Author Archives: Saivion Mixson

The Atlanta Falcons Offense Lies In The Hands of Desmond Ridder

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the staircase”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

What does faith mean to you? When does it show itself in your life? When this faith is tested, what do you do? For the Atlanta Falcons, these questions of faith are personified through a spirited third-round quarterback with athletic upside out of the University of Cincinnati. Brace yourself, Falcons fans. The fate of the 2023 Atlanta Falcons offense lies in the 10-inch hands of second-year quarterback, Desmond Ridder.

For some fans, this means nothing more than allowing a young, plucky future franchise quarterback to get reps, so they may grow to evolve into the best version of themselves. They’ve seen how faith in a quarterback’s intangibles and physical gifts has worked for teams such as the defending NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles.

For others, this is the beginning of the end of the Terry Fontenot-Arthur Smith regime, as the belief in the second-year signal caller seems to be misplaced. This is mismanagement at the most important position on the football field and consequences/repercussions will shortly follow. And those consequences will be dire.

Which is the correct take? Only time will tell.

Today, however, we discuss how Fontenot and Smith have shown their belief and built this Falcons offense around Desmond Ridder. And we try to figure out whether or not it will or will not pay off in the long run.

Disclaimer: All statistics were from Pro Football Reference unless otherwise specified.

Photo Credit: Emilee Chinn/AP

Desmond Ridder Holds The Fate Of The Atlanta Falcons In His Hands

Biting The Bullet

Over the last two drafts, Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith have been mimicking Chris Tucker’s character Smokey from Friday. If you got Kool-Aid, there’s no sugar. Peanut butter, no jelly. Ham, no burger. Long story, short, there was not much talent to work with around the quarterback position.

Smith has spent the last two years molding together an offense out of scraps. The WR1 in 2021 was Kyle Pitts. While Pitts is a tight end by name only, he lined up out wide 237 times out of necessity, not creativity.

Smith had to mold two completely different offenses for two quarterbacks who win in different ways. In 2021, Matt Ryan was 11th in the league in Play Action Attempt Rate (Play Action Pass Attempts/Total Pass Attempts) and 12th in Play Action Yardage Rate (Play Action Passing Yards/Total Passing Yards). To contrast, Marcus Mariota ranked 20th and 21st in those categories in 2022. However, Mariota was first in both RPO Attempt Rate and RPO Yardage Rate in his lone season as Atlanta Falcons quarterback. Ryan ranked 25th and 18th, respectively.

Smith was tasked with creating two entirely different offenses based on his quarterback’s strengths and weaknesses. He has not yet got a chance to truly solidify an identity for his offense. That is, until now.

Building Around The Quarterback

This off-season, with both money and draft picks to utilize, the Atlanta Falcons started truly building their identity. They essentially bought a brand-new defense for new defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen to mold. Headlined by star acquisitions — that’s right, plural — Jessie Bates and Calais Campbell.

While they were at it, they decided to deal a couple of their late picks to the Patriots and Lions for tight end Jonnu Smith and cornerback Jeff Okudah, respectively. Both coming off of lackluster years and looking to bounce back in pivotal years in their careers.

To cap off the spending spree, they get human highlight reel, Bijan Robinson, in the first round of the draft, while also adding first-round talent, Matthew Bergeron, to help solidify the line in the second round.

Ultimately, this regime has done everything it can to make sure they get a full evaluation of their second-year quarterback. They have surrounded Ridder with plenty of talent on both sides of the ball. Not just that, they have surrounded him with talent that will emphasize the strengths of his game, just like Smith’s scheme did Mariota and Ryan.

How Desmond Ridder Wins

To answer this question, you have to go back to Ridder’s days at the University of Cincinnati. According to Benjamin Solak of The Ringer, Ridder was one of the more accurate passers in the 2021 class and a lot of that has to do with his pre-snap process.

One thing pundits gushed about when it came to Ridder was the command he had over the offense and the freedom he was given by his coaches. He was able to get his guys in the right spots and get them the ball in more advantageous spots so they could show off their skill sets.

Alec Pierce was Ridder’s favorite target, and for good reason. Ridder sometimes struggled with his accuracy. During the pre-draft process, that was the main knock on Ridder’s play. However, with the 6’3″, 213 pound Pierce, it was tough to miss him over the top. Especially on those sideline fades that that offense liked to spam as they got closer to the endzone.

