The Falcons clearly have a big need at Left Tackle. One could argue that they have solidified the C position for the next 10 years, and that there is substantial depth competing at the Right Guard position. I wouldn’t say that the interior of the O-line is solidly set, but I think we have seen about all the Falcons can or are willing to do there this offseason. We will probably have to wait until next year to draft another RG if none of these guys pulls it off.
So we need to look at the LT position, and what exactly Thomas Dimitroff was thinking in drafting Holmes there. Holmes played LT exclusively for a Southern Miss team that threw the heck out of the football in Conference USA. He has a lot of experience at the position. Many scouts, analysts, writers, and other pundits see the tenacity that he brings to the game, and a grinder type of attitude that is necessary to compete on the offensive line. He moves his feet well to mirror quick rushers, and generally gets out well to block defensive ends. Holmes is also widely regarded as a very humble guy who works hard and is always trying to get better and would be a good guy in the locker room. He was a team captain at Southern Miss.
I have also heard a lot of not so good things. I’ve read where several scouts say that Holmes is a ‘waist bender’, which is a trait that throws off balance especially against defensive linemen with greater talent. He has a tendency to stop moving his feet once he makes contact in the block; that’s fine in pass protection, but is absolutely horrible in run-blocking. To show you just how puzzling this pick is, ESPN’s Todd McShay openly questions Thomas Dimitroff’s selection of Holmes. To an extent, I have a multitude of questions as well. It is not looking like Holmes is going to come in and compete for the starting job, so why did we use a 3rd round pick on him? Could we not have drafted Florida State’s Zebrie Sanders, another player with experience at both tackle positions who is also very strong in pass protection who could come in and compete with Baker and Svitek right away? I understand that Holmes has some upside because he is very tall and weighs around 330 lbs. But size alone does not a left tackle make.
What could the Falcon’s plans for Holmes be? Is he going to be a solid backup for years to come, or could he eventually be a starter at one of the positions? Tyson Clabo has a few very good seasons left, but we have greater needs in the here and now than to start thinking about a contingency plan at RT. Unless Holmes comes in, sets the world on fire in training camp, we will probably still be looking for a franchise LT to keep Ryan clean and standing in the pocket. Perhaps I’m overreacting to the pick. But as a fan and consumer of the product that the Falcons put on the field, I really want to know why the leadership of this team selected Holmes when there were still other more quality options on the board. I wish the Falcons would issue a statement to us fans detailing exactly their reasoning behind drafting Holmes and what their future plans for him are, but only time will answer those things.