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falconsrule
03-11-2007, 06:29 PM
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 03/12/07

The Falcons' offensive line is going to look a lot like it did last season, despite new coach Bobby Petrino's desire to morph the smallish, zone-blocking group into a super-sized unit capable of moving defenders backward and protecting quarterback Michael Vick long enough to make him think twice before prematurely jetting out of the pocket.

A handful of factors played into this reality, most notably money or lack thereof.


"We want to change the body type of our linemen but we have to do that over time," Falcons president and general manager Rich McKay said. "You can't do that overnight unless you are willing to invest, truly, an inordinate amount of money in free agency and that, as a lot of teams have learned, comes with great risk."

Since free agency began March 2, the top-tier offensive line free agents have gotten paid like cornerbacks and defensive ends. Mind you, the tag "top-tier" isn't necessarily based on quality; in this particular market it's based on availability. There simply weren't many quality linemen in free agency.

The Falcons and several other teams weren't too keen on emptying their vaults on free agent linemen like Derrick Dockery, Kris Dielman and Eric Steinbach, who, combined, signed deals that totaled $137.5 million. Even if Atlanta wanted to, it didn't have the money.

The Falcons entered free agency with roughly $10 million to spend, not nearly enough to address all of their needs, including signing their upcoming draft picks.

Part of the reason Atlanta is financially hamstrung is because it re-signed center Todd McClure and right tackle Todd Weiner, who were pending free agents, to five-year extensions last season. Before the 2005 season, guard Kynan Forney restructured his contract to run through 2008.

Their combined base salaries: $28.26 million.

The way the contracts are structured, their cost won't be overly prohibitive over the next few seasons, which is why McKay and Petrino have said a change will come, just not right away.

The one spot where there will be immediate turnover is at left guard, where two-year starter Matt Lehr was released. Atlanta has spoken to Seattle veteran Floyd Womack (6-4, 330) and has been in discussions with the agent for Baltimore guard Edwin Mulitalo (6-3, 350) about a visit next week, although nothing has been finalized.

Though McKay said he was not expecting a coaching change when the deals for McClure, Weiner and Forney were consummated, he said he and his personnel staff did project the financial splurging on offensive linemen this offseason because of the salary cap being raised to $109 million and the market being so limited.

With McClure and Weiner set to become free agents, the Falcons opted to be proactive because they might have become too expensive to re-sign had they entered this particular market.

"I still go with the concept that if you have players you like and who play motivated, you should try to extend them before they become free agents," McKay said. "In our case we like the players and we're convinced these players could transition to a scheme change."

McKay said Forney, McClure, Weiner and left tackle Wayne Gandy have the ability to execute Petrino's blocking scheme, although they lack mammoth stature. They have, after all, been a nucleus that helped Atlanta lead the NFL in rushing the past three seasons, McKay said.

Still, there will be a transition. The plan is to start to acquire bigger players, mainly through the draft, and develop them, McKay said. Veteran backups, like Tyson Clabo, who started much of last season at both guard spots because of injuries and Lehr's four-game suspension for steroids, P.J. Alexander, Quinn Ojinnaka and Frank Omiyale will continue to be evaluated, McKay added.

"You're always working off a three-year slate," McKay explained. "You're always trying to figure out what this player is going to be worth today and what the market is going to be in two years, three years. What are the salary cap implications, who are the free agents we might lose in that period of time and will we have the flexibility to add free-agent players if need be."

falconsrule
03-11-2007, 06:40 PM
With the nine or so picks that we have I wouldnt be suprise if we use 3 or 4 picks on the O-Line....Everything starts up front for the offense so hopefully everything will work out for the best.

Shiver
03-11-2007, 06:52 PM
Though it is worthy of note, that all of the entrenched starters have started and succeeded in more traditional offensive philosophies. Weiner, Forney, McClure, Shaffer all were starters in the the Reeves' era, they just shed 10-15 pounds a piece to 'fit' Gibbs' system. Shaffer, for example, once he left he put on a lot of bulk when he went to Cleveland. He played well for Cleveland last year. The only immediate need is at Left Guard, and there are plenty of road graders to plug in from the draft.

The problem, more so, is age rather than scheme fit. New starters will be needed at OT in a year at the least. I would love if Ojinnaka and Omiyale could step in, great, but that is a unknown at this point. All of the four incumbents are not exactly in their 'prime' per say.

iloxygenil
03-11-2007, 06:59 PM
We can't afford to spend 4 picks on offensive line...I mean that's basically drafting an entire line...jeez. 3 MIGHT happen, simply because we could use a LG and LT and C. But McClure is going to be around I guess, but I could see us investing 2 easily.

