- Pat Yasinskas, ESPN Staff Writer
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We’ve been talking a lot about the Buccaneers and Panthers and what they may do in the draft and that’s mainly because they’re the only two NFC South teams with a first-round pick.
The Saints don’t pick until the third round, but now that we’re into April, it’s a good time to start talking about the Falcons and what they might do in the second round (at No. 55 overall).
A lot of people are talking about Atlanta getting a left tackle. But you don’t usually find future All-Pro tackles deep in the second round. The Falcons could take a tackle somewhere in this draft, but coach Mike Smith recently made it sound like the team will give Sam Baker one more chance.
When asked about tackles that might be available in the second round, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay ticked off a group (Florida State’s Zebrie Sanders, Cal’s Mitchell Schwartz and Mississippi’s Bobby Massie) that he referred to as "third-tier offensive tackles."
“Bobby Massie would probably be the best available and maybe best case scenario coming out of Mississippi,’’ McShay said in a recent conference call with the national media. “I don't know that he's going to fall all the way there, but if he does it's a possibility. Zebrie Sanders from Florida State, there is a good chance he'll be there. He kind of fits what they want to do. He fits that Florida State zone-blocking scheme, and I think he has the athleticism to play left tackle, but I'm not necessarily convinced of it. It's always hard to plug your left tackle, and it's not going to be easy to do.’’
I’m not sure it makes sense for the Falcons to take a “third-tier offensive tackle’’ with their first draft pick. They were reluctant to play interior linemen Joe Hawley and Mike Johnson right away when they drafted them in the middle rounds in 2010. I don’t see them being more willing to play a rookie right away at left tackle.
McShay brought up another interesting scenario for the Falcons with their second-round pick and this guy should be familiar to Atlanta fans. McShay mentioned Georgia cornerback Brandon Boykin as a possibility and he did it enthusiastically.
“He's just so fast,’’ McShay. “Everything he does is fast. I think his instincts need to improve. I know his instincts need to improve. He's late diagnosing some throws. When they put him in the zone, he can get lost a little bit, and that's not really his strength. But he's such a good athlete. He can absolutely fly. His vertical leap is just insane. He's just so physically gifted. You see the suddenness, the explosiveness. To me, maybe he's just a nickel corner, but maybe you get production out of him on the offensive side if you're creative enough. You definitely get production out of him and potentially some big plays in the return game.’’
Hmm, I have a tough time seeing Smith, who usually is viewed as a conservative type, letting someone play offense and defense. But, then again, maybe owner Arthur Blank can get in Smith’s ear about that possibility. Blank has developed a pretty strong relationship with Deion Sanders, who once played a little offense in addition to cornerback. Sanders also was a top-notch return man.
That’s a skill that could make Boykin particularly attractive to the Falcons. They recently let return man Eric Weems leave via free agency.