Now, Ridder has 6’5″ Drake London and 6’6″ Kyle Pitts to hit towards the sideline.

One of Ridder’s comparisons coming into the NFL was Alex Smith and I think it came from the standpoint that he just did everything like it needed to be done. There’s not a lot of flash outside of a few scrambles out of the pocket. While Ridder has more than enough athleticism to make the most out of those scrambles, he’d rather sit in the pocket and allow his pass-catchers to beat you downfield.

Which leads me to my last point. Arthur Smith has outfitted this team with not one, not two, but three first-round talents that exist to make the extraordinary out of the ordinary. Most notably the newest addition in Bijan Robinson.

While we should be trying our hardest to make “I-985” a nationwide slogan for the trio of Ridder, London, and Pitts, it is worth noting the impact that Robinson should have on this offense immediately. Having this type of impact as a receiver from the running back position should be unfair.

And we haven’t even discussed Tyler Allgeier or Cordarrelle Patterson’s role in the offense.

Will This Work?

It should. This is very similar to what the Eagles did prior to their historic run last season. It is worth noting that Jalen Hurts had an entire year with Shane Steichen before that run to iron out what worked and what didn’t. Ridder has only had four games with Arthur Smith. So, Atlanta Falcons fans should be looking for this year to be similar to the 2021 Philadelphia Eagles. A team with a veteran defense that keeps them in games as the quarterback and play-caller get on the same page.

That being said, there will be some bumps and bruises along the way. Ridder and Smith will be looking to understand their own strengths and weaknesses as the season goes on. Understanding what route concepts Ridder likes best, and which ones he doesn’t. Finding that balance between RPO/play action and drop-back passes that keep defenses honest.

These are all aspects of the offense that are going to be addressed throughout the season. And at the end of the season, when we close the door on 2023 and look towards 2024, we should have a clear answer at the quarterback position. We will know whether the faith in Desmond Ridder paid off for the Falcons.

Best Players Available In The NFL Draft For The Atlanta Falcons

We’ve heard it from day one: The Atlanta Falcons are not going to reach for any prospects in the NFL draft process. They are going to go “BPA”, best player available, and continue to add the best talent at each pick. For the last two years, they have lived up to that mantra. How else do you rationalize picking a tight end fourth overall?

But, this off-season is a bit different. There are more expectations surrounding this season, thus making these draft picks more important. Especially the number-eight pick. Today, we discuss what could be deemed the best player available at each pick and some names to expect to hear surrounding the Atlanta Falcons and their NFL draft picks.

Disclaimer: I am only going to discuss the first two days worth of draft picks, Rounds 1, 2, and 3.

Please don’t forget to check out our amazing NFL Draft coverage.

Atlanta Falcons’ Best Players Available In The 2023 NFL Draft

First Round: Pick #8

Positions to watch: Edge, cb, rb?

The thing about the number eight pick is that it’s a clear sign of purgatory. You’re bad enough to where you secure a top-ten pick. However, not bad enough to be able to secure one of the premier talents in the draft.

That is, of course, unless Terry wants to get bold.

Running Back:

That’s what they did in 2021. Forget position, go and get the best talent available — now they have Kyle Pitts. They can use that same logic to go and pick up Bijan Robinson, running back out of Texas. One of the things this offense lacked last season was explosiveness; there was no home-run hitter. Robinson would come in and immediately become the home-run threat this offense desires.

But, if you are one of those who is more logical in your thinking, *yawn*, then you are looking at the defensive side of things for this pick. And with that, you could be looking at one of two positions.


There’s the EDGE position, where there are two options: Myles Murphy from Clemson, the 6’4″, 268 pound ball of pure physical traits. He doesn’t have the most refined pass-rush bag, but that can be taught in the league. You can’t teach his first step. Or you like Lukas Van Ness, who draws comparisons to another Nielsen disciple, Trey Hendrickson. His motor and explosion has shot him up draft boards, and it could shoot him all the way up into the eighth pick.


Then there is the cornerback position, where there are also two options: There is the lockdown-corner who was a menace to everyone in the PAC-12, Christian Gonzalez, out of Oregon. He has the prototypical size and moves the smoothest out of all of the cornerback prospects this season. Or, you like the human torpedo that is the Illinois cornerback, Devon Witherspoon. An instinctual big-hitter, he would immediately bring an attitude to the corner position opposite of A.J. Terrell that Ryan Nielsen and Jerry Gray would love.

