UPDATE: The NFL Combine is here! Today marks the on-field workouts for the OL and the RBs.
The 2019 NFL Combine is fast approaching, with on-field workouts starting on Friday, March 1st for the offensive line and running backs. With that in mind, it’s time to start breaking down the top prospects to watch for the Falcons at every position. Today’s breakdown concerns the interior offensive line, including centers and guards. It’s one of the biggest needs for Atlanta, and I’d expect the team to invest at least one pick into the position in the 2019 NFL Draft.
If you’d like to check out the other prospect previews, you can find them below:
Without further adieu, here are some of top the C/G prospects to watch for the Falcons at the NFL Combine.
C/G Garrett Bradbury, NC State
Listed Size: 6’3, 300
Bradbury is one of the top interior offensive linemen in the 2019 class, and without a doubt the best center. He’s an elite athlete for an offensive lineman, with rare mobility and body control. Bradbury also possesses quality functional strength and impressive football IQ. He’s without a doubt a better fit in a zone blocking scheme that will take full advantage of his gifts in space, but Bradbury is good enough to succeed anywhere.
He’s spent seasons at left guard and most recently at center, showing off his versatility and ability to play all over the offensive line. For the Falcons, Bradbury could step in at guard immediately while also providing flexibility to move back to center when Alex Mack eventually decides to retire. His stock is only slightly lower than Chris Lindstrom’s, but Bradbury has an outside shot at making it to pick 45 due to being a better fit in a specific scheme.
G Nate Davis, NC Charlotte
Listed Size: 6’3, 305
If the Falcons elect to wait on guard or decide to double-dip and take another player on Day 3, NC-Charlotte standout Nate Davis could be an intriguing option. Those looking for Atlanta to add more power on the inside will love Davis’ physical run blocking ability. While he’s not an ideal athlete for the zone blocking scheme, he’s functional enough in this area to still fit.
Davis has a lot of technique issues to clear up, particularly in pass protection. He’s not a player I’d want to see starting in his rookie year, but if he can continue to improve technically and refine his movement skills, Davis could be a good value as a high-end backup or even potential starter down the road.
C/G Michael Deiter, Wisconsin
Listed Size: 6’5, 322
There seems to be a logjam of quality interior offensive linemen right in that Day 2 range, which could work out nicely for the Falcons. Michael Deiter from Wisconsin is another name that could be a favorite among those hoping for Atlanta to add size to their line. Now, I know some fans will take issue with Deiter because he played at Wisconsin and everyone remembers Peter Konz, but let’s just get this out of the way: “school scouting” is dumb. At 6’5, 322, Deiter would immediately become the largest lineman on the roster in terms of weight. That doesn’t mean much on its own, but Deiter also showcases a strong anchor and plays with a physical mean streak in the run game.
Deiter’s high weight relative to most zone-scheme guards might make you assume he’s not a great athlete, but you’d be wrong. He’s surprisingly agile and smooth in his movements, with plenty of speed and balance to make plays in space. Despite his height, however, Deiter lacks ideal length—which is why he’s a much better fit on the interior in the NFL. Still, he’s a scheme-diverse player with quality technique, and should become an immediate starter for a team like the Falcons.
C Lamont Gaillard, Georgia
Listed Size: 6’2, 305
Gaillard is a familiar name for Georgia fans, as he’s been a stalwart on the interior of the offensive line for several seasons. A team captain and a player with a ton of competitive fire, Gaillard could be a Day 3 option for the Falcons if they’re looking to add depth behind Alex Mack. I had Atlanta taking Gaillard in my second mock draft, and here’s what I had to say about him:
I haven’t watched much of Gaillard outside of live viewing, but the Falcons were rumored to have talked with him quite a bit at the East-West Shrine Game. Gaillard is a bit on the small side at 6’2, 308, but he’s got a lot of experience and would be a natural fit in a zone blocking scheme. Athletically and technically Gaillard still has a lot of development to do, but the Falcons have time to work with him. He could begin his career as a backup behind Alex Mack and potentially take over in a few seasons.
C/G Elgton Jenkins, Mississippi State
Listed Size: 6’4, 305
Mississippi State’s Elgton Jenkins is thought by many to be in the top-5 interior offensive line prospects for the 2019 class, but...I’m not sure I see it. He’s got great size at 6’4, 305 and possesses excellent athletic traits that would make him an ideal fit in a zone blocking scheme. Jenkins also has a very good football IQ and has shown off impressive versatility, playing at T, G, and C throughout his college career. At times, he’s looked like he has the strength to go toe-to-toe with NFL power.
