Week one is in the books and we got a pretty good look at the strengths and weakness of this year's squad. The Eagles were a tough opponent that exposed a few flaws in the current roster. Even though the season is still very young, its never a bad idea to take a look at college football stars that would help Atlanta upgrade their personnel.
Here's what to look for as the college football season enters week three.
Michigan versus UNLV (Big Ten Network, 12pm ET)
Michigan: TE Jake Butt (Jr.)/DL Chris Wormley (Sr.)
Michigan has struggled through some tough seasons based on their standards, but the team has a pair of players that would fit in nicely with what the Falcons are trying to do on offense and defense. Junior tight end Jake Butt (sign me up for a jersey) is one of the better receiving tight ends in the nation. Through the preseason and week one, Jacob Tamme hasn't been very productive. Levine Toilolo has made a few strides underneath Kyle Shanahan, but he hasn't shown that he can be a long term option in the receiving game. Butt is playing under Jim Harbaugh at Michigan who has implemented a pro style attack similar to the one he utilized while he was with the San Francisco 49ers.
Atlanta has added depth to the defensive line in the past two offseasons, but the group could use another infusion of youth. Wormley (6'5, 300) plays with length and aggressiveness at both defensive tackle and defensive end. If the team decides to move on from Tyson Jackson in the offseason or bring in competition for Malliciah Goodman, a player of Wormley's talent and skill set would make a lot of sense in the middle of the draft.
Missouri (#22) versus Connecticut (ESPN, 12pm ET)
Missouri: C Evan Boehm (Sr.)
Mike Person is still adjusting in his move from guard to center, but if his play on Monday night was any indication, he won't be in the teams long term plans. Evan Boehm (6'3", 310) is a big, athletic center that would fit in perfectly with the offensive linemen currently stationed in Atlanta. He can get out in space on the second level and is extremely physical at the point of attack. Boehm is the type of lineman that Kyle Shanahan would fall in love with; he can be a "plug and play" center in the NFL.
Notre Dame (#8) versus Georgia Tech (#14) (NBC, 3:30pm ET)
Notre Dame: LB Jaylon Smith (Jr.)/WR Corey Robinson (Jr.)
Notre Dame has one of the most talented linebackers in the country with junior Jaylon Smith. He's a rangy, explosive linebacker with sideline to sideline ability. Smith plays both the run and pass extremely well while possessing upper echelon athleticism. For a closer look at what makes Jaylon so special, take a peak at this film breakdown I recorded with Derrik Klassen and Matt Johnson.
Corey Robinson, son of San Antonio Spurs legend David Robinson, is an imposing presence (6'4", 215) at wide receiver. He's been pretty quiet so far this season, but he has the talent to explode for a big game this weekend. Roddy White played well in week one and shouldn't be in fear of his job, but with his age the Falcons should be looking for a dynamic, long term number two option across from Julio Jones.
Miami versus Nebraska (ABC, 3:30pm ET)
Miami: G Danny Isidora (Jr.)
Nebraska: DT Maliek Collins (Jr.)
The most intriguing matchup in this game is the battles in the trenches between Miami guard Danny Isidora and Nebraska defensive tackle Maliek Collins. Both of these players have a lot to gain from their battle during this game. Isidora is a nasty, physical, athletic guard, but plays with sloppy technique that causes him to be in bad position from time to time. Collins is a very good athlete in his own right and has flashed disruptive dominance against both the run and pass.
For the Falcons, Isidora would make a lot of sense as a guard in this scheme. He more than fills the athleticism requirement that Kyle Shanahan looks for in his offensive linemen. Collins would be a nice fit in Atlanta as well; he makes a lot of sense as the rotational 3-technique that Jonathan Babineaux is currently playing. If either of these players has a big game, it could boost their draft stock tremendously. Both have the physical ability and aggressiveness that Dan Quinn is looking for in his players.
Alabama (#2) versus Ole Miss (#15) (ESPN, 9:15pm ET)
Alabama: LB Reggie Ragland (Sr.)
Ole Miss: DL Robert Nkemdiche (Jr.)
Alabama arguably has the most talented front seven unit in the entire country and that unit is led by senior linebacker Reggie Ragland. Ragland (6'2", 252) draws comparisons to current New England Patriots star Dont'a Hightower, and they were both used similarly during their time at Alabama. Ragland is big enough to challenge interior linemen against the run, but also has the range in coverage to make plays guarding tight ends and has enough speed to be a sideline to sideline defender. He would be a perfect fit in Atlanta's new defense with the relaxed coverage duties of the inside linebackers allowing him to aggressively come downhill and attack running lanes.
Right now Robert Nkemdiche (6'4, 296) has a bit of a murky projection to the NFL, but there's no denying his freakish physical gifts. Considering his height and weight, he's one of the best athletes in all of college football. However, he has yet to translate his athletic ability into technical prowess. Atlanta's current coaching staff would be one of the best places for him to land in terms of reaching his true potential as a football player. While he may not dominate against Alabama, he'll produce a few splash plays to make his athleticism and ceiling evident.
Hope everyone enjoys their college football Saturday!