Second Round: Pick #44

Positions to watch: edge, IDL, wr, cb

The second round pick will rely entirely on what direction the Falcons decide to take in the first round. So, we will discuss each of the options from the first section:

If The Falcons Go CB or RB:

Expect them to immediately find the best EDGE or interior defensive lineman they can. At around this pick, unless he tests himself out of this consideration, look for Adetomiwa Adeboware (try saying that five times fast). Arthur Smith and Ryan Nielsen discuss going into a more hybrid front, and Adeboware is one of the more versatile linemen in this draft. Combine that with his insane athleticism and you have a chess-piece all along the defensive line.

Another name to look out for is Keion White out of Georgia Tech. A 6’5″, 285 pound game-wrecker who is incredibly strong, and nimble for his size.

They could also choose to address the interior of the defensive line even more. You can never have too many big bodies up front. A name to watch is Keeanu Benton out of Wisconsin. This was a Senior Bowl riser who has shown out since the pre-draft process began. He has been working with Chuck Smith this off-season and it has paid immediate dividends.

If the Falcons go EDGE:

This is the more fun option to me, because that means they are more than likely to go for a skill position here at 44. And there are plenty to choose from.

Let’s start with the cornerback position. The first name that comes to mind is Julius Brents out of Kansas State. You want to talk about someone who made themselves some money at the combine! Brents tested like a madman in Indianapolis. Teams allowed Tariq Woolen to fall to the 5th round last season, I don’t think they will make the same mistake again.

Another avenue they could go is the wide receiver route. With a need for a WR2 option, finding one of the playmakers at the top of day two would be perfect. One name that makes a ton of sense is Jonathan Mingo from Ole Miss.

Yes, another Ole Miss receiver in Arthur Smith’s offense, but there’s a reason why they work so well. Mingo stretches the field, is physical at the catchpoint and during his route, and, of course, he is a willing blocker.

Another receiver that screams Arthur Smith is Xavier Hutchinson from Iowa State. He is a physical receiver who was a savvy separator underneath. No, he doesn’t have the elite speed, but there are plenty of other avenues to find that explosiveness. He’s also a Jacksonville native, like myself, so you know he’s a baller.

Round Three: Pick #75

Positions to watch: wr, idl, LB

Finally, we’re going to discuss the third round pick, the final pick in the first two days. This would be the perfect time to address the wide receiver position if they hadn’t yet.

If they are going to be looking for a receiver, you have to start with Ridder’s right-hand man at Cincinnati, Tyler Scott. His ability to separate easily, using his speed and explosiveness, is a perfect complement to the size we currently have in the wide receiver room. Not to mention his built-in chemistry with Desmond Ridder.

Another really good name is Jayden Reed from Michigan State. Another Senior Bowl riser who showed off his skills as a vertical threat. His 4.45 speed will stretch the field and open things open for the rest of the offense.

Another vertical threat is Rashee Rice out of SMU. His 10-yard split and 41″ vertical make him a threat both down the field and in “yards after catch” situations.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Falcons can look to bolster the interior defensive line group or the off-ball linebacker spot. Freak athletes Siaki Ika and Mazi Smith should be there around this pick.

Both of these interior linemen are freakishly strong, agile for their respective sizes (Ika: 6’3″, 335, Smith: 6’2″, 323), and are elite run-stuffers, something Nielsen covets from his defensive line. Both of them are very raw technique-wise, but Nielsen can groom them to where they need to be.

At off-ball linebacker, this is around the time names such as Daiyan Henley from Washington State will be coming off the board. Henley’s ability in coverage makes him such an intriguing prospect for Atlanta.

I expect Atlanta to play a lot more man-coverage, and with that the linebackers will be responsible for running backs out of the backfield, along with tight ends. Henley’s ability to cover both make him a great target for the defense.

There are so many different avenues the Atlanta Falcons can go to in the upcoming NFL draft. Let me know what direction you think they go in the first three rounds.

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Can Jalen Carter Realistically Slide Past The Atlanta Falcons?

It’s time. We need to have a real conversation about Jalen Carter and his fit with the Atlanta Falcons. Going into the pre-draft process, it was agreed upon that Jalen Carter was a top-two prospect in this draft. For some, including myself, he was not two. But ever since the initial report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about his alleged role in the death of his teammate Devon Willock and staffer, Chandler LeCroy, it has been a rocky road for the former Georgia Bulldog.

