisville (source: KFFL.com)
SS Josh Barrett, Arizona State (source: Scout.com)
WR Adarius Bowman, Oklahoma State (source: Scout.com)
QB Brian Brohm, Louisville (source: Dayton Daily News)
RB Thomas Brown, Georgia (source: Scout.com)
OT Gosder Cherilus, Boston College (source: KFFL.com)
RB Tashard Choice, Georgia Tech (source: Scout.com)
OT Anthony Collins, Kansas (source: KFFL.com)
FS Thomas DeCoud, California (source: AJC)
DE Johnny Dingle, West Virginia (source: KFFL.com)
RB Darren McFadden, Arkansas (source: AJC)
WR Darius Reynaud, West Virginia (source: KFFL.com)
RB Ray Rice, Rutgers (source: Courier News)
WR Eddie Royal, Virginia Tech (source: Scout.com)
DT Pat Sims, Auburn (source: KFFL.com)
RB Jonathan Stewart, Oregon (source: Register-Guard)
SS Tom Zbikowski, Notre Dame (source: AJC)

Jonathan Stewart
Pat Sims

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