"From The Birds Nest" is my weekly article focusing on the upcoming NFL Draft along with the potential signing of free agents. Since the combine recently ended this past week I'd like to start out our first one as a post combine focus on Robert Turbin, running back out of Utah State, and Cam Johnson a defensive end out of Virginia.
Let's start out with Robert Turbin. Turbin is a large framed power back. Many of you may know him from the past year when Utah State nearly pulled an upset over Auburn. He got only 77 yards off 22 carries in that game, but proceeded to compile 5 straight weeks of 100+ rushing yards, before having that streak broken by Hawaii. Many were surprised when he announced that he would declare for this year's draft.
Turbin came into the NFL Scouting Combine needing a good performance to elevate him into an early day three or late day two pick. Turbin surprised many by running a 4.47 40 time at the combine at 225 lbs. He then proceeded to weave his way through bag drills showing good burst and change of pace skills. He is also built like a tank from the waist up, he looked like a mountain at the combine, and will only get stronger within an NFL training regiment. He didn't exactly blow the door off the combine but in my opinion he did a good enough job to get himself into the late 3rd round, right where the Falcons are picking.
Turbin would make a great addition to a Falcons RB stable that has seen it's featured RB slowed down, and it's #2 in Jason Snelling becoming a free agent this year. Turbin presents a good combination of power and speed along with natural vision and quickness for his size. Could he be a successor to Michael Turner for the Falcons? The only main concerns are with his knee. He has had issues two straight years in college. If he could stay healthy he could be a valuable asset for Matt Ryan and the rest of the Falcons offense.
Cam Johnson was a guy I have had my eye on for quite a while. Despite not racking up great sack numbers at UVA (4 sacks this past season) he has shown the tools necessary to succeed in the NFL. He possesses a great work ethic along with a strong bull rush.
Going into the Senior Bowl; Johnson was projected as a 3rd or 4th round pick. At the Senior Bowl he showed great quickness and movement in space and a speed rush that many scouts had been wanting to see him develop. Johnson had a very impressive week of practice and was moved into the late 2nd- early 3rd by most draftniks.
At the Scouting Combine, Johnson did a great job in the the vertical and 40, recording a 35'' vertical and a 4.75 40, which is impressive for his size and the type of player he is. He showed great feet movement throughout the bag drills along with natural balance and a good point of attack.
Cam Johnson would be an excellent addition to a fledgling defensive line of Atlanta. Especially in light of the news that the Falcons are going to allow longtime DE John Abraham to test the FA market. Johnson also possess great versatility as he could potentially move to OLB in nickel packages for rushing.
Get more great Atlanta Falcons news and analysis over at The Grits Blitz.