When the 2017 Falcons season ended and we started thinking about how the team was likely to upgrade its roster, guard was a natural position to point to. I thought—and still think, to some extent--that the Falcons might roll on with Andy Levitre and Wes Schweitzer as their starters in 2018. It is increasingly evident after hearing from the Falcons, however, that they’re not going to stand pat at the position.
Atlanta seems exceedingly likely to add a guard in this class, likely either a Day 2 or Day 3 selection, in an effort to give Schweitzer competition this year and give them another long-term starting option at minimum. The Falcons very obviously need a defensive tackle, tight end, and guard above all else—and arguably a wide receiver in there, too—and we got a good look at this crop of guards on Friday. Also some tackles, including
Set aside college tape, which will obviously be the deciding factor for who the team takes, and look just at Combine performances. Who was up, and who was down after yesterday, especially for the Falcons?
James Daniels, Guard/Center, Iowa
Daniels may very well go in the first round, and he may very well wind up a Falcon. I’ve long believed Atlanta will end up going defensive tackle first, but you’d be hard-pressed to argue that the selection of Daniels would be a disappointment.
On Friday, Daniels finished with one of the ten fastest three cone times by an offensive lineman in the last decade-plus. That only helps after he put an impressive season on tape, and his strength, athleticism, and obvious ability look like they’d make him a day one starter for any team lucky enough to get him. He did nothing to dissuade a team like the Falcons from selecting him, and if anything, he slightly bolstered his case with Thomas Dimitroff and company, who still do love three cone times.
James Daniels continues to impress. https://t.co/DDV5TkKpxl— Kevin Knight (@FalcoholicKevin) March 2, 2018
Wyatt Teller, Guard, Virginia
Teller had himself a day at the Combine. He finished tops among all guards in the broad jump, a particularly critical piece of the athletic evaluation portfolio for the Falcons and their explosiveness-prizing brain trust, and was extremely impressive in the bench press, as well. Teller had an excellent 2017 season in college and would likely to be a much more buzzed-about prospect if he wasn’t stuck in this year’s strong crop. Chances are he’ll start getting more attention from draftniks, if not teams, after yesterday.
Tyrell Crosby, Tackle, Oregon
The Falcons should not entirely rule out acquiring a tackle in this year’s class, and they already spent time with Army’s Brett Toth at the Senior Bowl and Oregon’s Tyrell Crosby yesterday. Crosby is an athletic tackle who didn’t surrender a sack last year, measured impressively at the Combine, and ran an impressive 40 yard dash. He also turned in a solid enough performance in the broad jump. There’s little question he’s got himself well-positioned to enter the league as a quality swing tackle who goes in the middle rounds of this draft, at the latest, and more than a few teams are interested him as a long-term right tackle option. That could include Atlanta.
Orlando Brown, Tackle, Oklahoma
Brown had a disastrous day at the Combine. While teams shouldn’t put all their eggs into the drill basket with players, Brown was unimpressive in his 40 yard dash, downright lousy in his vertical, and only managed 14.5 bench press reps, all of which put him down near the bottom of his position group at the Combine. He was a good player in college, but his athletic limitations are going to scare some teams away, and I can’t imagine the Falcons will even look his way unless his stock goes into freefall.
Colby Gossett, Guard, Appalachian State
This is my dark horse pick for the Falcons at the guard position. Gossett finished fourth in the bench press, ran a solid if unspectacular 40, and generally looked like a strong, quality athlete in his Combine testing. He’s a well-regarded potential guard in a zone blocking scheme like the Falcons run, and he’s probably going to be a second day selection.
So what is he doing here? Gossett’s broad jump was one of the least impressive of the Combine at his position group, and the Falcons have not made a recent habit of drafting players who don’t impress in that drill. It’s unlikely to scare them away from Gossett if they really like him, and I suspect they do, but he’s not moving up the team’s list with that result.
ICYMI: Broad jumps for interior OL:— Aaron Freeman (@falcfans) March 2, 2018
Wyatt Teller 114"
Braden Smith 113"
Scott Quessenberry 111"
James Daniels 108"
Austin Corbett 106"
Quenton Nelson 105"
Mason Cole 104"
Will Hernandez 104"
Skyler Phillips 104"
Colby Gossett 103"
Every drafted #Falcons OL since 2015 hit 105"+
Billy Price, Center/Guard, Ohio State
Price was considered by many to be the top draft-eligible center in this class, though he certainly can play guard as well. A torn pectoral while doing bench press at the Combine is going to some shine off his star, and that probably means he’ll fall into the mid-to-late second round or even into the third round. If the Falcons like him, that might be good news for them, and Price is expected to be able to play in 2018 regardless. Price would be an interesting long-term option at center with #elite starter Alex Mack getting older.
Isaiah Wynn, Guard/Tackle, Georgia
Wynn is a consensus top pick in the NFL Draft, so the fact that he didn’t really participate in drills at the Combine is not going to exactly torpedo his stock, especially since he’s set to participate in Georgia’s Pro Day in the near future. It just ensures he won’t do anything further to lift himself past the likes of Daniels until then. Wynn is still very much in play for a first round selection himself, and his easy excellence in the Senior Bowl and Georgia ties have a lot of Falcons fans salivating over him.
Frank Ragnow, Center/Guard, Arkansas
Ragnow is yet another strong player in a very good class of interior linemen, but he too did not participate
Ultimately, figuring out who the Falcons will end up with in late April now is a bit like trying to assemble Ikea furniture in a pitch black room: You can make an educated guess about what you’re doing, but when the lights come on you’ll probably be surprised by what you see. Yet we can make some educated guesses, even so.
The Falcons have shown strong early interest in Daniels, a player who could go in the first couple of rounds, could be an immediate starter at guard, and could someday take over at center. He’s a strong contender, I think, to be the team’s next right guard if he’s still there in the second round. If he’s not, fallback options like Colby Gossett, Austin Corbett, and Braden Smith should be there later, and would at least be able to compete with Wes Schweitzer for the right guard gig in 2018 and provide valuable depth if they lost out. I don’t think you’ll ultimately see the Falcons address guard in the first round, which means Isaiah Wynn is probably not going to be the selection, barring a surprising drop in his stock in the run-up to the 2018 NFL Draft.
Still, we know a little more about these players than we did two days ago, and it’s a mortal lock the Falcons will wind up grabbing a guard in this class. Which one do you think Atlanta winds up with?