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FalcFans Weekly March 23, 2014

March 23rd, 2014 1 comment
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

Corey Peters

Defensive tackle Corey Peters appeared on Sirius XM NFL Radio on Saturday afternoon, and Pro Football Talk has a pretty good summary of what was said with quotes. In it, he revealed that he’s off crutches in the midst of his rehab from a torn Achilles tendon. Earlier this month, it was reported that Peters was still in a walking boot when he was re-signed by the team.

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Former Falcons defensive tackle Vance Walker discusses “political” reasons that drove him out of Atlanta a year ago. Here’s an interesting quote:

I’d say, it wasn’t necessarily the scheme; it was probably a little more political from the Falcons to the Raiders. The Falcons had a decent roster of D tackles, and even though I was showing and proving that I could rush the passer, I never really got the opportunity. That’s what they promised I would be able to do out in Oakland. It kind of freed me up and let me show my abilities. Obviously, I know I would be a lot better, I could still be a lot better and learn from my mistakes and learn from others. I think (it was just) a personnel type of thing, with me being younger, with the Falcons; I guess they weren’t ready to give me that role just yet.

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Malliciah Goodman has reportedly packed on some muscle this offseason in advance of his expected role as a defensive end in the 3-man front the Falcons are likely to feature more this season.

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Falcons Pro Day Round-Up 3/22

March 22nd, 2014 1 comment
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Barr

Vaughn McClure reports the Falcons will work out UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr before the end of the month. Barr is potentially a target for the team at the top of the draft. Barr was able to improve on his Combine numbers in the 40-yard dash and bench press at his pro day last week. He reportedly clocked a 4.44-second 40 time and lifted 225 pounds 19 times on March 11, improvements from the 4.66 seconds and 15 reps he did last month at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

McClure also reports that Arizona State outside linebacker Carl Bradford worked out for the Falcons this past Thursday. After a solid Combine, where the 6-1/250-pound linebacker ran a 4.76-second 40, he was able to improve to a 4.64-second mark at his pro day two weeks ago. Bradford played linebacker, defensive end and special teams during his career at Arizona State. This past season, he led the team with 8.5 sacks.

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Tony Pauline of TFY Draft Insider also brings some scoops in terms of players the Falcons worked out this week.

Tony Pauline reports that Falcons defensive line coach Bryan Cox worked out Delaware DT Zach Kerr on Wednesday. Kerry is a bulky nose tackle prospect that measured in at 6-1, 326 pounds at the Combine last month. He did 28 bench reps also. This past season, Kerr had 57 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. He worked out in front of 14 teams at Delaware’s pro day on Tuesday, which likely included the Falcons.

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Categories: Draft Central Tags: , , ,

Is Zeke Motta An Option For Falcons at Safety?

March 18th, 2014 1 comment
David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Zeke Motta makes a tackle

Two weeks ago, I discussed some excerpts from Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff’s appearance on the Rich Eisen Podcast.

Included in their discussion centering on the Combine, was a brief discussion of safety Zeke Motta. And it made me think that the Falcons are much higher on Motta than probably his play may merit.

Is it possible that the reason why the Falcons did not successfully land a free safety to replace the recently released Thomas DeCoud is because they believe Motta is capable of competing for the starting position?

But first, let’s take a look at what exactly Dimitroff said. This comes in the portion of the podcast where Eisen was asking whether or not the workouts done at the Combine influence teams’ draft boards.

