Good morning! Welcome to The Cover9@9 blog. It’s our weekly blog of nine things at 9 a.m. Wednesday that you need to know about the Atlanta Falcons.
1. FAMILY AFFAIR. Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey, who is Matt Ryan’s first cousin, is set to visit the Falcons today, according to a person with knowledge of the team’s schedule.
The Falcons are allowed 30 visitors and this is the last week for the players to come in before the draft, which is set for April 26-28 in Arlington, Texas.
McGlinchey, who’s 6-foot-7 and 309 pounds, is considered one of the top tackles in the draft along with Texas’ Connor Williams.
But the Falcons could have him rated as a guard.
He looks up to and respects Ryan.
“It’s kind of been the ‘Mike McGlinchey, Matt Ryan’s first cousin’ since I was in high school,” McGlinchey said at the combine. “But I’m very thankful for that. Matt has guided me every step of the way, whether he knew it or not. And just watching the way Matt goes about his business, the way that he works, the way that people respect him is something that I’ve always worked for.”
McGlinchey used to go see Ryan play when he was at Boston College.
“He’s been my football hero every since I was a little kid going to his BC games in fourth, fifth, sixth grade, and when he got drafted into the pros when I was in eighth grade,” McGlinchey said. “We all went up for the trip and it was at that moment that I said, you know what, I want to do that, too.
“And everything that I’ve ever learned from him has been great. He’s obviously a member of my family and I love him for that too. But the experience and the values that he’s taught me have been invaluable, whether he’s said things directly to me or not.”
He has his favorite family moment with Ryan.
“So, it was kind of funny, we all grew up down the shore in North Wildwood together, and when Matt got drafted, obviously doesn’t get to spend as much time down the shore with the family as he used to,” McGlinchey said. “So, he came back, I think I was either a junior or senior in high school at the time, I was playing tight end and we all needed to work out ... We all went to a field — he needed to throw, I played tight end, I said I’ll go catch for you.”
McGlinchey route running was not up to par.
“He was throwing the ball over my head and I was like, ‘what are you doing?’ ” McGlinchey said. “He’s like ‘that’s where Julio goes up and gets it.’ I said, alright, I’m not that guy. But it was really cool.”
McGlinchey started his career at right tackle at Notre Dame, but played left tackle the past two seasons.
McGlinchey is projected to be available when the Falcons pick in the first round.
“McGlinchey is too reliant on his reach and upper body strength instead of mirroring with his feet, allowing speed to skirt his jabs and win the corner,” according to Dane Brugler’s 2018 NFL draft guide. “While his pass protection requires work, he is an outstanding run blocker, overpowering defenders and creating run lanes. Overall, McGlinchey has his warts vs. edge speed, but players with his combination of strength, smarts and intangibles are NFL starter-worthy, projecting similar to Detroit Lions offensive tackle Taylor Decker.”
2. THE FALCONS PICKS: The Falcons hold the 26th overall pick in the first round, along with the picks 58 (second round), 90th (third round), 126th (fourth round), 200 (sixth) and 244 (seventh). Atlanta was awarded the final pick in the draft (No. 256) -- referred to as Mr. Irrelevant -- as a compensatory pick for losing five players in free agency in 2017.
3. QUARTERBACK CORNER: The Falcons have worked out four quarterbacks this offseason. Nebraska’s Tanner Lee, Virginia’s Kurt Benkert, Memphis’ Riley Ferguson and South Florida’s Quinton Flowers. Benkert is a projected seventh round pick and the rest are projected to be undrafted. Some list Flowers as a running back.
4. ALEXANDER WORKOUT: Falcons coach Dan Quinn, general manager Thomas Dimitroff and assistant general manager Scott Pioli were on hand for the workout.
Alexander, who’s 5-foot-10 and 196 pounds, is the third rated cornerback in the draft behind Ohio State’s Denzel Ward and Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick.
The Falcons could go cornerback in the first round. They are set at left and right cornerback with Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford, but now view the nickel back position as a starting spot.
Quinn said the Falcons were in their nickel package 70 percent of the time last season.
The Falcons plan to move backup safety Damontae Kazee to nickel back to compete with Brian Poole.
The Falcons had a similar private workout with Colorado cornerback Isaiah Oliver and safety Afolabi Laguda in March.
Laguda, who played at Brookwood High before going to Butler Community College in Kansas and then to Colorado, also participated in the Falcons’ locals day.