Shiver
03-11-2007, 07:51 PM
If we trade Schaub, four O-Lineman from the draft wouldn't be that big of a reach.

4 O-Line
2 DE
1 FS/CB (based on Williams' decision)
1 RB
1 QB
1 DT

Not in order.

scar988
03-11-2007, 08:45 PM
anyone ever thought about this? Omiyale could gain around 10-20 pounds or so and still be as quick. his 36" arms will allow him to hold off DT's very well and his strength would be great for a LG. HE could make the switch from LT to LG and start for us and be the guy we need to help anchor the line from the inside out. We could then move Ojinnaka to LT and have a pair of guys at 6'5" 300 who are quick enough to handle speed rushers and strong enough to handle some of the bigger DE's without having to spend too much money o nthe OL. have the line basically be this and cut Gandy:
LT - Ojinnaka - 6'5" 300-310
LG - Omiyale - 6'4" 320-330
C - McClure - 6'1" 295-305
RG - Forney - 6'3" 315-325
RT - Weiner - 6'5" 300-310

iloxygenil
03-11-2007, 09:51 PM
I would MUCH prefer...

2DBs MAYBE 3 ( FS+CB then maybe SS )
1DE (early in the draft)
1RB
1QB
1WR
2OL
1LB (we need another ST guy + depth guy for WLB and SLB)
1DT

falconsrule
03-11-2007, 10:13 PM
Though it is worthy of note, that all of the entrenched starters have started and succeeded in more traditional offensive philosophies. Weiner, Forney, McClure, Shaffer all were starters in the the Reeves' era, they just shed 10-15 pounds a piece to 'fit' Gibbs' system. Shaffer, for example, once he left he put on a lot of bulk when he went to Cleveland. He played well for Cleveland last year. The only immediate need is at Left Guard, and there are plenty of road graders to plug in from the draft.

The problem, more so, is age rather than scheme fit. New starters will be needed at OT in a year at the least. I would love if Ojinnaka and Omiyale could step in, great, but that is a unknown at this point. All of the four incumbents are not exactly in their 'prime' per say.

I never thought of it that way but your right...

falconsrule
03-11-2007, 10:19 PM
I would MUCH prefer...

2DBs MAYBE 3 ( FS+CB then maybe SS )
1DE (early in the draft)
1RB
1QB
1WR
2OL
1LB (we need another ST guy + depth guy for WLB and SLB)
1DT

I agree with you on this one....The OL and Secondary is our biggest need in my opinion....Even though I think we can do without drafting a QB...We drafted D.J. last year but im guessing that your not too high on him...I would rather have another veteran QB

iloxygenil
03-12-2007, 12:11 AM
Yeah I'd love a vet, but at the same time, I really like Zabransky.

Shiver
03-12-2007, 12:31 AM
anyone ever thought about this? Omiyale could gain around 10-20 pounds or so and still be as quick. his 36" arms will allow him to hold off DT's very well and his strength would be great for a LG. HE could make the switch from LT to LG and start for us and be the guy we need to help anchor the line from the inside out. We could then move Ojinnaka to LT and have a pair of guys at 6'5" 300 who are quick enough to handle speed rushers and strong enough to handle some of the bigger DE's without having to spend too much money o nthe OL. have the line basically be this and cut Gandy:
LT - Ojinnaka - 6'5" 300-310
LG - Omiyale - 6'4" 320-330
C - McClure - 6'1" 295-305
RG - Forney - 6'3" 315-325
RT - Weiner - 6'5" 300-310

I would be enthralled if either Ojinnaka or Omiyale actually develop into capable starters. Let alone two of them. Right now, I don't see it happening. Besides, I think you have Ojinnaka and Omiyale mixed up. Omiyale has been noted for pass protection skills, but inadequate strength and run blocking. Ojinnaka has a mean streak and Jim Mora even said he has the physical make up of a Guard. Then again, I haven't seen either play enough to say anything for certain. I just think it's unlikely both of them become immediate starters.

d34ng3l021
03-12-2007, 03:16 AM
I would be enthralled if either Ojinnaka or Omiyale actually develop into capable starters. Let alone two of them. Right now, I don't see it happening. Besides, I think you have Ojinnaka and Omiyale mixed up. Omiyale has been noted for pass protection skills, but inadequate strength and run blocking. Ojinnaka has a mean streak and Jim Mora even said he has the physical make up of a Guard. Then again, I haven't seen either play enough to say anything for certain. I just think it's unlikely both of them become immediate starters.

Omiyale looks like a terrible pick as of now. Hasnt seen the field...Doesnt fit in the scheme now...

Shiver
03-12-2007, 12:39 PM
It's hard to be a terrible pick when you were a 5th rounder in a infamously poor draft ('05).