A major knock against the Falcons in 2011 was that they were not explosive off the line on offense.
A Falcons offensive line once known for being one of the best run blocking units in the league suddenly became very mediocre after only losing guard Harvey Dahl to free agency. Both tackle Sam Baker and guard Garrett Reynolds really struggled throughout the season, and that became a major weakness week in and week out for Atlanta.
And don't forget that normally stalwart blocking TE Justin Peelle was released before the season because of injury, and former draft pick Reggie Kelly was signed to take his place. Kelly didn't quite provide what Peelle had, and as a result he didn't see the field much.
But two positions the Falcons are widely believed to be targeting in the draft are O-line and tight ends, and what do you know both those groups have started off the week in Indy with measurements and weigh-ins.
If the Falcons are serious about wanting to regain that size and nastiness coming off the line, well this is a great place to start.
As far as O-line measurements are concerned, there really weren't too many surprises on the first day of the Combine.
OT Mike Adams out of Ohio State is a complete monster at 6'7 and 323 lbs, but with average arm length (34 in.) and questionable technique some scouts wonder whether his transition to the NFL will be very smooth.
Iowa State's Kelechi Osemele, a guy many mock drafters have the Falcons selecting, is another beast at 6'6 and 333 lbs, and his armspan was one of the most impressive at the draft (35 7/8 in.).
Two other smaller-named linemen to keep an eye out for this week are Boise State's Nate Potter and UAB's Matt McCants. McCants hasn't received much hype because of his size (6'6, 308 lbs) but with the versatility to play guard or tackle and nice armspan (35 3/8 in.)
Potter comes in a little undersized at 6'6, 303 lbs but with a good workout this week he could find himself in second- or third-round territory on draft day. He also doesn't have the T-Rex arms (34 5/8 in.) that have plagued Baker** for so many years.
As for the tight ends, their measurements give us much more insight into the type of game they'll play in the NFL (i.e. blocking vs receiving).
UGA's Orson Charles bulked up about 10 pounds, measuring in at 6'2, 251 lbs. The one knock against him is that he lacks the size to be an impact blocker, but adding bulk to his frame will only prove his detractors wrong.
Stanford's Coby Fleener, another name that has been connected to the Falcons by columnists and mock drafters alike, was tied for the tallest tight end at the Combine at 6'6 and a nice 247 lbs. He also had the largest wingspan (33 3/8 in.) and second largest hands (10 in.) among all tight ends present. In short, he's a physical freak.
And then there's Ladarius Green, who also measured in at 6'6. However, he was also one of the lighter TE's in Indy, weighing in at 238 lbs. Much like Charles, Green might help his draft stack if he added 5-10 pounds in the coming weeks. Still, with the largest hands at the Combine (10 1/8 in.) and great speed he still stands to gain a lot this week.
**And yes, the reason arm-span is so important for offensive tackles is the ability to keep defensive ends locked in front of the blocker. Sam Baker has incredibly short arms for a tackle, and that has been a major pitfall to his play as a Falcon.
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