Now, he not only looked bad at his pro day, he didn’t even finish it. We’ll discuss if he still fits what Terry and Arthur are trying to build in Atlanta and if all of these “character concerns” warrant a slide to, and potentially past, the Atlanta Falcons pick at 8.

How Realistic is a Potential Slide Past the Atlanta Falcons For Jalen Carter?

A Little Backstory

Let’s start from the beginning. Last season, Georgia hoisted the national championship trophy for the first time in over 30 years. They did it behind the play of their stellar defense — specifically, their ridiculous defensive line.

They held the Crimson Tide run game to 30 yards rushing total on 28 rushes. A backfield headlined by Brian Robinson, Jr. who, in his rookie year, averaged 6.7 yards a rush for the Washington Commanders. That line included three first round picks, including the first overall pick, in the following draft but the main catalyst of this was then-sophomore Jalen Carter.

He then rode that success into this last year as he amassed 32 tackles, 31 quarterback hurries, and 3.0 sacks in 13 games, while continuously fighting off various injuries, helping lead Georgia to another national championship. His incredible season included 2.0 sacks against LSU in the SEC championship game, and a moment to show off his incredible strength to fans and scouts alike.

Carter was the dream prospect. A consensus All-American, a key cog to multiple national championship teams. He had a top-five selection all but locked up, if he wasn’t first off the board. So, why are we talking about him possibly falling past the eighth pick in this year’s NFL draft?

“Character Concerns”

On December 14, 2022, Todd McShay brought out two words that you never want to hear when discussing draft prospects: “Character Concerns”. He didn’t go into detail, but he stated that teams should be wary of them. He caught a ton of scrutiny, both on the internet and around the mediasphere, about his comments and lack of detail before making such an accusatory statement.

A month later, the horrendous tragedy following the national championship game occurred. We don’t need to go into detail. But, as far as Jalen Carter’s draft stock is concerned, we thought nothing of it. Hell, we didn’t know he was involved at all.

But then, minutes before he was scheduled to speak at the scouting combine, Athens police issued a warrant for the arrest of Carter. The NFL world all held its collective breath as the podium in Indianapolis remained empty. He was charged for racing and reckless driving, both misdemeanors in the state of Georgia, and was released the same day on $4,000 bond, according to multiple reports.

He also has had trouble with speeding before. CNN reports that months before the tragedy, Carter was issued three citations, all related to speeding and reckless driving. Were these the “character concerns” McShay was talking about? How much of a concern is Carter’s propensity for driving faster than the speed limit?

Now, he’s shown up to Georgia’s pro day nine pounds over his weight from just two weeks ago at the scouting combine. All 32 teams were in attendance. All eyes were on Athens for this event. Carter opted to not do any tests. Just on-field drills, and he struggled to finish those.

Is Jalen Carter a Good Fit For The Atlanta Falcons?

On the field, without a doubt. Jalen Carter would be the perfect defensive lineman to bring in with Nielsen’s “attack-style” defense. But that’s not what we’re discussing.

The craziest part of all of this is that, if it were just the misdemeanors, I don’t think we’d be having this discussion. Teams have overlooked worse circumstances from draft prospects, and honestly, for less talent. But now that he has shown up unprepared to Georgia’s pro day, his one chance to solidify his status as a top prospect after all of this scrutiny, we may have a problem.

I may not know the pressures of being a five-star athlete. I may not know the pressures of having to prepare myself mentally to perform physically in front of NFL scouts. But I have been to a ton of job interviews. And I know that you have to show up prepared for anything that may be thrown at you. Not only did Carter come unprepared, the weight gain gives off the vibe that he doesn’t care.

Terry Fontenot makes it clear that he needs 53 of the “right guys” on the field and on the roster. With as many questions as Carter has provided, with the only answers being on the field, it begs to wonder whether Carter is one of those guys. Does he fit?

Final Thoughts

Carter has some legitimate reasons to not be fully focused on football right now. There is no timetable on dealing with tragedy, especially one you may feel somewhat responsible for. There is no telling what that can do to a person’s psyche. Then, the timing of his arrest warrant and the media circus that followed. It’s been a rough March for Jalen Carter and teams like the Atlanta Falcons understand that.

This is not an excuse for his behaviors as much as it is a question of understanding. Understanding why he wasn’t prepared for his pro day. Understanding how all of this occurred in such a short amount of time and what that can do to somebody’s state of mind.

