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Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange
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Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff was fine with sitting out the first and fourth rounds of this draft.

He traded away those picks as part of the Julio Jones deal. With only six picks, the Falcons were happy with their haul.

They wanted to add some competition along the offensive line and were elated to snap up Wisconsin center Peter Konz with their second round pick. They also drafted mammoth Southern Mississippi tackle Lamar Holmes in the third round.

"Peter is a lunch-pail guy," Dimitroff said. "He's a tough, hard-nosed guy, who has the versatility to play both center and guard which is important."

Konz is a solid pass blocker and could be the team's center of the future.

The Falcons don't believe they reached on Holmes.

"I can't comment on why he was projected to go later," Dimitroff said. "Sometimes when you have a JC transfer type of player, the prognosticators are behind from a recognition standpoint."

BEST PICK

Center/Guard Peter Konz: He could be a factor at guard as well or be the center of the future. He pulled and trapped from the center position with the Badgers and has a nice anchor point in pass protections. "In terms of Peter, he's going to start at the guard position for us, but he will get some work at center as well," Falcons coach Mike Smith said. "We'll start cross-training these guys from the very beginning."

COULD SURPRISE

Tackle Lamar Holmes: He was projected by most to be a late-round pick, but the Falcons liked him in the third round. He's a big, strong and nasty blocker who will get a shot to solidify the left tackle position.

A closer look at the Falcons' picks:

Round 2/55 - Peter Konz, C/G, 6-5, 315, Wisconsin

He was considered the top center in the draft. He was very effective blocking in Wisconsin's inside zone blocking scheme. He will get the chance to win the right guard spot immediately.

Round3/91 - Lamar Holmes, OT, 6-6, 334, Southern Mississippi

He played right and left tackle in junior college. In 2010, he played in all 13 games at Southern Miss, making six starts at left tackle. He was a team captain. He's expected to compete for one of the starting spots.

Round 5/157 - Bradie Ewing, FB, 6-0, 239, Wisconsin

The Falcons struggled in short-yardage situations last season and brought in some competition for Pro Bowl fullback Ovie Mughelli, who is trying to bounce back from knee surgery. He registered 30 touchdown-resulting blocks.

Round 5/164 - Jonathan Massaquoi, DE, 6-2, 264, Troy

He will be expected to provide some depth at the defensive end position. His experience on special teams will help him make the roster. He is from the same school that has produced DeMarcus Ware and Osi Umenyiora.

Round 6/192 - Charles Mitchell, SS, 5-11, 202, Mississippi State

He should provide some depth and have a chance to contribute immediately on special teams. He was a hard hitter with 188 tackles and four career interceptions. He played as a true freshman after being named the state's Gatorade player of the year.

Round 7/249 - Travian Robertson, DT, 6-4, 302, South Carolina

The Falcons expect Robertson to add some girth to the middle of their defense as a run-stuffing tackle. He is strong at the point of the attack and has some range to track down the ball carrier.

--Sitting out the first round was tough on Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff.

After trading for Julio Jones last season, the Falcons waited until the second round to make their first pick and start on their "offensive linemen" sweepstakes.

"It was something that we were focused on throughout the offseason," Dimitroff said. "Both Mike Smith and I spent a lot of time focusing on the offensive line and how we could acquire some more size, strength and stoutness to help bolster our roster."

Former Wisconsin center Peter Konz, who was selected in the second round (55th overall) and former Southern Mississippi tackle Lamar Holmes was selected in the third round with the 91st overall pick.

Also, Dimitroff made a trade in the third round. He sent the 84th pick to Baltimore and slid down seven spots and picked up a fifth rounder (164th overall) from the Ravens.

Just before they were to select at No. 84 (third round) they traded the pick to Baltimore. They received the Ravens' pick at No. 91 (third round), which they used to take Lamar Holmes, an offensive tackle from Southern Mississippi.

The trade also brought the Falcons a fifth-round pick (No. 164, 29th of the round).

The Falcons' plan was to improve the offensive line early in this draft. Their decision came down to Konz and Mississippi tackle Bobby Massie.

"I can't emphasize enough how important it is Konz can play both guard and center," Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. "We have him listed as a guard-center."

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked 26 times last season and was hit 84 times, which was the seventh most hits in the NFL. If the Falcons plan to climb to the top of the NFC and be Super Bowl contenders, they must do a better job of protecting the man Dimitroff has taken to calling "Deuce."

"We need to make sure we have the right people protecting 'Deuce' as well as helping in short-yardage runs," said Dimitroff, who selected a player from the Big Ten conference for the first time in five drafts with the Falcons.

Konz's versatility was important to the Falcons.

"At Wisconsin they made sure I knew tackle, guard and center," Konz said. "Anywhere I can help the team, that's my responsibility."

The Falcons re-signed center Todd McClure during free agency. Also, Joe Hawley started three games at center last season.

The right guard position was problematic as Garrett Reynolds opened the season as the starter after beating out Mike Johnson. When Reynolds struggled, Hawley took over at right guard.

In the offseason, the Falcons signed guard Vincent Manuwai in free agency.

Konz, 6-5 and 314 pounds, was projected to go late in the first round by most draft analysts. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper had him rated as the top center in the draft.

"He has no peers in this draft," Kiper said.

Konz, who lifted 225 pounds just 18 times at the NFL Scouting Combine, needs to improve his upper-body strength. He should be able to lift that weight 25 times. He said he lifted 225 pounds 23 times at his Pro Day.

He is considered quick and agile for his size. He could pull on sweeps and hit moving targets, which was considered a weakness of the line by former offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey. The line's lack of mobility was cited when Mularkey was pressed about why he didn't call more screen passes last season.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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