Good morning! Welcome to the Cover 9@9 blog. It’s our weekly list of nine things at 9 a.m. Wednesday that you need to know about the Atlanta Falcons.
1. Senior Bowl exec on Falcons’ picks. Jim Nagy, the executive director of the Senior Bowl, is high on the Falcons’ first-round picks.
“Chris Lindstrom is going to be a Pro Bowler early in my opinion and Kaleb McGary is ready to start right now,” said Nagy, a former scout with Seattle. “They basically just plugged in the right side of their line. I don’t know which side they are going to play Chris on. But they got two 10-year starters.
“I think Chris is going to be a Pro Bowler. Kaleb is going to be a really good player. Both true, nasty, tough guys.”
Nagy was part of teams that appeared in six Super Bowls, including four winners (XXXI with Green Bay, XXXVIII and XXXIX with New England, and XLVIII with Seattle). (I covered the Packers Super Bowl XXXI team for The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.)
Nagy contended that the Falcons had to make a move on linemen this year.
“As silly as it sounds, it’s harder and harder to find those guys,” Nagy said. “The real blue-collar dudes that are really tough. The last five years when I was in Seattle, we didn’t have very good offensive line play at all and we were desperate for (offensive) linemen. It was so frustrating on draft day, staring up at that draft board and really not seeing past the first round anybody who could help you.
“This was a really good offensive line class. We’re about 80 percent done with the Senior Bowl’s offensive line group for next year and it’s looking lean.”
Colleges have not been developing their linemen to play in the NFL. And since the 2011 collective bargaining agreement, teams have had limited padded practices to develop the linemen.
“Not only has the talent level been down, but there’s also the apples to orange transition from the college game, the spread game,” Nagy said. “Andre Dillard from Washington State, this year, never even got in a three-point stance until he came to the Senior Bowl.”
Nagy believes the Falcons first-rounders are ready for NFL action.
“There’s no development that needs to take place,” Nagy said. “They are guys that Atlanta can line up week one and win games with.”
Nagy was told about the criticism that Lindstorm can’t anchor and catches defenders.
“I think that’s the most nit-pickiest criticism of Chris Lindstrom that I’ve ever heard,” Nagy said. “I think that he’s one of the most solid, dependable offensive linemen that you’ll find. He’s really alert. He’s really aware. He’s strong. He finishes blocks. He’s athletic at the second level. He’s really a high-end guard. You are not going to find many college guards that are close to Chris Lindstrom.”
Nagy was told about the concerns of whether McGary can handle elite NFL pass rushers.
“Struggles against elite speed, I hate that criticism because who doesn’t struggle against elite speed when you’re a right tackle,” Nagy said. “That’s all 32 right tackles in the league going against Von Miller, you’re going to need help. Can Kaleb hold his own against 90 percent of the rushers in the league, yes. Will he struggle against a Von Miller? Yes, he’s going to need help, but they all do.”
The Falcons may have to put one of the blocking tight ends, Luke Stocker or Logan Paulsen, with McGary against elite rushers or have a running back chip out of the backfield.
“It’s easy for people to sit there and poke holes, but those two are really good players,” Nagy said. “They’re both going to be high-end starters for a long time. I think they just solidified their line.”
2. Nagy on Carpenter. The Falcons signed offensive guard James Carpenter, who’s stay in Seattle overlapped with Nagy, who was there for final two years of Carpenter’s stay.
“He’s very scheme specific,” Nagy said. “If you’re a team that likes to run the football and come off the ball, where he can just get his big body on people and move them right away, he’s fine. ... If they are running a lot of zone splits and wide-zone stuff where he’s got to get out lateral or in space and move, then it’s probably not going to be a good fit. ... They wouldn’t have signed him to do something that he’s not good at.”
So, Carpenter doesn’t fit an outside-zone system.
3. Cominsky is a diamond in the rough. The Falcons selected defensive tackle John Cominsky in the fourth round out of Division II Charleston (W.Va.).
“I love the John Cominsky pick by the way,” Nagy said. “I can’t wait to see what Dan Quinn does with that kid. He is one of the best stories of the draft. Coming into school as a 6-1, 210-pound dude and growing into a monster.”