There’s a great chance that this all means nothing and Carter goes top-five like everyone predicted before the draft process began. Hell, McShay still projected him to go #2 overall at the time of his “character concerns” comment. But this is a situation that the NFL world needs to keep their eye on, both up to the draft and beyond. Hopefully Jalen gets the help he needs and he has the successful NFL career we all expect from him.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder

Atlanta Falcons Can Learn From Super Bowl LVII Quarterbacks

Let’s start this off by saying congratulations to the Kansas City Chiefs and their staff. There were a ton of questions coming into this season after the Tyreek Hill trade about the effectiveness of this offense without the “Cheetah”. Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and company quelled all of those questions and ended up holding the Lombardi trophy at the end of it all. But throughout the two weeks that set up Super Bowl LVII, there were some narratives and talking points about these quarterbacks that could easily resonate with the Atlanta Falcons and their fans. Even throughout the game itself, the Atlanta Falcons brass could take a few notes on how to go about the 2023 season and beyond.

How the Atlanta Falcons Can Learn From Super Bowl LVII Quarterbacks

This Is A Quarterback’s League

Throughout this run of dominance for the Kansas City Chiefs, they have had an advantage nobody else has. There is a reason the Chiefs are in any game they play in. If you don’t think that’s the case, look at their stats when trailing by 10+ points and get back to me.

Patrick Mahomes is absurd when his team needs his most

The Chiefs simply have the best marriage between play-caller and quarterback. The Mahomes-Reid pairing has been the best duo since the 20-year stint of Belichick-Brady. Showing that once you have the head coach and quarterback, everything else tends to fall into place.

Looking at the Falcons, the play-caller seems to be in place with Arthur Smith. He’s shown that his offense can be friendly to a quarterback, with the right supporting cast. There’s a reason that Ryan Tannehill saw a resurgence of sorts with Smith and hasn’t looked the same since he left. Now, it’s about finding the quarterback who not only can work in this system, but elevate it.

Is that Desmond Ridder? It’s too early to tell. The first four games of his career were uninspiring, to say the least. But they were four games, with two and a half of them coming against aggressive, attacking defenses. Still, 73 of 115 passes for 708 yards and two touchdowns is not blowing the doors off of anybody in the building in Flowery Branch.

Which leads me to say that anybody advocating for Lamar to come in, I understand the sentiments. When you have the quarterback, especially this young, you can build around him for years to come. There’s not going to be many 26-year-old former MVPs hitting the quarterback market anytime soon. Not to mention that he would make this a top-five offense in the conference when you pair him with Drake London, Kyle Pitts, and Tyler Allgeier.

I mean, if Trae likes him…

The Team Has To Work To The Quarterback’s Strength

Going into this game, I thought this was going to be a battle of team-building ideologies. The Philadelphia Eagles built the roster around the quarterback, both offensively and defensively. Plug in second-year Jalen Hurts and task him to prove that he can be the guy going forward.

While the Chiefs put their faith in their special Reid-Mahomes pairing. Build a team that is good enough to compete at the highest level, so long as they have that special pairing at head coach and quarterback.

Essentially, both sides of the Lamar Jackson-Desmond Ridder civil war that Atlanta Falcons fans were debating before the Super Bowl started and probably will continue to debate well into free agency.

Watching this game, both sides are correct. Whether they decide to splurge and spend on Lamar or stay put with Ridder and build the rest of the roster around the quarterback position, the Falcons have placed themselves in a position to compete soon. Side note, Arthur Blank has given his stamp of approval on the young gun from Cincinnati as the starter. We’ll see in the coming weeks how much weight that holds in the final decision.

In both instances, the Falcons brass will have to fill out the other 52 pieces on this roster to bolster what the quarterback does well. Remember, Mahomes finished with fewer than 200 yards. The first Super Bowl winner to do so since Peyton Manning rode off into the sunset in 2016.

His defense stepped up and kept them in the game by stealing a score with a scoop-and-score by Nick Bolton. Not to mention holding this vaunted Eagles offense to 14 points over their last five possessions. Thus, giving their own high-powered offense a chance to win late.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder
Photo Credit: Casey Sykes/Atlanta Falcons

Final Thoughts

The Atlanta Falcons are getting closer and closer to executing their plan. They’ve withstood the barrage of criticism that has come from back-to-back losing seasons to start this regime’s tenure. It’s time to turn it around. The question will remain — at least until this Lamar situation is settled — what is the best way to go about competing this year and beyond?

