We’re almost there: the 2017 NFL Draft is less than three weeks away. However, the debate over the Falcons’ biggest need continues to rage on. Is it the now-vacant RG spot, or is it the LEO role opposite Vic Beasley? There’s no clear answer, so instead, we’ll continue giving you reports on prospects at both positions. Because we’re just nice like that.
Today’s report focuses on Indiana G Dan Feeney. He’s usually in the conversation for best interior offensive lineman, but Forrest Lamp seems to have received a lion’s share of the hype. Don’t let that get you down on Feeney, who is a perfect fit for what Atlanta wants to do on offense.
Let’s take a closer look at Feeney’s game.
G Dan Feeney, Indiana
Very good athlete. Feeney possesses the desired short-area quickness and lateral movement ability to excel in a zone-blocking scheme. Efficient in space with little wasted movement. Effortlessly slides from blocking at the line to taking on defenders at the second level. Excellent technician with superb football IQ. Plays with great hand placement and understanding of leverage—knows where and how to initiate contact with defenders. Executed a dizzying array of blocks effectively: pulls, reaches, stretch plays, screens.
Well-rounded player that is effective in both pass protection and run blocking. Feeney wins with his combination of athleticism and technique. Plays with a fire and nastiness that teams covet—blocks until the whistle on every play. It's a rare sight to see guards sprinting down the field to block on big plays, but Feeney did it often. Has the "want to" as a blocker that you can't teach. Two-time team captain with impeccable character and experience playing G and T.
Feeney is not a good fit for a power-scheme team. He doesn't blow people off the line or maul defenders in the run game. Had some issues with bull rushes and occasionally got pushed back by bigger, stronger defenders. Has a top-heavy build and could stand to bulk up his lower body a bit to better handle the power he'll see in the NFL.
Feeney is clearly at his best on the move and can look a little average when blocking in the "phone booth". Sometimes struggles to sustain blocks and can get twisted around by defenders. Concussion concerns could alarm some teams (see below).
—INJURY: Feeney sustained a concussion early in the 2016 season. He missed four games due to symptoms arising from the injury. He returned to finish the season and has been healthy since.
Grade: 1.5 (late 1st-early 2nd)
Feeney may not possess the elite athletic upside of Forrest Lamp, but he’s every bit the Day 1 starter. He’s an advanced technician that excels in pass protection and has proven that he can make all the blocks that a zone-scheme would ask for in the running game. In Atlanta, he’d provide a huge upgrade over Chris Chester in pass protection and a small upgrade in run blocking.
He’s not a very flashy pick, but he’s absolutely worth Atlanta’s first rounder because of his ideal fit in their scheme. Many fans and analysts believe he will last until our second rounder, but that is extremely wishful thinking. Feeney is a borderline first-round talent that will be coveted by zone-scheme teams in need of interior help.
If Lamp and the Falcons’ top choices at EDGE are gone at 31, Feeney is an excellent consolation prize. He’ll come in and immediately provide an upgrade over what Atlanta had last season while stabilizing the RG position for years to come. Major investment in the offensive line should help the Falcons’ continue their offensive success into 2017 and beyond.
What do you think of Dan Feeney? Would you be on board with Atlanta taking him at 31, depending on how the board fell? Who are some other offensive line prospects you’re interested in?