Out on the far practice field, through binoculars, you could see Falcons rookie defensive lineman John Cominsky working on his hand placements with former Georgia Tech standout Desmond Branch.
He wanted to be ready Friday when the team went to 11-on-11 unpadded drills during rookie minicamp.
Cominsky, who’s trying to make the jump from Division II Charleston (W.Va.) to the NFL, looked at home at defensive tackle and end during the short scrimmage portion.
“He’s one of the guys that we are talking about and what kind of versatility … you see him straining and going, everything that you saw in college,” Falcons coach Dan Quinn said. “The effort and the intensity. We are looking forward to developing him.”
Growing up in northeastern Ohio, Cominsky, like most football players, dreamed of playing for Ohio State.
“I went to a football camp and paid about $70 to get in front of those coaches, and they didn’t even blink an eye (at) me,” Cominsky said. “But here I am, getting drafted in the fourth round, so they can think what they want about it.”
Not only did the Buckeyes nor the in-state Cincinnati Bearcats not come calling, but neither did any of the six in-state Mid-American Conference schools (Akron, Kent State, Bowling Green, Toledo, Ohio University or Miami of Ohio).
“Charleston was truly my only offer,” Cominsky said.
Cominsky went on to dominate at the Division II level for the Golden Eagles. He racked up 140 tackles, 39.5 tackles for losses and 9.5 sacks over his final two seasons. NFL teams wanted to see more against a higher level of competition.
He accepted his invitation to play in the Senior Bowl, the premier postseason All-Star game.
“I love the John Cominsky pick by the way,” Senior Bowl executive Jim 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, who’s now 6-foot-5 and 286 pounds, got off to a slow start at the Senior Bowl.
“He was a little quiet during the week,” Nagy said. “Then during the game he really showed out. ... Cominsky showed up in the game. 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.”
The Falcons were intrigued by Cominsky.
“What we saw is, one, quickness, toughness, for a guy who is that size,” Quinn said. “And then the physicality that could go along with that, and then you saw the jump take place at the Senior Bowl.”
The team continued it’s due diligence after the All-Star game.
“The more we spent time with him, the more we found out about him, and now we really have a clear vision of where we think he can go,” Quinn said.
The Falcons believe that Cominsky will put in the hard work needed to make the transition to the NFL.
“A hard-working, gritty guy,” Cominsky said in describing himself. “You know what you’re going to get with me. I’m consistent. I fly to the ball, I am a 110-percent kind of a guy.”
The Falcons will look at Cominsky at defensive end and tackle.
“The defensive line coach (Jess Simpson) spoke with me at Akron, took me aside for about 10 minutes and showed me some interior defensive line technique,” Cominsky said. “So yeah, they see some versatility with me …They even mentioned putting me on kickoff (and) kickoff return. I’m a big guy, but I’m very fast, so I could be a help on the special teams as well.”
The Falcons are not concerned that they are overloading Cominsky.
“He’s got the size at 285 to be stout enough to play (inside),” Quinn said. “There are two kinds of nickel defenders. Some that you can really only play on third downs, who can play inside, penetrate and get up the field. Then there are other guys that can play on all of the downs.
“But we’ll find out as we go. I think he’s got a enough quickness to develop into a rusher especially when you align over the guard. That is sometimes where you can create a matchup that you can keep developing.”
Cominsky has been receptive during this early portion of this major experiment.
“The mindset is there,” Quinn said. “I think the skill set is there. Now, can we keep stacking good days, good months and progress.”
Cominsky looks forward to working with Quinn and Simpson.
“I just got started on this whole defensive line thing,” Cominsky said. “So, I only had four years under my belt at the Division II level and now I get some time to work with a defensive line guy like Dan Quinn. Some professional coaching, (and) my ceiling is way higher and my best days of football are ahead of me.”