Are you ready for more Falcons draft visit and interest news? Sure you are!
This next crop of reports show the Falcons focusing in on a curious position on the roster: tight end. Right now, the team has Austin Hooper heading into his third season, new free agent Logan Paulsen and the developing Eric Saubert. But, the team is at least checking in on potential guys to join that group.
Draft Analyst’s Troy Pauline (via Falcfans) reports that the Falcons hosted Indiana TE Ian Thomas for a visit.
The word on Thomas from most is that he’ll need time before he’s NFL-ready, but he could be the best tight end from this year’s class two or three years from now. Thomas has already had visits with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons as well as workouts with the Philadelphia Eagles and Tennessee Titans.
NFL insider Aaron Wilson also reports the team has shown interest in Minnesota TE Nate Wozniak.
Let’s start with Thomas, because this one is quite interesting. Pauline thinks Thomas is the first guy off the board in the second wave of tight ends after top prospects like Hayden Hurst (who the Falcons met with at the combine), Dallas Goedert and Mike Gesicki are all selected.
If that holds, Thomas could be in play for the team’s second or third round pick. Taking an Indiana offensive guy in the third round has worked for Atlanta in the past with Tevin Coleman, but what would Thomas bring to the table if taken? NFL draft expert Lance Zierlein gives us the rundown.
Thomas reminds me of Jermaine Gresham when he came out of Oklahoma, not the version you see today. Like Gresham, Thomas has the bend and “man strength” to become a successful in-line blocker if he improves his hand placement and grit. His production is lacking due to shorter two-year run at Indiana and a senior season filled with injuries, but it is easy to see NFL ability that just needs coaching and more experience. Thomas is an ascending combination tight end with an ability to become a good NFL starter who can be flexed around the field.
So, it really does sound like Thomas is perfect for what Atlanta needs in a tight end. Hooper still is going to deservedly get another year to prove he can be the starter (he’s been training with Matt Ryan this offseason), and Thomas could grow behind Hooper and Paulsen and get more opportunities when he’s ready for them. Having Paulsen around will be good for all of Atlanta’s current and future young tight ends, as the former is a veteran mind who knows what it takes to succeed at the position.
Zierlein concurs with Pauline about Thomas’ draft status, so he could be the next offensive weapon to join Atlanta’s arsenal. He’s certainly a guy that could factor in to that second or third pick.
As for Wozniak, he sounds more like the seventh-round, UDFA type, according to Pauline.
Wozniak is an impressive-looking specimen who has flashed ability the past two seasons and works to get as much as possible from that ability. He can line up as a blocking tight end or third offensive tackle in goal line and short-yardage situations if he completes his game.
The big advantage to Wozniak is that he’s 6’10”, making him sort of like Levine Toilolo on steroids. Not literal steroids.
Thomas is the headliner here, and him visiting with the team as one of their official visits is certainly something to monitor when the second and third rounds roll around. As for Wozniak, watch his name when the seventh round rolls around, or when the UDFAs start to sign.