Based on sitting at number 55 for their first overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft the Falcons face stiff competition at the offensive line position, their highest area of need. Barring an unforeseen miracle, the Falcons will not be in play for any of the top tier offensive linemen. While little argument exists that the Falcons’ greatest need is at left tackle, the team could use help and depth at any position across offensive front.
Unfortunately, at least five teams ahead of the Falcons in draft order are also looking to upgrade at offensive tackle. The following teams are in need of an offensive tackle, including which player they are likely to draft according to ESPN’s Mel Kiper: Minnesota Vikings (T Matt Kalil – Southern Cal), Buffalo Bills (T Riley Reiff - Iowa), Detroit Lions (T Jonathan Martin – Stanford), Saint Louis Rams (T Mike Adams Ohio State), New York Jets (T Bobby Massie – Ole Miss).
Following are the teams ahead of the Falcons in draft order looking to upgrade at center or guard and which player they are expected to draft according to ESPN’s Mel Kiper: Cincinnati Bengals (G David DeCastro - Stanford), Cleveland Browns (G Cordy Glenn - Georgia), Baltimore Ravens (C Peter Konz – Wisconsin), Dallas Cowboys (G Kevin Zeitler – Wisconsin).
Here is a more composite look at offensive linemen likely to be taken ahead of the Falcons pick:
#3 Vikings: Kalil, OT
#10: Bills: Reiff, OT
#17: Bengals: DeCastro, OG
#22: Browns: Glenn, OG (pick from Atlanta/Julio Jones trade)
#23: Lions: Martin, OT
#29: Ravens: Konz, C
#39: Rams, Adams, OT
#45: Cowboys: Zeitler, OG
#47: Jets: Massie: OT
It is important to note that Mel Kiper is not always 100% correct with his picks so these teams may not pick these players. Secondly, teams’ plans change dramatically if the specific player they want is off the board as they may not value the next player at the position. The draft can be very fluid after the top 10 to 15 to 20 selections are made and while there is no certainty each lineman above will be gone, it is still safe to assume most, if not all, will be. Nonetheless, let’s assume the offensive linemen projected in round one fall within the round, so to look at which lineman the Falcons should strongly consider with their first pick all second round linemen projections are included.
Mike Adams, OT, Ohio State, 6'7, 323
Very good overall; Good size; Great upside – Protoype: Left Tackle
Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin, 6'4, 315
Very good overall; Physical and strong; Aggressive – Prototype: Guard
Bobby Massie, OT, Mississippi, 6'6, 325
Good overall; Good size; Moves very well – Prototype: Right Tackle/Prospect Left Tackle
Zebrie Sanders, OT, Florida State, 6'6, 307
Good overall; Exceptional pass protection skills – Prospect: Left Tackle
Kelechi Osemele, G, Iowa State, 6'5, 333
Good overall; Balanced run/pass; Aggressive style – Prospect: Right Tackle
Amini Silatolu, OG, Midwestern State, 6'3, 320
Good overall; Raw talent; Big upside – Prospect: Guard
Jeff Allen, OT, Illinois, 6'5, 315
Good overall; Good pass protector; Moves well – Prospect: Right Tackle/Project: Left tackle
Nate Potter, OT, Boise State - 6'6, 295 Good overall; Athletic; Workable size – Prospect: Right Tackle/Project: Left tackle
As the draft progresses past the Falcons second pick we should look to the following group to bolster overall depth.
Ben Jones, C, Georgia, 6'3, 316
Good overall; Well-balanced run/pass; Aggressive – Prospect: Center/Project Guard
Brandon Brooks, OG, Miami (OH), 6'5, 343
Good overall; Moves very well; Good run blocker – Prospect: Guard
David Molk, C, Michigan, 6'2, 290
Good overall; Good pass protector; Needs to get bigger and stronger – Prospect: Center
James Brown, OG, Troy, 6'3, 306
Solid overall; Athletic; Very good frame – Project: Guard
Mitchell Schwartz, OT, California, 6'6, 318
Solid overall; Good run blocker; Aggressive style – Project: Right Tackle
Matt Reynolds, OT, BYU, 6'6, 305
Solid overall; Moves well; Raw skills – Project: Right Tackle
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