Cominsky dominated at his level.
“At the Senior Bowl, he was a little quiet during the week,” Nagy said. “Then during the game he really showed out. ... Cominisky showed in the game where he had four or five really good bull rushes where he just collapsed the pocket.
“DQ is such a good line coach. He was in Seattle with me. He’s so good at coaching that position. A guy that’s 6-5, 285 running a 4.69 or whatever, he’s got so much physical ability and he’s mature. The Senior Bowl wasn’t too big for him. ... He knocked some people on their heels and got them walked back. That was pretty cool to see. That kid has a lot of upside.”
4. Wreh-Wilson gets academic honor. Falcons reserve cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson graduated from the Crossover Into Business program at Harvard Business School, according to the fine folks in player’s affairs.
5. Offseason schedule. The Falcons offseason schedule is set. Training camp is likely to start the third week of July since they play in the Hall of Fame.
6. Undrafted rookies. The Falcons signed 16 undrafted rookies. Former Georgia wide receiver Jayson Stanley, who was essentially a blocker and special teams player for the Bulldogs, will get converted to cornerback.
The Falcons, under Quinn, have converted wide receivers C.J. Goodwin (Cardinals) and Deandre Burton (Texans) into defensive backs.
7. Super Bowl odds stay flat. Las Vegas was not impressed with the Falcons’ draft class. Their Super Bowl odds remained the same.
8. Draft bios. Here’s a look at the Falcons’ draft picks.
9. Depth chart. Here’s the updated depth chart after the draft. I’m staying with Sambrailo although they’ll try to start both of the rookies. We won’t add the undrafted rookies until after they survive the rookie minicamp, May 10 and 11. Some will get beat out by tryout players:
WR 11 Julio Jones, 14, Justin Hardy, 83 Russell Gage, 16 Christian Blake
LT 70 Jake Matthews, 73 John Wetzel, 77 Matt Gono
LG James Carpenter, 71 Wes Schweitzer, 60 Adam Gettis
C 51 Alex Mack, 71 Wes Schweitzer
RG 63 Chris Lindstrom, 68 Jamon Brown, 64 Sean Harlow
RT 74 Ty Sambrailo, 76 Kaleb McGary, 77 Matt Gono
TE 81 Austin Hooper, 88 Luke Stocker, 82 Logan Paulsen, 85 Eric Saubert, 87 Jaeden Graham, 89 Alex Gray
WR 12 Mohamed Sanu, 18 Calvin Ridley, 7 Devin Gray
QB 2 Matt Ryan, 8 Matt Schaub, 6 Kurt Benkert
RB 24 Devonta Freeman, 25 Ito Smith, 32 Brian Hill, 38 Kenjon Barner, 43 Jeremy Langford, Marcus Green
FB 30 Ricky Ortiz, 88 Luke Stocker, Qadree Ollison
DE 44 Vic Beasley Jr., 56 Steven Means, Chris Odom
DT 96 Tyeler Davison, 94 Deadrin Senat, John Cominsky, Ra’Shede Hageman, 93 Michael Bennett, 79 Jacob Tuioti-Mariner
DT 97 Grady Jarrett, 95 Jack Crawford, 79 Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, 92 Justin Zimmer
DE 98 Takk McKinley, 99 Adrian Clayborn
WLB 54 Foyesade Olukon, 42 Duke Riley
MLB 45 Deion Jones, 55 Bruce Carter
SLB 59 De’Vondre Campbell, 36 Kemal Ishmael, 53 Jermaine Grace
CB 20 Isaiah Oliver, 33 Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Jordan Miller
NCB 27 Damontae Kazee,
CB 21 Desmond Trufant, 38 Taveze Calhoun, Kendall Sheffield
FS 37 Ricardo Allen, 41 Sharrod Neasman, Afolabi Laguda
SS 22 Keanu Neal, J.J. Wilcox, 40 Ryan Neal, Chris Cooper
K 4 Giorgio Tavecchio
KO 5 Matt Bosher
P 5 Matt Bosher
KR 38 Kenjon Barner, 14 Calvin Ridley
PR 14 Justin Hardy, Marcus Green, 38 Kenjon Barner
LS 47 Josh Harris
H 5 Matt Bosher