Eisen: Does your board change now?
Dimitroff: No question. It changes and yet we’re very mindful of it not changing drastically. But there will be movements up and down. And quite honestly as much as we don’t want to talk about and we don’t want the agents to hear about it, when someone runs a truly horrible 40 time, it’s amazing how quickly a player can plummet.
Eisen: Just the one 40-yard dash?
Dimitroff: It’s amazing. One of the guys last year that we acquired through the draft was Zeke Motta from Notre Dame. Your guy Mike Mayock loved him and he didn’t run a good time at the Combine unfortunately. We drafted him in the seventh round and there was no way he should have been a seventh rounder. He fell quite a bit and we like what we have in him now. Some people just don’t run good times. They’re not good 40 time guys but they play a lot faster.
Eisen: So here you are using an example of how a guy dropped because of a 40 and yet he’s a football player that is more than useful to the Atlanta Falcons organization. So why read so much into somebody’s 40-yard dash?
Dimitroff: We talk about it all the time and the league is a matchup league. And that part of the matchup is so important. You can have the most athletic and smooth, fluid individual running routes, catching balls, doing whatever but if they can’t stay in phase, meaning they can’t stay with that player. Whether that’s a defensive back and a receiver or an O-lineman mirroring a D-lineman they have no chance in this league. So from a speed standpoint at his position it’s very important for him to have range and people pass him up. There are those situations where guys are football and game-speed fast and not on the fly.

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Categories: Features Tags: , , ,

FalcFans Weekly Round-Up – March 16, 2014

March 16th, 2014 Comments off

One young Panthers fan did not react well to news of Steve Smith’s departure from Carolina. I understand your pain, young man. I’m a Falcon fan and I felt the same.

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Categories: News Tags: ,

Falcons Pro Day Round-Up 3/16

March 16th, 2014 Comments off
AJ McCarron has A-plus workout at Alabama’s pro day

Kevin Pierre-Louis at the Combine

This week there was not as much news down the pipeline involving pro days due to the opening of free agency garnering most of the attention. But Atlanta Falcons representatives were spotted at a number of pro days from this past week.

Quarterback Matt Ryan made an appearance at his alma mater, Boston College’s pro day on Wednesday along with 29 NFL teams, which likely included the Falcons. They were there to witness running back Andre Williams, Boston College’s best prospect, try to improve his 40 time. Williams clocked a 40-yard dash time of 4.56 seconds at the Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last month, but ran three times at his pro day with times of 4.54, 4.43 and 4.57 seconds.

Reports indicate that Boston College linebacker Kevin Pierre-Louis is scheduled for a workout with the Falcons at some point. Pierre-Louis was invited to the Combine and is projected to be a late-round pick. At his pro day, he stood pat on his Combine numbers, which were impressive due to a 4.51-second 40-yard dash, 28 bench reps of 225 pounds, 39-inch vertical jump, 10-foot, 8-inch broad jump and 6.92-second three-cone drill.

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All 32 NFL teams were at Oklahoma State’s pro day on Thursday. There they got to see top cornerback Justin Gilbert stand on most of his Combine numbers, but he did run a 6.91-second three-cone drill.

Quarterback Clint Chelf has an upcoming workout with the Falcons according to reports.

Chelf began this past season as the starter for Oklahoma State, but was quickly pulled in the season-opener. He would regain the job and start the final seven games, leading the Cowboys to a 5-2 record to finish the year. He led the team with 2,173 yards, 17 touchdowns and eight interceptions while completing 56.4 percent of his passes.

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Categories: Draft Central Tags: , , ,

FalcFans Weekly Round-Up – March 9, 2014

March 9th, 2014 Comments off
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Ebron

Publishing weekly round-ups dealing with various Atlanta Falcons news was a regular event during the abyss known as 2011 NFL Lockout. Since then, I haven’t had much need for them but I figure that it is time to dust them off this offseason.

Partially because my day job has me traveling a lot during the week which limits the number of timely updates and posts I can have during the week involving Falcons-related items. So they will be partially house-cleaning for any stories I may not have written during the week.

I will also aggregate some articles, both Falcons-related and not, that I think are worthy of views that were posted during the past week.

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The Falcons are actively working on retaining some of their own free agents including defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux, center Joe Hawley, and guard Mike Johnson according to reports.

Rounding up news involving Falcons free agents is that defensive tackle Peria Jerry is also unlikely to be retained, prompting some celebration.

