Reviewing the Atlanta Falcons' 5 Biggest Scouting Combine Takeaways
The Atlanta Falcons got to view the wares of plenty of draft hopefuls at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine. With more candidates than a local school board election, the Falcons front office searched for any sign of greatness not uncovered by exhaustive film study.
Team Needs Versus Value
With so much to see, the Falcons must make the most of every workout. Placing a value on a player is a combination of skill, team need and round taken. Of course, this value is viewed through the prism of Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith.
There were many players already on the Falcons radar. Some became more enticing. Some would seem more questionable.
Here are five things the Falcons should have gleaned from the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine....
Note: All data and stats collected via NFL.com
5. Offensive Linemen Keep Getting More Athletic
Terron Armstead shattered the image of the lumbering offensive lineman with his 4.71 40-yard dash. Possibly more eye-opening is that Oklahoma lineman Lane Johnson was a mere 0.01 seconds behind him.
UCLA offensive lineman Jeff Baca did his part as well. Baca showed that linemen are growing more agile as well. Baca posted a 7.26 in the three-cone drill and a 4.44 in the 20-yard shuttle.
To put this in perspective, Baca would have ranked in the top 10 for tight ends or defensive ends. And Baca could possibly be an undrafted free agent.
4. Margus Hunt Proves to Be a Gamble
Margus Hunt has been intriguing prospect for the Falcons. The 25-year-old defensive end plays like a madman. His strength and straight-line speed make him a tempting choice as a late first-round pick.
Hunt's initial workouts were extremely impressive. Hunt clocked a 4.60 40-yard dash and a positional-best 38 reps on the bench press.
The Fast and the Fluid
Hunt's impressive numbers started to decline when a change of direction was required. His 7.07 in the three-cone drill was merely above average. His 4.51 in the 20-yard shuttle was only good enough for 17th amongst defensive linemen. This is a blow to Hunt's aura of versatility. The Falcons require a defensive end to play all over the field. If Hunt is unable to move downfield when required, the Falcons might hunt for someone else.
3. Zaviar Gooden Steps Up
Zaviar Gooden might not be a household name, but he had one of the best showings at the combine.
As a converted safety, Gooden is a solid tackler with good speed, so his versatility should attract creative defensive coordinators like Mike Nolan.
He entered the combine looking like a third or fourth-round selection.
A Very Good-en Day
Gooden's combine performance was stellar. He finished in the top five for his position in six out of seven events. His 34.0 vertical jump was only good enough for sixth.
Gooden shows he has all the physical tools to be a solid third or fourth-round choice. It will be up to the Falcons front office to decide if he has the instincts to back that up.
2. Late-Round Tight Ends Lead the Way
Prior to the combine, there had been plenty of debate as to where the Falcons might select a tight end in the 2013 draft.
The theory that the Falcons might take Tyler Eifert in the first round might have to be reworked.
Jake Stoneburner of Ohio State and Michael Williams of Alabama proved their measurables can match up with almost any tight end. This is despite both tight ends might be available as late as the seventh round.
Williams consistently placed in the top five of the workouts he participated in. His worst showing might also be the most troubling, though. Williams only completed 13 reps on the bench press. Not exactly a strong showing, especially when 14 other tight ends completed more.
Stoneburner might have been the most impressive tight end considering value. Stoneburner should be available in the sixth or seventh round, yet he compares favorably to potential first-rounder Tyler Eifert.
Stoneburner posted faster times than Eifert in the 40-yard dash, 20-yard shuttle and 60-yard shuttle. The film says that Stoneburner is a far more talented player than he is given credit for. The Falcons might want to hope no one else keys in on Stoneburner earlier than the sixth round.
1. Christine Michael Is a Running Back to Watch
Christine Michael arrived at the combine hoping to rise from his middle-of-the-pack status.
He might have accomplished that.
Michael had a rather strong showing at the East-West Shrine Game earlier this year. This included a classy move of bringing the entire offensive line water after Michael scored a touchdown. But Michael needed a strong showing at the combine to continue that momentum.
Top 10 All-Around
Michael's workouts proved he definitely has the athleticism to compete with any running back in the draft. His scores all fell within the top 10 running backs. The 5'10", 220-pound running back had eye-opening times in the three-cone drill (6.69) and 20-yard shuttle (4.02). These drills test the ability to change direction as well as speed. Michael was the fastest in both drills.
The vertical jump might seem like an unimportant drill for a running back, so Michael's 43.0 inches might go overlooked by some scouts. This could be a key one for the Falcons front office. Michael has exhibited decent hands in college. Knowing that Matt Ryan will throw to any eligible receiver, Michael's ability to go for a jump ball might tip the scales in his favor on draft day.