But the biggest issue for me with Jenkins is that I just don’t see the competitive fire. He lacks that physicality and aggression that you love to see from your offensive linemen, and it just wasn’t there consistently. I expect Jenkins to test well at the Combine, and he should perform well in the interviews. If he can add that “want-to” to his game, I think Jenkins could be a high-level NFL starter at either C or G. But I’m not sure that’s something that you can teach, and his current Day 2 price tag is a little too rich to take that gamble in my opinion.
G Chris Lindstrom, Boston College
Listed Size: 6’3, 307
The top guard prospect in the 2019 draft class (if you don’t count Jonah Williams or Cody Ford as guards, I suppose), Boston College’s Chris Lindstrom looks the part of a high-level plug-and-play starter at either guard spot. He’s scheme-versatile, with enough power to play in a gap system and plenty of athleticism to thrive in zone. Lindstrom is technically proficient and doesn’t have many holes in his game, making him a tempting target for the Falcons.
Due to positional value, it’s very unlikely the Falcons would go after Lindstrom with their first round pick. However, Lindstrom could go as early as 18 to the Vikings, and there are plenty of other landing spots before Atlanta picks again at 45. Unless the Falcons plan to trade up into the early second, I don’t think there’s much chance of Lindstrom ending up here.
C/G Erik McCoy, Texas A&M
Listed Size: 6’4, 315
Another quality Day 2 interior offensive lineman, Texas A&M’s Erik McCoy is a versatile interior player with experience at both center and guard. If Atlanta misses out on their top choices in Lindstrom and Bradbury, McCoy will almost certainly be available at pick 45—and perhaps even into the third round. I mocked McCoy to Atlanta in my most recent mock draft, and here’s what I had to say about the talented C/G:
Coupling a sizable 6’3, 310 frame with excellent athletic ability, McCoy is a natural fit for the Falcons’ zone blocking scheme. He’s also got plenty of physicality to match those movement skills, making him a dynamic run blocker that is just as dangerous with his power. McCoy’s strength makes him difficult to move in pass protection, although his technique in that area still needs refinement.
C/G Javon Patterson, Mississippi
Listed Size: 6’3, 308
Another Day 3 option for the Falcons if they’re looking to add depth along the interior, Mississippi’s Javon Patterson is a bit of an under-the-radar prospect that hasn’t generated much buzz so far. I first noticed Patterson when watching Greg Little, and his mobility on the interior really stood out on tape. Patterson is an intriguing depth option due to his versatility—he’s spent time at RG, LG, and C throughout his college career.
That type of positional flexibility is very valuable for a backup interior OL, and I think Patterson may have eventual starting upside in a zone blocking system. Patterson lacks a prototypical frame and doesn’t have great strength, but you can’t teach his natural athletic gifts. With some time in an NFL strength training program, Patterson could be a quality reserve or even a possible starter.
C/G Ross Pierschbacher, Alabama
Listed Size: 6’4, 297
If the Falcons elect to wait until later on Day 2—or perhaps even early Day 3—to draft a guard, someone like Alabama’s Ross Pierschbacher could be someone that could step in and start as a rookie at a relatively low price tag. Athletically and technically, Pierschbacher is quite good. He has experience at all three interior line positions and has cut his teeth against the top competition in college football.
I’m just not sure that Pierschbacher is anything more than an average starter at best at the NFL level. He’s got a solid frame, but his low weight and merely average power at the point of attack are concerns. Still, you aren’t getting any perfect prospects in the 3rd-4th round range, and Pierschbacher could be one of the safest options of the bunch to start early in his NFL career.
G Dru Samia, Oklahoma
Listed Size: 6’4, 296
Oklahoma’s Dru Samia is a bit of an under-the-radar prospect, but don’t let that fool you. The scouts over at The Draft Network, who are doing some great work this season, are pretty high on him—and I’m inclined to agree with them. After doing some digging into his tape, I think he’s an ideal 3rd-4th round pick for the Falcons. I had Atlanta drafting Samia in the fourth round of my third mock draft, and here’s my take on his skillset:
Samia looks the part of an elite athlete at guard that projects best to a zone blocking team in the NFL. Concerns about his size—he’s 6’5 but only listed at 297 pounds—are real, but Samia has shown excellent technique and ability to anchor that offset those issues. With his frame, you’d think he might be able to bulk up a little more, too. If he lasts until Day 3, he’s a risk worth taking for the Falcons—particularly if they add another guard in free agency.
What are your thoughts on this year’s crop of interior offensive lineman? Who are your top choices for the Falcons in the 2019 NFL Draft? Are there any players that I missed who you’ll be watching closely on Friday?