Part of having a successful franchise is making sure you draft players to replace aging or departed talent. We take a look at some players Falcons fans should start becoming familiar with.
It’s never too early to talk about the next draft. Over the course of the season, I’ll provide a scouting report of a prospect based on the one game I saw him play in that week. While it’s difficult this early in the season to forecast what positions of need the Falcons will have come draft day, I’ll try to focus on college players I believe Dan Quinn, Thomas Dimitroff, and Co. will have a genuine interest in.
This week I’ll look at a defensive lineman. Even with the drafting of Deadrin Senat and the signing of Terrell McLain, I believe Atlanta will still be interested in the front four this coming offseason. We don’t know what type of player Senat will turn out to be, and McClain is likely just a one’year rental. Additionally, this coming year’s draft class is potentially loaded with high-quality defensive linemen, and it’s easy to see Dan Quinn wanting to grab at least one of them. So, with that in mind…
Rashan Gary, DL Michigan 6′ 5″ 281 pounds September 1 vs. Notre Dame
Positives – he certainly looks the part. Carries his weight well. No flab. Athleticism is obvious. Moves very well laterally up and down the line. Flashes lower body explosion and functional upper body strength. Versatile. Lined up at both defensive end spots and kicked inside on occasion. I could see him playing either end spot in a 4-3 or 3-4 front and as a three-technique defensive tackle in a 4-3. The only spot I don’t believe he’d be good at would be a true nose tackle. His best spot in the NFL will probably be as a base end in a four-man front. Instincts look good. No trouble find the ball or reading blocks and deciphering where the ball is going to go. Doesn’t seem to be fooled by misdirection. Good tackler. Rarely came off the field and never seemed winded.
Negatives – didn’t really flash in this game like I expected him to, given his reputation as a likely high first-round pick. His teammate on the other end of the line, Chase Winovich, actually made more big plays, as did his counterpart on Notre Dame’s defensive line, Jerry Tillery. Was slow off the snap fairly often. His effort seemed to lag once he thought a teammate was going to make the play. Needs work on his technique. Seemed to rely on just speed or strength. May have been hamstrung by being asked to read and react too much and might be better off in a system that lets him attack.
Based on this game I’d say his current draft status as a potential top-ten pick is based on potential. You just don’t often find men his size with that kind athleticism. However, the history of the league is loaded with guys who were great athletes but never panned out as football players. I don’t think Gary will be a bust, but he’ll need to be coached up at the next level to reach his ceiling. A defensive scheme better suited to his skill-set would help, too.
Next week – Jeffery Simmons DT Mississippi State 6′ 4″ 300 pounds Sept 8 vs Kansas State