If we do go the Lamar route, how do we go about fixing this historically awful defense? Can we trust what we have with Desmond Ridder after his first four starts left the fan-base wanting more from the quarterback position?

It’s time for this regime to execute their plan and get back into playoff contention. Atlanta Falcons fans are tired of sitting on the sideline in late January and February, watching others battle it out for the title of “Super Bowl Champion”. It’s time for the Atlanta Falcons to find (or develop) the quarterback who will lead them back to the Super Bowl.

Senior Bowl Prospects to Watch for the Atlanta Falcons

The Reese’s Senior Bowl in Mobile opened some eyes to names that you will see come off of the boards mostly in days two and three of the NFL Draft. While the bulk of the Atlanta Falcons scouting brass was in Las Vegas for the Shrine Bowl, we were down here scoping out some of these mid-to-late-round talents at the Senior Bowl.

Every single one of the players that came down to Mobile should be on your big board somewhere. They all came down to Mobile and competed mightily. However, there were five prospects that jumped out that Atlanta Falcons fans should keep their eyes on from this year’s Senior Bowl.

Senior Bowl Prospects the Atlanta Falcons Should Watch

Keion White, EDGE, Georgia Tech

With the hire of Ryan Nielsen, expect the defensive line of the Falcons to get bigger everywhere. That includes on the outside. It is apparent that Nielsen has a type when it comes to getting pressure from the outside. Nielsen wants bigger, more physical guys on the edge.

Enter Keion White. The Georgia Tech edge may have made himself a bit too valuable for the Atlanta Falcons to pick him up at pick 44 with his play at the Senior Bowl. But, if he is there expect Atlanta to pull the trigger. He is a strong, physical presence on the outside with some good lateral quickness that lends itself to immediate value in the run game.

Jammie Robinson, Safety, Florida State

This is more of a safety valve, no pun intended, in case the Falcons don’t get Jessie Bates in free agency. Jammie Robinson has shown a physicality this week that new assistant head coach, Jerry Gray, would covet in the back end of the defense.

Gray was spoiled back in Green Bay with the duo of Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage. With the versatility of both Robinson and Grant in the back end, Gray should be able to get creative with how he can run his coverage. Not to mention that both of them are threats to rush the passer if in the box.

Keeanu Benton, Interior Defensive Lineman, Wisconsin

Benton showed a bevy of pass-rush moves throughout the week and was a nightmare in one-on-ones. He has violent hands and some explosion that a man his size (6’3″, 312 pounds) should not have. He moves smooth laterally and is steadily improving as a pass rusher.

Benton also has an extremely high motor. A trait that would be perfect to match with the likes of Ta’Quon Graham and Grady Jarrett. Everyone knows how difficult it has been to get to the quarterback recently for Atlanta defenses. Benton would be a nice step in the right direction to fixing that.

Jayden Reed, Wide Receiver, Michigan State

Okay, that’s enough defense. The Falcons are squarely in the wide receiver market and they need speed. Or at least some type of explosiveness. A solid route-runner could help as well. Well, you get all three with Jayden Reed.

In this draft, there are a slew of day two wide receivers that are going to be instant producers in the NFL. From Xavier Hutchinson and Rashee Rice (who both also had great weeks) to Zay Flowers and Josh Downs. With his performance this week, Reed cemented himself in that conversation.

He is an absolute burner, hitting a top speed of 20.03 MPH. A savvy and explosive route-runner would do wonders for opening up Arthur Smith’s passing game.

John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota

Finally, we have the big bully of the Senior Bowl. Will we be able to draft him? Who knows. Schmitz really showed out this week and cemented himself as the top center in this draft. If the Atlanta Falcons were at the Senior Bowl, you would probably see Arthur Smith and OL coach Dwayne Ledford salivating over Schmitz and his ability to anchor.

He showed an ability to finish his blocks in pass protection that the Falcons do need in the interior. Not to mention his ability to move in space. In the team drills, he impressed me with his ability to move laterally after snapping the football. Schmitz could easily have a good career in the NFL, maybe in Atlanta.

Other Senior Bowl Names to Watch

Darius Rush, cornerback, South Carolina

Kenny McIntosh, running back, Georgia

Daiyan Henley, linebacker, Washington State

Trey Palmer, wide receiver, Nebraska

Josh Whyle, tight end, Cincinnati