The 2013 edition of the NFL Combine is now less than two weeks away, as the top draft prospects are set to hit Indianapolis and show off their skills to the thirty-two teams on the four day combine that starts on February 23rd. Despite an impressive 2012 regular season, there is no denying that the Atlanta Falcons need to improve several key positions through this year’s draft, which means that the team should pay special attention to this year’s draft class.
Although it is difficult to accurately predict what the team’s needs will be in April, it is clear that the Falcons’ front office must already have several players in mind when it comes to who they will turn to with their 30th overall pick in the first round of April’s draft. Here are five draft prospects that very well could end up as Atlanta’s first round draft pick in the 2013 NFL Draft:
Name, Position, College Height, Weight Player at a Glance
Eddie Lacy, RB, Alabama
5’10”, 210 lbs Lacy was nearly unstoppable down the stretch for the Crimson Tide with one of the junior’s best performances coming in the national championship game, as he rushed for 140 yards with one touchdown on 20 carries in Alabama’s second straight national championship game. A strong back with the awareness to leave defenders puzzled due to his spin move, Lacy has the makings of a solid NFL running back, something the Falcons need after the forgettable season Michael Turner just finished off.
Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
6’6”, 250 lbs What better way to replace Tony Gonzalez, who measures in at 6’5” and 247 lbs, than to draft Eifert, who is just a little bigger. The leading receiver for a Fighting Irish team that finished the regular season with a 12-0 record, Eifert will not make a name for himself in the NFL as a blocking tight end, but that does not mean he is not capable of stepping in and making Atlanta’s talented receiving core even better.
Kevin Minter, ILB, LSU
6’2”, 244 lbs Minter was an absolute maniac on defense for the Bayou Bengals in 2012, recording 130 tackles (20 in the Florida game alone!) with four sacks and one interception in the team’s thirteen games. The Falcons’ linebackers were woefully ineffective throughout the 2012 season, and if the team fails to lure in a big free agent you can rest assured that they will have a player like Minter on their radar.
John Jenkins, DT, Georgia
6’3”, 359 lbs A mammoth nose tackle for the Bulldogs, Jenkins recorded fifty tackles with one sack and 10 quarterback hurries in a year that saw Georgia win twelve games for only the third time in school history. Although Jenkins may be better suited to play in a 3-4 defense, the twenty-three year old’s ability to stop the run play after play may make him a viable candidate for the 30th selection.
Ezekiel Ansah, DE, BYU
6’6”, 273 lbs Playing for the Cougars may have hid Ansah from the spotlight for a good portion of 2012, but his performance in the Senior Bowl (2 sacks with one forced fumble and a pass breakup) verified that he is a quality defender that could prove to be a standout at defensive end. A native of Ghana who had never seen an American football game before moving to the United States, Ansah’s stock has been rising quickly in the time since the Senior Bowl domination, meaning that it may be a stretch to say that he will still be on the board once the Atlanta Falcons are on the clock; if, however, he is still available, the Falcons would be hard pressed to find another player in the draft that would have as good of a chance to complement John Abraham on the opposite end of the defensive line like Ansah.
Expectations are high for all five of the players listed, but things could change in a heartbeat if something unexpected—whether it be good or bad—happens during the Combine and before the Draft.