The Atlanta Falcons are in the midst of a bevy of workouts, meetings and general scouting leading up to the big draft shebang at the month’s close.
After adding G Brandon Fusco to be the presumptive starter at right guard, and seeing where the team stands in its offensive line group, one presumed that they’d be set at the position.
Well, after looking over the list of Falcons draft interests, you can see a recurring theme: they’re interested in this year’s offensive linemen.
Just in the last 24 hours, we’ve seen the team reported to have workouts with Maine G Jamil Demby, and TCU C Patrick Morris. The former is projected by NFL’s Lance Zierlein to be a potential fourth round prospect, while the latter has been ranked as Mel Kiper’s tenth-best center in the draft (so, likely a late-rounder or a UDFA).
Dave Choate here at The Falcoholic has a running list of prospects and FalcFans’ Aaron Freeman has his customary good database of what the team is up to, and you can see a trend in these. So far, they’ve had private workouts with Florida State T Rick Leonard, Fordham C Anthony Coyle, West Georgia C Harley Vaughn, which all contribute to the team’s top-30 visits. They worked out C Tejen Koroma at BYU’s campus.
They’ve had reported interest and other meetings with UCLA T Kolton Miller, Auburn G Braden Smith, Auburn C Austin Golson and Iowa G/C James Daniels. Miller and Daniels are first-round prospects (though, the Daniels meeting did come before Fusco signed, for what it’s worth). They also have checked in on Oregon T Tyrell Crosby, North Carolina A&T Brandon Parker and Army T Brett Toth at various points.
So, with all those names, it’s hard not to think we might have another offensive lineman taken in the draft here soon. That goes against a lot of what I’ve been thinking with this upcoming class, but they’re putting in the groundwork for at least a later-round pick.
The Falcons offensive line is stacked at the moment with a lot of names, and talent. Jake Matthews, Alex Mack, Ryan Schraeder and Andy Levitre are all de-facto starters, and Fusco looks to be the new right guard, even if the team isn’t saying it outright.
Ben Garland is the main depth face, and is going to make a pretty penny for his services. Wes Schweitzer has played a full season as a starter at right guard and right now makes for excellent depth. The team’s 2018 fifth-rounder is invested in swing tackle Ty Sambrailo, and other reserve tackle Austin Pasztor (who has starting experience) re-signed with the team last month on a one-year deal.
And, don’t forget about the team’s 2017 fourth-round G Sean Harlow, an unknown commodity who spent the season in the Falcons’ developmental program, or G Jamil Douglas, who once took starting reps for the Patriots. Practice squad T Daniel Brunskill also came back on a futures deal.
So, right now, that’s twelve folks in tow, not counting any draft picks or UDFAs. You can expect anywhere from eight to 10 will be kept around for the season. So, right now, if you factor in a draft pick, who would be a lock to make the roster if not taken in rounds six or seven, who are the odd men out?
It’s hard to say at the moment, because all of the guys above can make a case to stick around. But, from the looks of it, the team is going to have to make some tough decisions for who stays and who goes in this lineup. Do keep in mind that Levitre is a free agent after 2018, and is no guarantee to return. The team might be trying to find his successor sooner than later. Mack figures to play through his deal, as talented and as important as he is, but he’s in his 30s, and carries a large cap number. Ditto Schraeder, who turns 30 in May.
As for now, the Falcons are doing their research on plenty of offensive linemen leading up to the draft, bucking the expectation by some (myself included) that they’ll leave that position be when it comes to allotting picks. This draft process continues to be hard to peg for exactly where it’ll go for the Falcons.