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North Carolina tight end prospect Eric Ebron joins the list of potential draft picks being openly in favor of playing for the Falcons. South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney previously voiced his favor for Atlanta as a potential landing zone. Here’s what Ebron had to say:

I would love to play for the Falcons. Julio Jones, Roddy White and Matt Ryan – I would love to play with those guys. Those are big shoes to fill, which I’m not afraid of. I can’t walk into the league expecting to be Tony G. I’m just going to compete as hard as I can as myself.

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Falcons Pro Day Round-Up 3/8

March 8th, 2014 Comments off
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews

Recapping all the latest from the Atlanta Falcons in regards to pro day visits and draft interest from this past week:

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff was present at Texas A&M on Tuesday to mingle with old colleagues and check out offensive tackle Jake Matthews. Matthews was the main attraction since quarterback Johnny Manziel and wide receiver Mike Evans opted not to work out, instead waiting for a later workout planned for March 27. Matthews stuck with positional drills, standing on his Combine numbers from last month.

Matthews is considered a potential target for the Falcons at the top of May’s draft.

Of those that did participate, running back Ben Malena measured in at 5-8, 194 pounds and did 27 bench reps of 225 pounds, ran a 4.54-second 40 time and jumped 33.5 inches on his vertical leap.

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D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC reports that the Falcons sent two representatives to Clemson’s pro day on Friday, including new hire Billy Devaney, to check out that school’s top prospects.

While wide receiver Sammy Watkins drew a lot of praise from onlookers, Ledbetter touts quarterback Tajh Boyd’s performance. Boyd, who struggled during the Senior Bowl, was able to rebound by completing 66 of 67 scripted passes at his workout throwing to receivers like Watkins.

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Categories: Draft Central Tags: , ,

Falcons Eye Mack at Buffalo Pro Day

March 4th, 2014 Comments off

SB Nation’s Bull Run reports that Falcons area scout Mike Potts was expected to be on hand at the University at Buffalo’s pro day today among representatives from 19 other teams. There, Potts would get the chance to see outside linebacker Khalil Mack, one of the premier draft prospects this year.

After an impressive Combine performance last month where Mack clocked a 4.65-second 40-yard dash, today he was able to improve his time to somewhere between 4.53 and 4.55 seconds according to several stopwatches. Mack failed to improve upon his 23 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press from the Combine today. Also at Indianapolis, Mack lept 40 inches on the vertical jump as well as timed 7.08 seconds in the three-cone drill.

Mack finished his career as Buffalo’s all-time leader in sacks (28.5), tackles for loss (75) and forced fumbles (16).

Other Buffalo prospects trying to take advantage of the high attendance were running back Branden Oliver (26 bench reps, 4.63-second 40), safety Okoye Houston (4.56 40) and cornerback Najja Johnson (4.38 40).

Categories: Draft Central Tags: , ,

Falcons Check Out Robinson at Auburn Pro Day

March 4th, 2014 2 comments

Reports surfaced this morning that the Atlanta Falcons had sent representatives to Auburn University for that school’s pro day today. Most likely they were on hand to see Auburn’s bevy of draft prospects including Greg Robinson, widely considered this year’s most talented offensive tackle.

But it was outside linebacker Dee Ford who stole the show, working out for the first time due to sitting out at last month’s Combine in Indianapolis because of a back injury. Ford showed no ill effects, impressing with a 40-yard dash time of 4.54 seconds, 29 bench reps of 225 pounds, a broad jump of 10 feet, 4 inches and vertical jump of 35.5 inches. He also weighed in at 244 pounds, eight pounds lighter than his weight at Indianapolis.

Robinson also dropped weight since the Combine, down five pounds at 327 pounds. He mostly stood on his Combine numbers, as he wowed observers in Indianapolis with a 4.92-second 40 time, 9 foot-5 inch broad jump and 32 bench reps. Robinson is already beginning to line up private workouts with one scheduled with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers later this week.

