If you have paid close attention to the Atlanta Falcons under General Manager Thomas Dimitroff, you will know that there is significant importance in the annual Senior Bowl played every January in Mobile, Alabama on NFL Network.
From Deion Jones to Justin Hardy to Desmond Trufant to Robert Alford, the Senior Bowl has been a key hub for the Falcons to hone in on a player or two and add some experience and leadership to their roster. Day 1 of the 2019 Senior Bowl week is in the books, so let’s take a look at a few prospects who stood out on the initial day.
DE Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
We start off with one of my favorite prospects in the entire 2019 NFL Draft. Sweat was already known as an athletic marvel before Senior Bowl week kicked off. So what Sweat utilized the Senior Bowl stage for at this point was to show off his rocked-up physique at 6’6 and 252 pounds with an impressive arm length at 35 5/8 inches.
In 1-on-1 drills, Sweat displayed his contagious motor and his superb strength to embarrass a particular lineman on the day:
Sweat checked a few boxes on the day, but of course, a lot is to still be evaluated when it comes to how he performs in live action. But so far, so good for one of the best pass rushers in the entire draft and a possible target at 14th overall for the Falcons.
CB Isaiah Johnson, Houston
Cornerback may not be one of the top positions for the Falcons in this draft, but it is one to keep an eye on, especially in the middle rounds and later. The team may see some movement this offseason at corner and a hole may be created because of it.
So what is intriguing about Johnson is first and foremost his size, at 6’2 and 207 pounds with solid length. Johnson has only been playing cornerback for two seasons at the University of Houston after entering the program as a wide receiver. That rawness in his game was on display at times, especially when he was lined up against South Carolina WR Deebo Samuel. However, his experience as a receiver aided his play during the practice and Johnson has enough ability right now to be a 4th CB for the Falcons and develop into a starter with patience.
G Chris Lindstrom, Boston College
Everybody was well aware of the elite status of last year’s first round pick Quenton Nelson of the Indianapolis Colts. The stout interior offensive linemen was one of the best selections in the entire draft and bolstered their offensive line.
The Falcons may be in need of some reinforcements on the interior of their offensive line and one prospect who can be a great shot in the arm is Boston College’s Chris Lindstrom. On Day 1 of practice at the Senior Bowl, Lindstrom demonstrated the ability to anchor against defensive linemen who attempted to overpower and drive. Don’t be surprised if Lindstrom is one of the strongest offensive linemen in the entire draft, even with his 303-pound frame.
OT Kaleb McGary, Washington
Trust me when I say that the Falcons will have a fairly talented pool of offensive linemen to choose from in this draft. It is quite possible they address the guard and right tackle position and McGary fits the bill at 6’6 and 321 pounds with big 10 2/8 inch hands.
On occasion throughout the day, McGary was seen mauling defensive ends in 1-on-1 drills including Boston College’s Zach Allen, and pancaking a few defenders here and there. On film, McGary seen as a physical blocker, and that was definitely the case once again.
WR Terry McLaurin, Ohio State
Here is an interesting prospect that was not mentioned quite often by myself and for a few reasons. For one, wide receiver is also not a huge need for the Falcons, but one of consideration based on the possibility of veteran receiver Justin Hardy hitting free agency. It’s a possibility that the Falcons will take a late flyer on a receiver on Day 3 of the draft and if they do, McLaurin is intriguing.
McLaurin showed off some speed that did not necessarily show on tape at times and hit 22 mph at one point during the practice. McLaurin showed some smoothness in his route running and his footwork looks very, very polished.
This past season at Ohio State, McLaurin averaged 20 yards per reception and hauled in 11 touchdown receptions on just 35 catches. With a new offensive coordinator in Dirk Koetter that will almost certainly attack defenses vertically, a refined route runner with sneaky good speed can capture the Falcons’ eye to round out their receiving corps.