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2015 Falcons: Running Backs

June 15th, 2012 Comments off
US PRESSWIRE

Le’Veon Bell

Continuing our look at where the Falcons roster could be come 2015 after giving an overview of the quarterback position, it’s time to move on to the running backs.

The Falcons managed to replace Michael Turner with their 2013 second round pick out of Michigan State Le’Veon Bell. Bell’s combination of size, speed, and ability to be an everydown back made him an attractive option in Koetter’s offense. Bell becomes the Falcons third foray into the Michigan State family at the running back position, having picked up disappointments like T.J. Duckett and DeAndra Cobb in previous drafts. But Bell does not disappoint, rushing for nearly a thousand yards in his first year. He follows that up with a strong 2014 season, finishing among the Top 7 rushers in the league. Most project 2015 to be a potential Pro Bowl season for Bell as he vies with LeSean McCoy, Mark Ingram, Ryan Williams, Marcus Lattimore, David Wilson, DeMarco Murray, and Doug Martin as one of the premier backs in the NFC.

Behind Bell is the trusty Jacquizz Rodgers, now entering his fifth season in the NFL, where he is considered one of the league’s top third down backs. While Bell gets the bulk of the carries, most experts feel that Rodgers’ versatility and consistency as a situational back is the true X Factor in the Falcons offensive attack, drawing comparisons akin to how Reggie Bush and Darren Sproles have fit in New Orleans in recent seasons.

Still manning the fullback is solid, but unspectacular Bradie Ewing who has carved out a nice niche as one of the better blocking fullbacks in the league. Ewing doesn’t get a ton of reps rushing or catching the ball, but is steady producer when it comes to leading Bell and Rodgers through holes. 2015 marks the final year of Ewing’s contract, but all expectations are that the Falcons are going to lock him up to a long-term extension after the season that will make him one of the five highest-paid fullbacks in the NFL.

As for current Falcons, Turner’s last year with the Falcons was in 2012. And the team also opted not to bring back 31-year old free agent Jason Snelling in 2015, who gave the team two solid years of backup production beyond 2012.

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FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 17 “The One About the Falcons”

June 10th, 2012 Comments off

In this week’s episode, Ryan and I get back to the grind of talking about the Falcons. Taking segments of recent live shows where we talk about different position groups on the offense, this episode is an amalgamation (I know, big word) of those discussions. Also included in this episode is our interview with The Bleacher Report’s Scott Carasik, another knowledgeable Falcon fan. If you want to hear practically every offensive player on the Falcons roster get discussed, then this is the episode for you. Topics range from who will make the roster to what can be expected from different players this year. What if any changes that Dirk Koetter has will affect different players and positions. Ryan and I get into a long debate about what exactly is an elite quarterback. Michael Turner’s future, Chris Redman, Kerry Meier, Julio Jones, and Sam Baker are other Falcon players that get extensive discussions in this episode.

Ep. 17: The One About the Falcons [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 39 minutes

 

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop Ryan an e-mail at: ryan-valdez@live.com. Don’t forget to drop by every week to hear our live broadcast at: justin.tv/didziojo

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes. You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Falcons sign 4 draft picks, 3 from tryouts

May 14th, 2012 Comments off

Yesterday the Falcons announced the signing of four of their six 2012 draft picks, as well as the signing of three players that tried out with the team during this past weekend’s rookie minicamp. Of the draftees that signed on the dotted line, top pick Peter Konz, along with fullback Bradie Ewing, safety Charles Mitchell, and defensive tackle Travian Robertson signed four-year deals. Offensive tackle Lamar Holmes and defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi still remain unsigned. From the teams tryout players, the team signed fullback Lee Meisner, wide receiver Kenny Stafford, and tight end Aron White. To make room, the team cut ties with undrafted defensive tackle Ray Kibble.

Meisner (5-11/241) hails from Colorado State-Pueblo where he served as a four-year starter at inside linebacker. He also served part-time as the team’s punter his freshman and sophomore year, combining for 36.0-yard average on 53 punts. He led the team three consecutive years in tackling, having a career high of 124 tackles and 9.5 for loss as a junior. He had 98 tackles, 8 for loss, and a career-high 4 interceptions as a senior. For his career, Meisner finished with 349 tackles, 30.5 tackles for loss, 7.5 sacks, 8 interceptions, 12 pass breakups, 4 forced fumbles, and 1 recovery. The Falcons intend on converting him to offense in order to compete for a reserve spot at fullback.

Stafford (6-1/198) started 9 of 13 games this past year for Toledo, catching 21 passes for 272 yards (13.0 avg) and 1 touchdown. For his career, he caught 59 passes for 906 yards (15.4 avg) and 8 scores during his career, predominantly as a reserve. At Toledo’s pro day in March he clocked a 4.37 40 time with a 35-inch vertical jump. He is also the nephew of former Minnesota Vikings All-Pro wideout Cris Carter.