Other notes from workouts on Tuesday for Auburn were:

  • Defensive back Blake Poole was timed a 4.38 seconds in his 40-yard dash.
  • Fullback Jay Prosch ran a 4.72-second 40 and did 27 bench reps.
  • Cornerback Chris Davis ran a 40 in 4.51 seconds and jumped 40.5 inches on his vertical.
  • Running back Tre Mason stood on most of his Combine results but did run a 6.7-second three-cone.
Categories: Draft Central Tags: , ,

Takeaways from Last Week – March 3, 2014

March 3rd, 2014 1 comment
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Thomas Dimitroff addresses the media at the Combine

After hearing general manager Thomas Dimitroff on the Rich Eisen Podcast this past week, I’m thinking that the Atlanta Falcons may not be as intent on upgrading the pass rush as much as they are with other areas of their roster, including their offensive line. Most of their conversation centered on the value of the Combine and how teams assess the things they see or don’t see in Indianapolis in the final evaluations of things.

Here are some interesting excerpts with my commentary. Editor’s Note: Dimitroff’s initial excerpted comments were taken from the middle of his conversation with Eisen, while the latter one was taken from the end. But since they are related, I feel they work together in context.

Eisen: Let’s talk about your Falcons right now. For the lack of a better way to put it, what in the world happened with the Falcons last year?
Dimitroff: Oh wow. 4-12. You think about that, going from 13-3 to 4-12, what an incredible decline. We know that. Someone mentioned that it was an historical decline. I believe there were a number of things that were going on with our season and no one wants to complain about the injuries. Everyone’s dealt with injuries. Interestingly enough we were handling the injuries to a spot and then when Julio went down, we dropped into a pit that we weren’t able to pull ourselves out of. That was unfortunate, that was something that was disheartening to me because I thought our resiliency and our ability to do something like that was much stronger given the five, six, and seven-year talent that we had versus the earlier years when we had first and second-year guys. So that was tough. I’ve also said and I’ve said this publicly, I really believe that it was a mis-assessment and a misevaluation of the readiness of that offensive line to come together for Matt. Because in the end we still have stuff to do on our D-line. But if we’re not protecting the guy spinning the ball, to our point earlier, we’re not going to be a prolific offense and we’re not going to be an elite football team. So we didn’t protect him properly and Matt was not able to step up in the pocket and throw. I thought he did an admirable job dealing with what he had to. He was waylaid many, many times as you know. But he is such a fantastic leader. I’m happy with how he responded.

Eisen: So in reading into your comments about the Falcons…offensive line? I know I don’t want you to show your cards here, because obviously there are many weeks to go before this May draft. Offensive line? Would that be an easy concept to target what you’re looking at in the draft this year?
Dimitroff: You know I looked at many and we have looked at many positions and many opportunities to look at free agency. I’ve always said this, you know that: free agency, look at the draft, see where we can get the best value and the best football player. Again, no mystery that we need to fortify both fronts. That’s going to be important for us. So, you look at O-line, you look at D-line, you look at our linebackers. You can rush the passer as a linebacker as well. You can do certain things that can protect our offensive threat, i.e. Matt Ryan in many ways. But we know as well as anyone if you don’t have stoutness in front of a quarterback and you don’t provide the pocket, you have little chance of being successful in this league.

It’s comments like these that make me think the Falcons using their top draft selection on a pass rusher is anything but a forgone conclusion. It’s very interesting that besides injuries, the first thing that Dimitroff mentioned in response to what went wrong with the Falcons in 2013 was offensive line play.

What that says is that the Falcons may see their pass protection as the bigger priority in regards to upgrading this offseason versus the pass rush. Now, that could manifest in a number of ways. But more than likely, it would appear that the team won’t simply settle on Gabe Carimi as the lone upgrade to the unit this offseason.

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