The 2017 NFL Scouting Combine has come and gone, and we’re perhaps a little closer to understanding who the Falcons will be after. As has been the case in recent years, Atlanta’s going to keep their draft cards close to their chest until the very end.
Even so, as Charles McDonald noted yesterday, the Falcons definitely look at certain performance indicators from the Combine as they make their evaluations, and that can help point us toward players who could very well end up as Atlanta Falcons. Here’s a list of eight to watch with the Combine over and the draft somehow over a month away.
G Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky
The best guard in the class, a plus athlete, and a player who could very well be on the board at #31. Doesn’t get much simpler and cleaner than that, especially with the Falcons looking at a hole at right guard and a long-term hole at left guard.
DE/DT Tanoh Kpassagnon, Villanova
When Vaughn McClure mentions you as a potential target, I pay attention. Kpassagnon can play inside and outside, checked the boxes as far as key metrics like the 3 cone and broad jump goes, and could be hanging around in the second or third round if the Falcons go with Lamp early. Again, you’d be unwise to ignore McClure.
TE Michael Roberts, Toledo
Time will tell if Levine Toilolo returns, but Roberts is perhaps the best pure blocking tight end in this class and an underrated pass catcher, which would make him a nice long-term complement to Austin Hooper.
DT Malik McDowell, Michigan State
The play-to-play consistency (and perhaps effort) are in doubt here, but the talent is not. McDowell has a higher ceiling than Ra’Shede Hageman, a player who may spring to mind based on that first sentence, and the Falcons have the coaching staff and team needs that could help them get the most out of him. I’d love to see him land in Atlanta.
WR John Ross, Washington
The Falcons love their players fast and physical, and while Ross is likely to rise beyond a point where it would be reasonable for the Falcons to get him, they don’t come much faster or more impressive than Ross. The team has Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu under contract over the long haul, but Taylor Gabriel is on a one year RFA deal and Justin Hardy hasn’t proven to be more than a part-time asset thus far. Ross would would be a devastating addition for one of the league’s best offenses.
DE Charles Harris, Missouri
He underwhelmed, especially in key metrics like the 40, three cone and broad jump, but Harris is still one of the better pass rushers in this draft class and one of the more likely choices to be available at #31. For those reasons alone, I wouldn’t ignore him.
LB Haason Reddick, Temple
Reddick’s draft stock seems impossibly high after he blew the doors off the Combine, but one never knows how that will translate in a month and a half when teams actually have to turn their cards in. He’s a linebacker, but the Falcons still don’t have three good-to-great options in that unit, and Reddick is athletic and gifted. Again, a possibility at #31 if things shake out the right way.
S/LB/KR/PR Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
In the first round, I can’t see the Falcons touching Peppers. If he somehow makes it to the second or (in a very unlikely turn of events) third round, though? Now we’re talking.
Peppers will get slapped wit the dreaded tweener label, sure, but there’s little point in denying that he’s dangerous with the ball in his hands and can be an asset for a creative teams. Some teams have even talked about moving him to offense, but in Atlanta, he’d likely be a key piece of the special teams puzzle and potential hybrid linebacker/safety, similar to what we saw out of Kemal Ishmael a year ago, but with more upside. You have to think this unlikely, but if he’s sitting there when the Falcons go to pick on the second day, you can’t convince me that Dan Quinn won’t be thinking about it.
Which names will you be watching?