White (6-4/239) was the backup to Orson Charles at Georgia working most of his career as the No. 2 guy. But he did start as a sophomore, where he had career bests of 13 catches for 198 yards (15.2 avg) and 4 touchdowns, while starting 12 of 13 games. The past two seasons, he has caught a combined 18 passes for 226 yards (12.6 avg) and 4 scores.

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Falcons cut Mughelli

May 8th, 2012 Comments off

The Falcons announced today that Ovie Mughelli was released from the team. Rumors of Ovie’s eventual departure began the moment the team used a fifth round pick on Bradie Ewing in last month’s draft. Ovie’s release is by no means a surprise, as it was predicted as a possibility way back in January on this site, but it is unfortunate given the timing. Per the AJC, he was cleared to return to practice this past Friday. And had the team decided to cut him at any point in the past 8 weeks since free agency began, it could have given him more opportunities to find a landing spot with another team and a potential starting position.

Mughelli was signed by the Falcons in 2007 to what was at the time the most lucrative deal ever given to a fullback. Although, Bobby Petrino’s offense made minimal use of that position, and thus Mughelli languished on that team during the Falcons poor season. With the introduction of Mike Smith, Mike Mularkey, and Michael Turner to the offense, Mughelli’s value increased a hundredfold. Over the course of the next three seasons, Mughelli staked out a reputation as one of the league’s top fullbacks and lead blockers in the league, culminating in him being voted to the Pro Bowl in 2010. In 2011, Mughelli suffered a knee injury in the season opener against the Chicago Bears. The injury limited him in subsequent games before he was forced to be shut down for the season at the end of October.

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Ewing’s addition should not spell end for Ovie

April 29th, 2012 Comments off
US PRESSWIRE

Ovie Mughelli

The Falcons used a fifth round pick on Saturday to take Wisconsin fullback Bradie Ewing. And it caused a lot of speculation that Ovie Mughelli’s tenure as an Atlanta Falcon will come to an end. And while that is certainly a possibility, given Ovie’s age (32), the fact that he’s coming off a knee injury, and cutting him can clear about $3 million off the Falcons 2012 salary cap. But if the Falcons are looking to make the best football decision, then keeping Mughelli is a must.

I’ve been vocal in the past about Michael Turner’s potential to have a detrimental effect on the Falcons offense. A big part of that is that Turner and Mughelli are tied at the hip. When Turner has big games, it almost always coincides with Ovie having big games as a blocker. The pair have worked together for four years, and much like the relationship between a quarterback and a wide out goes the relationship between a tailback and his lead blocker.

The Falcons are intent on keeping Turner, and having Mughelli block for him is the best strategy to getting the most out of Turner in 2012. While Ewing is a solid lead blocker, as a rookie he’s not likely to add significantly more value as a starter than Mike Cox would. Ewing just is not a physical, smashmouth pile-clearing lead blocker that Ovie is. And that style of football has made Turner one of the more productive runners over the past four seasons, and earned Ovie a reputation for being the league’s top blocking fullback alongside Vonta Leach.

Ovie’s knee injury is a concern, but unlikely to have lingering effects. All reports indicate that Ovie suffered an MCL tear which is not nearly as grievous as an ACL tear. In fact, most often MCL tears do not require surgery to properly heal, although Ovie did undergo season-ending surgery last season.

And while Ovie’s age might seem to indicate he is nearing the end, giving the longevity that other Pro Bowl fullbacks like Mack Strong (last season was at age 36), William Henderson (35), Lorenzo Neal (38), and Tony Richardson (39) in the past decade, there’s no reason to expect that Ovie has several years left in the tank.

As for the money issue, given that Ovie is entering the final year of his contract, the Falcon could easily lower his cap hit by adding another year to the deal. Ovie has a 2012 cap hit of $3.733 million, with $3 million of that being base salary. As a 10th year veteran, the minimum salary is $925,000. If the Falcons were to lower his 2012 base salary to $925,000, and add another year in 2013 for the same price, and then convert the difference ($3 million – $925,000 = $2.075 million) into a signing bonus, they could almost nearly cut Ovie’s 2012 cap hit in half. The savings of nearly $1.8 million would allow a much more palatable contract for the Falcons to handle this season.

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Falcons add FB Ewing in the fifth

April 28th, 2012 Comments off
US PRESSWIRE

Bradie Ewing

With the 157th overall pick in the fifth round, the Falcons took Peter Konz’s teammate Bradie Ewing, a fullback out of Wisconsin. Ewing is a consistent 239-pound lead blocker that helped alongside Konz to clear the way for Montee Ball and one of the nation’s top ground games.

Ewing was used primarily as a lead blocker, but did managed to catch 28 passes for 328 yards over his career, and rushed 7 times for 33 yards. He scored a combined 4 touchdowns. Ewing served as a team captain for the Badgers.

The addition of Ewing could spell the end of Ovie Mughelli’s tenure with the Falcons. If the Falcons opt to keep Mughelli for another year, then Ewing can add valuable depth and ability on special teams. But is a polished enough lead blocker to potentially start right away.

Click here to read a scouting report of Ewing.

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