The NFL Scouting Combine has wrapped up, and winners and losers have emerged amid the flurry of 40 times and bench press reps.
Here at The Falcoholic, we'll be reviewing these results between now and April, but I thought I'd kick it off by taking a quick look at some prospects who distinguished themselves and might be of interest to the Falcons. It's by no means an exhaustive list—I'm not exactly known for those—but it should get the conversation started.
Follow along after the jump and we'll run down my list.
WR Edmond Gates, Abiline Christian: The Falcons have been linked to Ricardo Lockette, a small school product with great wheels who is almost pure potential at this point. The man who tied him for fastest 40 time for receivers at the combine—4.37 seconds—is Gates.
This dude was way more productive than Lockette in 2010, piling up 66 catches, 1,182 yards and 13 touchdowns. He's got the potential to be the kind of burner the Falcons could really make use of in the offense, but he'll need to learn to run routes better to be a good fit. He might also go in the middle rounds, so it would require more of an investment to get him than Lockette. Might be worth it, though.
RB Mario Fannin, Auburn: Speed kills in the NFL, so you'll forgive me if I'm intrigued by guys like Gates and Fannin.
Fannin's never going to be a starter at the NFL level, but he put up a blazing 4.38 second 40 and carries a little weight at 5'10", 231 pounds. He's also one of the most productive pass catching backs in school history, so he'd be fantastic in Atlanta, which could use a home run hitter with receiving acumen as a backup to Michael Turner.
Don't be surprised if you see his name linked to the Falcons in the next month or so.
WR/WC Randall Cobb, Kentucky: Our own Ball Hawk has been championing Cobb for months now, so I feel compelled to include him here. The "WC" designation is for wildcard, because inventive teams could have a field day lining up him under center or as a back.
With his 4.45 dash time and what scouts call exceptional character, he seems like a great fit for the Falcons as a slot receiver. His similarities to Harry Douglas might make him a little redundant, but I think Cobb's got great potential.
TE Rob Housler, Florida Atlantic: Housler made this list chiefly because he posted the fastest time for a tight end at the combine, a blazing 4.55. A sizeable guy with nice hands, Housler would be worth a mid-to-late round look if the team isn't sold on Michael Palmer or Marquez Branson as a long-term solution.
G Mike Pouncey, Florida: If the Falcons let one or both of the Harvey Dahl-Justin Blalock tandem walk, they may seriously consider looking at Pouncey.
I don't consider this the likeliest pick given how much the team and I both are crushing on Mike Johnson, but Pouncey's the best guard in the draft by a wide margin and did nothing to hurt his stock during Combine drills. If the Falcons want to be sure they have someone on the line ready to stop in and maul opposing interior defensive linemen from day one, Pouncey's the choice.
You'll note there's no tackles on this list, and that's by design. This is one of the best OT classes in recent memory, and I think they'll be worth taking a more in-depth look at if the Falcons don't manage to re-sign Tyson Clabo.
DE Ryan Kerrigan, Purdue: There's already been considerable discussion about Kerrigan in these quarters, and I'll admit I'm not totally sold on the guy as a solution to the Falcons' pass-rushing woes. But he's at least worth a look.
Kerrigan is looking to sell himself to teams as a 4-3 end and reported to the combine at a ripped 6'4", 267 pounds. With 33.5 sacks in his college career, it's safe to assume he knows how to get to the passer. The extra weight might help him get around the superior tackles at the NFL level.
CB Brandon Harris, Miami: I know how many of you feel about Miami players in general, but Harris could end up being a steal on draft day. Smallish at 5'9" but with exceptionally fast footwork and the ability to turn on a dime, Harris is the kind of guy who could fit in well with the Falcons as a speedy cover corner.
His performance in the Sun Bowl honestly doesn't worry me that much, given that he was consistently very good at Miami. If he falls out of the first and/or second rounds, I could see the Falcons considering him, though he'll have to compete with some of the offensive weapons listed above.
If you have a favorite prospect who impressed at the combine, make sure to mention them in the comments. I'll do more in-depth profiles as the draft approaches.