HOUSTON - DECEMBER 03: Quarterback Austin Davis (C), Dominique Sullivan (L) and Lamar Holmes #72 celebrate after defeating the Houston Cougars at Robertson Stadium on December 3, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Time to put on our crazy person hats—I imagine they look like like ducks—and indulge a scenario that seems at best unlikely. That would be Lamar Holmes starting in 2012.
On paper, this seems exceedingly unlikely. Holmes is considered fairly raw, with considerable work ahead on his technical ability before he can become a top backup, much less a starting tackle. With Sam Baker and Will Svitek ahead of him on the depth chart, it doesn't seem like he's got any real shot to overtake two guys with starting experience and take over. As I've been saying, time and coaching are necessary.
And yet. The Falcons have already spoken about having an open competition for left tackle. While those words don't mean much this early in the year, it got me to thinking about what's really holding Holmes back. If he comes in, works exceptionally hard with the coaching staff from day one and plays well in pre-season, does he have even a remote shot of cracking the lineup?
My gut still says no. Holmes has all the physical tools necessary to be a tackle and is, by all accounts, a dedicated dude with no aversion to hard work. But it's tough to play left tackle in the NFL, and if he plays poorly early on it could shatter his confidence. He has size and strength in spades, and that definitely gives him the edge over Baker and Svitek. But that's not enough to overcome experience and a comfort level, however weak that level is for Baktek.
Monitor this positional battle carefully in the months ahead, though. Given the relative lack of quality in front of him and the way the Falcons seem to have fallen hard for him, it's not completely impossible.