Tight ends, offensive linemen and specialists were in action on Friday in Indianapolis at the NFL Combine, but the buzz surrounding the Atlanta Falcons stemmed from two of the top pass rushers who will be this year's NFL Draft. Florida's Dante Fowler Jr. and Clemson's Vic Beasley both have ties to the Falcons, a team likely considering both of these top defenders for their first-round pick .
Dan Quinn recruited Fowler during his tenure with the Gators, and he coached the potential top 10 pick during the 2012 season. After hearing Fowler talk about his former coach, it's clear he's a fan of Quinn.
"He taught me so much that I was able to have enough information for four years," Fowler said. "He was just a great coach. A player's coach type of guy. He's smart. I was hurt when he left but I knew he was going to do great things."
Quinn reciprocated the praise when talking about Fowler.
"It's very rewarding for me to see Dante be the player that he maybe would have been three or four years ago," Quinn said. "Now, it's up to him to continue it, take the next step and develop it. One of the most fun parts in coaching is finding guys, see what they can become and see it play out in front of you."
Fowler already met with the Falcons personnel department at the Combine. This seems like a great match due to the relationship he has with Quinn and the fact that adding a player of his caliber would address a need the Falcons have ignored for several years. The biggest question is whether Fowler will be available at No. 8.
Beasley doesn't have any coaching ties with the Falcons, but he does call Atlanta home, and he grew up following the team. The Adairsville native said Michael Vick and Jamal Anderson were his favorite when he was younger.
As Jay Adams noted, Beasley put to rest concerns about his size when he weighed in at 246 pounds at the Combine. Beasley draws comparisons to Bruce Irvin and he sees himself being able to play that role in the NFL.
"That's what I look forward to playing at the next level," Beasley said. "A lot of teams see me as a 3-4 outside linebacker. I'm willing to play defensive end at the next level in a 4-3 defense. The majority of teams want me to play outside linebacker and I'm fine with that."
In the latest mock drafts from NFL.com, Daniel Jeremiah doesn't even have Beasley going in the first round. Charles Davis and Bucky Brooks see Beasley going to the Falcons. Fowler's stock is higher at the moment, but we'll see how things go after the two take the field at the Combine.
Adding a veteran linebacker?
The Falcons are expected to pursue David Harris if he is available in free agency, according to Vaughn McClure. The 31-year-old linebacker has played eight seasons with the New York Jets. Keep in mind Quinn was the Jets defensive line coach from 2007-2008, so he's familiar with Harris.
McClure also said the Falcons will take a look at Mason Foster. Raheem Morris drafted Foster in 2011 when he was the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, so there's an obvious connection to Atlanta. Foster was rated as the No. 43 inside linebacker by PFF. For comparison, Paul Worrilow finished at No. 59 in that group.
News on Lowery coming soon
In the same story from McClure linked above, he mentions Dwight Lowery's agent will meet with the Falcons tomorrow to determine if he'll stick around or head to free agency. Lowery is yet another player with a connection to Quinn, as he played on the Jets while Quinn was in New York.
Lowery is versatile enough to provide value to Quinn's defense. He'd be a cheap veteran signing for the secondary.
1) Todd Gurley declined to let doctors examine his knee. Can you blame him? While the move is unorthodox by Combine standards, if Gurley doesn't think his knee is healthy enough to show off at this point, why do it? He'll likely have to come back for a recheck at some point, but right now his main focus should be getting back to 100 percent.
2) Jesse James (not the outlaw) is making some noise after his workouts. The Penn State tight end posted solid numbers and showed good hands in receiving drills. Also, he's 6-foot-7, so that probably helps his cause.
3) Everyone loves Maxx Williams. His workout numbers aren't off the charts, but the Minnesota tight end always looks impressive running routes and showing off his ball skills.
4) La'el Collins and Andrus Peat are boosting their draft stock. They could be the first two offensive tackles off the board this year.
Niners Nation put together the top five performers from each workout on Friday. Here are the numbers from the tight ends and offensive linemen.
1. MyCole Pruitt (Southern Illinois) - 4.58
2. Wes Saxton (South Alabama) - 4.65
3. Maxx Williams (Minnesota) - 4.78
4. Clive Walford (Miami FL) - 4.79
5. Blake Bell (Oklahoma) - 4.80
1. Gerald Christian (Louisville) - 28
t-2. Jeff Heuerman (Ohio State) - 26
t-2. Jesse James (Penn State) - 26
4. Nick O'Leary (Florida State) - 21
5. E.J. Bibbs (Iowa State) - 20
1. MyCole Pruitt (Southern Illinois) - 38.0
2. Jesse James (Penn State) - 37.5
3. Wes Saxton (South Alabama) - 36.0
4. Clive Walford (Miami FL) - 35.0
5. Maxx Williams (Minnesota) - 34.5
1. Jesse James (Penn State) - 121.0
2. Clive Walford (Miami FL) - 120.0
3. Wes Saxton (South Alabama) - 119.0
4. MyCole Pruitt (Southern Illinois) - 118.0
5. Maxx Williams (Minnesota) - 117.0
1. Nick Boyle (Delaware) - 4.23
2. Blake Bell (Oklahoma) - 4.32
t-3. MyCole Pruitt (Southern Illinois) - 4.37
t-3. Maxx Williams (Minnesota) - 4.37
5. Cameron Clear (Texas A&M) - 4.48
1. Nick Boyle (Delaware) - 11.65
2. Blake Bell (Oklahoma) - 11.81
3. MyCole Pruitt (Southern Illinois) - 11.85
4. Cameron Clear (Texas A&M) - 12.07
5. Jesse James (Penn State) - 12.15
1. Ali Marpet (Hobart & William Smith) - 4.98
2. Jake Fisher (Oregon) - 5.01
3. Laurence Gibson (Virginia Tech) - 5.04
4. Brandon Scherff (Iowa) - 5.05
5. Terry Poole (San Diego State) - 5.09
1. Ereck Flowers (Miami FL) - 37
2. Mitch Morse (Missouri) - 36
3. Sean Hickey (Syracuse) - 35
4. Mark Glowinski (West Virginia) - 31
t-5. Cameron Erving (Florida State) - 30
t-5. Ali Marpet (Hobart & William Smith) - 30
1. Laurence Gibson (Virginia Tech) - 33.5
t-2. T.J. Clemmings (Pittsburgh) - 32.5
t-2. Rob Crisp (NC State) - 32.5
t-2. Jake Fisher (Oregon) - 32.5
t-5. Andrew Donnal (Iowa) - 32.0
t-5. Donovan Smith (Penn State) - 32.0
t-1. Laurence Gibson (Virginia Tech) - 113.0
t-1. Mark Glowinski (West Virginia) - 113.0
t-1. Terry Poole (San Diego State) - 113.0
t-4. Cameron Erving (Florida State) - 112.0
t-4. Mitch Morse (Missouri) - 112.0
1. Jake Fisher (Oregon) - 7.25
2. Ali Marpet (Hobart & William Smith) - 7.33
3. Cameron Erving (Florida State) - 7.48
4. Jarvis Harrison (Texas A&M) - 7.51
5. Ty Sambrailo (Colorado State) - 7.54
1. Jake Fisher (Oregon) - 4.33
2. Ali Marpet (Hobart & William Smith) - 4.47
3. Mitch Morse (Missouri) - 4.50
4. T.J. Clemmings (Pittsburgh) - 4.54
5. Laurence Gibson (Virginia Tech) - 4.56
Saturday features the quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers at the NFL Combine, so it should fun to watch. We'll have more updates along the way. Any thoughts on the news from Friday?