Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has not been a happy camper this offseason.
The coaching staff and his personnel men have been upset that the Falcons dropped from first in the league to 26th in fourth-down conversions last season. Also, the fact that they were stopped three times in the playoffs in those “man-up” situations had been difficult to swallow.
Coach Mike Smith has stated that the Falcons will play power football. A big part of power football in his mind is converting those short-yardage runs even when the opposition knows they are coming.
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Therefore, it was no surprise that the Falcons spent their first three picks in the draft on power players: guard/center Peter Konz, offensive tackle Lamar Holmes and fullback Bradie Ewing, who’s noted for his touchdown-clearing blocks in Big Ten country.
The Falcons did not have a pick in the first round, having traded that pick to Cleveland last year as part of the Julio Jones trade.
“Both (Smith) and I spent a lot of time focusing on the offensive line and how we could acquire some more size, strength and stoutness,” Dimitroff said.
Konz will jump into the competition at right guard and be groomed to play center. The Falcons had problems at right guard last season and wanted to firm up the interior of their passing pocket. Long-time center Todd McClure recently re-signed for one more season.
Holmes will be expected to compete for a starting tackle spot.
“We talked about coming in here and getting some wide loads,” Dimitroff said. “Quite honestly, Lamar is a double-wide load. He’s a big man.”
Smith would not say if Holmes is expected to take over at left tackle for Sam Baker or if the team has considered moving Tyson Clabo to the left side.
“We’re going to have an open competition,” Smith said. “I think competition brings out the best in everyone. These two (linemen) that we added, we’re going to put them right in the mix. We are going to have a very competitive offseason.”
Konz had some medical issues in college with blood clots in his lungs and with his ankles.
“Everything checked out fine,” Dimitroff said. “The reported clots, the blood clots were an anomaly. It was off an impact situation. As far as his ankles, he’s cleared up very well. He is a durable type of guy. He’s a tough guy who can play through any (injuries).”
Holmes was not projected by many of the draft analysts to be selected in the third round, but the Falcons were comfortable with where they selected him.
“I can’t comment on why he was projected late,” Dimitroff said.
The Falcons’ offensive line gave up 26 sacks and allowed 84 quarterback hits last season.
Konz’s versatility was important to the Falcons.
“At Wisconsin they made sure I knew tackle, guard and center,” Konz said. “Anywhere I can help the team, that’s my responsibility.”
Ewing cleared the way with 30 touchdown-resulting blocks last season for the Badgers. He was a former walk-on at Wisconsin and was elated to get drafted.