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NFL Scouting Combine: 5 Positions to Watch

Posted Feb 21, 2016

The upcoming NFL Scouting Combine will have a big impact on April's draft. Here are five positions for Falcons fans to watch at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Linebacker: The 2016 draft class is chock-full of quality linebackers, and with the release of Justin Durant, the Falcons are undoubtedly paying close attention to a number of these prospects. Given how much is asked of linebackers in today’s NFL, it’s important for these athletes to excel in a multitude of combine drills. If the Falcons are going to use the 17th overall pick on an LB, they’ll want someone who can stop the rush, disrupt the quarterback and hold his own in pass coverage.

Defensive End/EDGE: While the Falcons spent a first-round pick on Vic Beasley, Jr. last spring, the pass rush is an area Dan Quinn is motivated to improve. As teams observed at the Senior Bowl, there are plenty of fantastic edge rushers available this year—two of whom, Kevin Dodd and Shaq Lawson, played at Clemson with Beasley. It’ll be important for these guys to log a good bench press total and display explosiveness in agility drills.

Wide Receiver: Adding another talented wide receiver to the mix could make a big difference for Atlanta, and such an option may be available near the top of the draft. The Falcons have been projected to pick Laquon Treadwell, Corey Coleman and Michael Thomas in various first-round mocks; Braxton Miller, among others, could be a good option in the second round. Many of these young wideouts can improve their stock with good vertical jumps, shuttle runs and 40-yard dash times.

Offensive Guard/Center: There will likely be some changes along the interior offensive line, and a long-term solution at one of those spots could be found at the draft. Kyle Shanahan’s outside zone blocking scheme requires quick-footed, agile O-linemen, so the combine results could have a big impact on how the Falcons’ positional rankings shake out. The shuttle run is a great opportunity for these bigger athletes to show how well they can move in short bursts.

Strong Safety: With the release of William Moore, the Falcons could add competition for Kemal Ishmael at strong safety. CBS Sports doesn’t list any SS with a first-round grade, but the 2016 class has some intriguing prospects—including Keanu Neal out of Florida—who should be available on Day 2 of the draft. Because safeties spend so much time running backwards and changing directions, the three-cone drill and shuttle run will be important.