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Senior Bowl recap, Day 1: Falcons zero in on guards and tight ends

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Intrepid correspondent Charles McDonald shares a conversation with Dan Quinn and observations from Mobile.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 08 CFP National Championship Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The offseason is officially underway for 30 NFL teams and unfortunately, our beloved Atlanta Falcons are among the teams trying to reload for another postseason run in 2018. The first lap of the NFL Draft circuit is the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, and I’ll have you covered with all things Falcons related for the remainder of the week.

Dan Quinn speaks

My favorite part of the week is talking to team personnel and scouts to try and get their view on the current state of their rosters. In between the North and South practices I was able to catch up with our favorite follicly-challenged coach Dan Quinn. Being familiar with his vast use of cliches and “coachspeak” I wasn’t expecting much, but he was more forthcoming than I anticipated.

“Coming down to the Senior Bowl is always a cool experience, but it’d be a bit better if weren’t here this week (i.e. preparing for the Super Bowl). Hopefully, we can find some players down here that fit the type of roster we’ve built over the past few years.” Quinn said. I noted to him that every year he’s been the head coach in Atlanta, they’ve added Senior Bowl players through the draft. Grady Jarrett, Deion Jones, and Duke Riley have each been participants in the last three Senior Bowls.

“Oh, you actually pay attention, huh?” he joked. He obviously didn’t tell me exactly which players they were scouting, but when I asked him if they planned to add a player in the draft from this year’s roster, he gave me a strong “definitely.” Looking back on their track record with Jarrett, Jones, and Riley, that should bring comfort to Falcons fans given the team’s ability to evaluate talent in person.

Areas of focus

From watching Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff at practice, it’s clear that they have their eye on interior offensive linemen and tight ends. Their attention to detail on the interior offensive linemen makes sense considering how the Falcons’ season ended and the unclear future of left guard Andy Levitre as he enters his age 32 season.

Specifically, Georgia offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn was a clear favorite of Quinn today at practice. Wynn played left tackle at Georgia, but considering his measurables today (6’2”, 308) he’s a prime candidate to move inside at the next level. Georgia ran a mix of zone and power blocking as star running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel routinely trampled opponents throughout the 2017 season. Wynn was a huge part of their success in the Rose Bowl a few weeks ago as he blew open hole after hole on the way to 317 rushing yards on just 34 carries. He’d be a seamless transition to offensive guard in the Falcons’ scheme. It’s too early to say where he’s going to be drafted, but he had a rock star start to the week.

Additional Notes

  • Falcons fans looking for a long term answer at defensive tackle next to Grady Jarrett will be a bit disappointed in the crop of interior defensive linemen this week. Nathan Shepherd from Fort Hays State had a decent day of practice, which will help him out since Fort Hays State is a Division II school.
  • There are a handful of interesting tight end prospects here. Atlanta will be looking for a number two tight end to pair with Austin Hooper for the long term. These are the guys to keep an eye on.

    Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State
    Ian Thomas, Indiana
    Mike Gesicki, Penn State
    Troy Fumagali, Wisconsin