“Alexander isn’t getting any bigger, but he displays the requisite athleticism, intelligence and toughness to fight for immediate starting reps and if his technique and decision-making develop, he will be a NFL difference maker,” according to Dane Brugler’s 2018 NFL draft guide.
5. NEW COACHES: Former Georgia player and longtime NFL assistant coach Travis Jones was added to the Falcons coaching staff on Monday.
Jones, 45, had “mutually agreed” to part ways with Seattle after five seasons and was named the Falcons assistant defensive line coach. He replaces Jess Simpson, who left for the college ranks to become Miami’s defensive coordinator for coach Mark Richt.
Also, Aden Durde, was named a defensive quality control coach.
Jones joined the Seahawks in 2013 and worked under Falcons coach Dan Quinn for two seasons.
Before Seattle, he spent five seasons as an assistant defensive line coach for the Saints. He started his NFL coaching career with the Miami Dolphins, from 2005-07.
Jones started his career as a graduate assistant/defensive line at Georgia in 1997.
He later coached at Appalachian State (1998-00), Kansas (2001-02) and LSU (2003-04).
After starring at Wilkinson County, Jones played four seasons for the Bulldogs as a defensive lineman and was a team captain as a senior.
Jones is Falcons linebacker J’Terius Jones’ uncle.
Durde joins the Falcons after serving as the head of football development at NFLUK, where he helped guide the International Player Pathway program. He worked with former Falcons defensive lineman Osi Umenyiora.
Prior to his work with NFLUK, Durde spent training camp with the Falcons as part of the Bill Walsh NFL Diversity Coaching Fellowship in 2016.
He also worked as a coaching intern with Dallas Cowboys during training camp in 2014.
6. RYAN ON JULIO JONES: Ryan is looking forward to getting in offseason work with All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones.
The Falcons report for their offseason program on Monday. Jones, who was out last offseason after foot surgery, will fully participate this year.
“It’s huge when you get any player to be able to participate fully,” Ryan said. “That’s critical. But you never know, the offseason and seasons are different every year. I think he came through the year, but I don’t want to speak for him, but he came through the year fairly healthy.”
Quinn said that Jones would be back at the owner’s meeting and discussed the important of practice for all of the players.
“We’ll see where he’s at,” Ryan said. “I haven’t been able to work with him up till this point. But I will start next Monday. I’m excited about getting back to work not only with him, but with all of our guys.”
Ryan said he’s heard Jones is working out or has consulted with Hall of Fame wide receiver Terrell Owens.
“T.O. is one of the best workers of all time,” Ryan said. “He learned from Jerry Rice and kind of modeled his stuff after that. I think the more you surround yourself with guys with a work ethic like that it’s a good thing. Julio has a great work ethic, too. He’s one of the best conditioned and best working athletes that I’ve ever been around.”
7. RYAN ON CONTRACT TALKS: The Falcons stated that retaining the services of Ryan was their No. 1 offseason priority, but the deal has been complicated by a shifting marketplace at the quarterback position.
“I think it’s been good,” Ryan said on Monday. “Obviously, it’s not something that I get heavily involved in. I feel like my job is to get myself prepared to go out and be successful on the field. I kind of let the business side be handled by the people who are competent at that (side of things).”
Ryan said the talks are moving along.
“Everything is good,” Ryan said. “I think the discussions have been very positive. I think those will work out.”
8. WASTED DRAFT PICK: Former Falcons cornerback Jalen Collins, who had drug problems at LSU, was suspended again by the NFL, but that didn’t stop the former second round pick from tweeting about his eventual return.
Collins was selected with the 42nd overall pick.
The Falcons could have picked linebacker Eric Kendricks (45th to Minnesota) or defensive end Markus Golden (58th to Arizona). The next cornerbacks selected were Eric Rowe (47th by the Eagles) and Ronald Darby (50th by Buffalo).
The Cowboys wasted the 60th pick on Randy Gregory, who also has had multiple suspensions.
9. DIMITROFF’S DRAFT PICKS: Click here to take a look all of Dimitroff’s draft picks over the years. Here’s my working list of the five players on the Falcons’ radar screen for the 26th pick. Alexander, McGlinchey, Georgia offensive guard Isaiah Wynn, South Carolina tight end Hayden Hurst and Florida defensive tackle Taven Bryan.