The Atlanta Falcons had an interesting day on Friday. I want to take a quick look at their two picks before we move into the live thread for the third day.
I'm not going to waste a lot of time with the preamble. Both of these picks threw me for a loop, and while I find something to like in both, I'm under no illusions that they're wildly popular pick. This is likely to be a divisive draft for Falcons fans for at least the next year.
Faced with needs along both lines and arguably at tight end, safety and more, the Falcons ultimately chose to go offensive line in the second round. The pick was a huge surprise, to say the least.
The good news? Peter Konz is an extremely intelligent football player, perhaps the most technically sound lineman in the draft and a guy who the Falcons believe can play both guard and center. He'll likely compete to start at right guard now, and he'll likely be the starting center by 2013. His work ethic and field awareness is such that I wouldn't bet against him seizing a job this season.
The downside? He's had ankle injury issues and blood clots in his lungs, missing games in each of the last three seasons. He's not the strongest guy out there and is a little tall for a center, the combination of which may hurt him a bit at the point of attack. With time in the weight room and training, hopefully he can overcome the strength question. This is not a pick that comes without questions, even if you ignore the questions of whether the team needed a guard.
Ultimately, I like the pick, though I was rooting for a tackle or tight end. The team is talking him up as a starter at right guard, and if he's as good as advertised, he ought to be a huge upgrade there. The question is how the line shakes out now, given that there's a number of guards dotting the depth chart. If Konz plays well at guard and transitions smoothly back to center in 2013, I'll be thrilled. He certainly has the talent.
Then there's Lamar Holmes.
This was a massive reach until proven otherwise. I can't imagine the team went for Holmes in the third round without catching wind of some other team being ready to pounce on him some time in the fourth. Even so, you can argue that this was an eyebrow-raising pick. In fact, it's not an argument. It was weird.
Holmes has great size, arm length and pretty good game strength. He was good in pass protection in college. Everything else—from footwork to focus to technique—needs work. I won't tell you he's going to wreck Sam Baker on the first day of training camp, because he won't. This was a pick for 2013 and beyond, and as a result, the Falcons will be hammered for it for at least the next 16 months or so.
But there is something to like here. We've complained long and bitterly about Sam Baker and the seeming revolving door of offensive linemen who have less than ideal size but are gosh darn scrappy. None of those guys seem to work out the way we'd like. Holmes has size and power that puts Baker and Will Svitek to shame. For once, it's not a polished guy with low upside, but a rough stone with considerable promise.
If the Falcons can coach him up, it's entirely possible they have a starting-caliber left tackle from the third round, which would be nuts. If they fail, they will deservedly be crucified for wasting a third round pick on someone so raw. For now, choose between cautious optimism and outright dismissal. It's hard to blame you for either stance, but let's hope Holmes defies even our rosiest expectations. Just don't expect to have your answer until 2013, at the earliest.
At least the Falcons are paying attention to the offensive line, right? React to these picks in the comments.