Atlanta Falcons: 2016 Senior Bowl takeaways
The 2015 Reese’s Senior Bowl is now complete. As reported several days ago, Atlanta Falcons’ head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff had several prospects on their radar that took the field in Mobile. Some positions of note were the defensive end spot, wide receiver, linebacker and safety. Some key targets stood out and other ones who could be on the Falcons radar come draft day made some plays as well. Let’s dive in to some Senior Bowl notes.
Lukewarm Showing For Braxton Miller
Ohio State wide receiver Braxton Miller walked away from practice this week as one of the hottest names in the Senior Bowl. He displayed during the week in practice a frame with NFL size (6’1 204 lbs), plenty of speed and intrigue. Although the game itself didn’t help his cause (2 catches, 8 yards & rush, 5 yards), Miller still has raised enough eyebrows to be worth considering for Atlanta. Veteran WR Roddy White may see an even more diminished role in 2016 and Justin Hardy is headed for the slot role which leaves a hole for a #2 WR. Miller may be raw in terms of overall technique, but he is much more advanced for a guy with only one year of collegiate experience at the position.
Overall Solid Safety Play
Boise State safety Darian Thompson, LSU FS/CB Jalen Mills, WVU safety KJ Dillon all showed a glimpse or two of what they can bring to the Falcons defense. Thompson, in particular, displayed solid instincts to make the correct read and make pass deflections and also came close with walking away with an interception late in the second quarter. Other safeties will be in consideration as its possible that Atlanta could address the free and strong safety spot in the offseason. Also keep in mind that there are some interesting options in free agency at the safety spot as well.
Spence Continues To Climb
Eastern Kentucky defensive end Noah Spence continues to climb the draft boards. Senior Bowl week has been good for Spence as it gave scouts and NFL front offices an opportunity to view Spence up close and personal. Spence impressed throughout the week and the game itself as he displayed consistent pressure, pass rushing techniques, and the ability to rush from both ends. Right now, Spence needs to display some ability in the Combine drills as well interview well with teams as his off-the-field issues will come in to play. If he does, Spence may seem his stock skyrocket to the top half of the first round.
Developmental Signal Callers
It’s not a guarantee or a sure thing but it’s not a ridiculous idea to take a look at grabbing a developmental quarterback late in the draft. A couple of them were on display in Arkansas Brandon Allen, North Carolina State Jacoby Brissett, and Stanford Kevin Hogan. All three are not NFL ready at the moment and need a season or two of tutoring. However, with QB Matt Ryan having an up-and-down season, plus the amount of punishment he has taken in recent years, it’s time to have another option possibly waiting in the wings.
More Pass Catchers
Two tight ends in particular stood out as South Carolina’s Jerell Adams and Ohio State’s Nick Vannett as both displayed pass catching ability as well as blocking ability which is critical with the zone blocking scheme implemented. Both ended the game with three receptions a piece as Adams averaged 16.3 yards a catch and Vannett averaged 19.3 ypc.