Welcome to the Cover 9@9 blog — instead of our weekly list of nine things that you need to know about the Atlanta Falcons on Wednesday, this is a special combine edition.
The big takeaway from the NFL scouting combine was that the Falcons’ 2020 roster touch-up/makeover is on hold.
“We like our roster,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff repeated in all his interviews with radio and television.
Up against the salary cap, the Falcons are at the mercy of the NFLPA agreeing to a new collective bargaining agreement. The Falcons need the new salary cap space and the ability to use the post-June 1 designations on the pending veteran salary-cap casualties.
Here are nine things we learned about the Falcons at the combine:
1. Kicking situation. After one-on-one interviews with kickers Rodrigo Blankenship and Tyler Bass, you got the feeling that they would rather not come in and compete with Younghoe Koo. There are other teams with clear openings.
2. Safety/linebacker depth. With the Falcons set not to re-sign Kemal Ishmael, they’ll need to add a reserve hybrid linebacker/safety.
3. Replacing Beasley. LSU lineback K’Lavon Chaisson is the best choice in the draft if the Falcons stay at the 16th overall pick. The bargain basement veteran group includes former Georgia Tech standout Jeremiah Attaochu (Broncos), Jabaal Sheard (Colts) and Vince Biegel (Dolphins, restricted.)
Chaisson’s production in college doesn’t match his athletic ability. He has a bigger upside than Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa.
We need to do some research on what it will cost to trade up to the No. 2 spot to get Ohio State’s Chase Young.
4. Hooper’s value. Is tight end Austin Hooper a $10 million a year guy or a product of the Julio Jones effect? That’s what the Packers, Cowboys, Redskins, Jaguars, Bears and Patriots are trying to decide as the Falcons are fine with other teams setting Hooper’s market value.
5. New uniforms. The word on the street is that the new uniforms and possibly a new logo will drop the week of the draft with the Falcons holding a big reveal party.
The new jersey will be out there so the fans can get the new first-round pick’s number. If they trade up for Young, he’d move a lot more jerseys than Chaisson or some guard prospect.
6. Linebacker market. The key for De’vondre Campbell is if a team views him as a three-down linebacker or not. It was smart of his agent Drew Rosenhaus to keep the door open with the Falcons.
7. Options at RB. You get the sense the Falcons respect what Devonta Freeman did for them early in his career, but know it’s time to move on.
Can Jonathan Taylor be the new Michael Turner for the Falcons? D’Andre Swift? Cam Akers later in the draft?
8. Gono deserves a shot. With Wes Schweitzer heading to free agency, Matt Gono is up at guard. The options include James Carpenter, Gono, Jamon Brown, Sean Harlow and a rookie. Is top guard/center in the draft worth the 16th pick?
9. Interior line position. The Falcons are looking for a left guard and had formal and informal interviews with Kansas left tackle Hakeem Adeniji, who projects as a guard into the NFL.
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