After all those 40 times, jumps and creepy height and weight drooling that scouts did for the last week, what did we actually learn?
The truth is, not a ton. We've learned that one workout can color the perception of a prospect. We learned that some prospects—I'm looking at you, Vontaze Burfict—are in for a draft-day freefall thanks to a nightmarish week. Others, like wide receiver Steve Hill, are heading for a big rise.
For the Falcons' purposes, though, a lot of this is moot. They're not picking until late in the second round, which means the vast majority of these elite prospects will be off the board. But there's still a few interesting story lines that will reverberate beyond the Combine and throughout the coming months.
- They're interested in offensive skill players. Thomas Dimitroff has acknowledged the appeal of the running back and tight end classes this year, which are both strong at the top and exceedingly deep. Expect at least one of the team's first three picks going toward one of those positions. I would not be stunned if they drafted one of each.
The standout at tight end who might actually slip far enough is Michael Engew, who turned in a great Combine and has all the tools to succeed at the NFL level. The Falcons could probably snap up a running back like David Wilson or Robert Turbin in the second or third round, too, if they were so inclined.
- Assuming the Falcons bring back Brent Grimes and Thomas DeCoud or sign free agents to replace them, they have the opportunity to not drop picks into the secondary for the first time since Thomas Dimitroff arrived in Atlanta. Consider that this is actually a relatively weak class of corners and safeties outside of a few top choices and this would seem to be the year to do that.
- If the Falcons allow Curtis Lofton to walk, it might not be so they can give Akeem Dent a starting job. Mychal Kendricks is a prototype middle linebacker with crazy speed (4.47 40), excellent tackling skills and decent coverage ability. He's widely projected to go in the second or third round, and he's flown under the radar thus far.
You could not possibly pick a better replacement for Lofton out of the draft, if the Falcons elect to go that route, and don't think they don't know that. The Falcons will be aggressive in free agency in targeting the offensive line and defensive line, where the most major holes are. If they manage to land players to fill those spots and they don't bring Lofton back, I'd be hard-pressed to argue against Kendricks. I think he'll be there with their pick in the second, too.
- The overall depth of this draft ensures that teams can get quality players throughout, though most of the true stars are concentrated very near the top of the first round. The Falcons won't be making any aggressive moves up the draft board and back into the first round this year with that depth, and they may even be able to trade down and pick up a few more picks.
That's what I came out of the Combine thinking. How about all of you?