2012 NFL Draft Quick Review: Atlanta Falcons Select Jonathan Massaquoi with 164th Pick

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With their second selection of the fifth round the Atlanta Falcons selected defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi of Troy. On the surface this pick made a lot more sense than the previous pick of Bradie Ewing. The Falcons have a lot of defensive ends on the roster but outside of John Abraham there is nobody who can consistently get after the quarterback.

Optimum Scouting had him listed as the eleventh overall defensive end with a fourth round draft grade. It's interesting to note that they only had him one spot lower than Bruce Irvin, who the Seattle Seahawks took in the first round. Optimum Scouting compares him to Jason Babin of the Philadelphia Eagles (a guy who has 48 sacks in his eight year career with 30 of them coming over the last two years).

Here is the summary from Optimum Scouting's scouting report:

Massaquoi is a unique athlete, undersized for a defensive end, who compensates with explosiveness off the ball, good straight-line speed, and closing burst. He lacks the girth to hold his position at the line, and he's a step behind, when asked to re-direct motion, but, he does display excellent balance, and better than average coordination and all-around athleticism. He engages opponents, creating initial power through body acceleration, but cannot follow it with sustained leg drive. He lacks the instincts to recognize plays and locate the ball quickly, and is often fooled by misdirection. In pursuit, he closes quickly, but, at times, shows less than fully committed resolve on plays when a tackle isn't imminent. Massaquoi, who can be a forceful tackler, is also a sure, wrap-up take-down artist, with the arm length and huge hands to create a big tackling radius.

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But, he makes his mark as a pass rusher, where he's a big play specialist and a difference maker. He utilizes first rate speed, balance, and acceleration coming off the edge. He also mixes in a club move, a rip back inside, and a head-on bull-rush, all of which are effective when he maintains proper leverage, which he struggles with at times. Massaquoi's lack of lower body strength makes him a below average run defender, and, even in instances where he successfully fends of the initial block, eventually he succumbs, and relinquishes position. He does show promise in coverage, and could develop here as an outside linebacker.

At the NFL level, he could marginally succeed as a 4-3 defensive end in a Wide-9 scheme, where he could use his speed and athleticism to get up-field and press the edge, but his more likely future is in converting to 3-4 outside linebacker, where he won't have to fight through bigger bodies inside. Overall, he's still raw, and will have to develop while cutting his teeth at the next level. At worst, he'll be a dynamic edge rusher, and will have value to teams in that role. As such, Massaquoi should be selected in the early part of Round 3.

Overall, I really like this pick. It addresses a need and Massaquoi has the ability to be a very strong pass rusher. He probably won't make an immediate impact but he has the ability to do some damage down the road.

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