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Early Bird Report 3/12: Falcons' offensive line ranked No. 2 in NFL; Keenum to Broncos?


FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today's Early Bird Report includes the Falcons' place in a recent ranking of all 32 NFL offensive lines as well as reports of Case Keenum choosing a new team.



Pro Football Focus: Ranking all 32 offensive lines from 2017 season

Many Falcons fans lamented the performance of the team's offensive line in 2017, believing the unit took a major step back after 2016. According to Pro Football Focus, however, that may not have been the right assumption.

In a recent piece, the football analytics site ranked all 32 offensive lines from the 2017 season, and the Falcons earned the No. 2 spot on the list.

"The Atlanta offensive line might be the complete opposite of the Tennessee unit in that the performances at the guard position did not come close to the level of play at offensive tackle and center, especially following the injury of left guard Andy Levitre," Zoltan Buday of PFF writes. "A lot of what the Falcons do on offense relies on their outside zone runs – a concept they used more times than any other team in the league – and once again they found success on these runs as they averaged 4.45 yards on outside zone, the eighth-highest in the NFL. However, Atlanta's pass protection was not close to perfect in 2017 as they ranked just 12th in pass-blocking efficiency rating (79.7) after the regular season and QB Matt Ryan was under pressure on 33.9 percent of his dropbacks, the 15th lowest rate in the NFL."

Center Alex Mack led all Falcons offensive linemen with an 88.9 overall grade from the site, but Buday also notes the quality play of tackles Jake Matthews and Ryan Schraeder. Most experts expect the Falcons to address the guard position in either free agency or the draft, but the team has placed a second-round tender on Ben Garland and reportedly restructured a deal with Andy Levitre to keep those two, along with starting right guard Wes Schweitzer in the fold.    

Here are more articles for Falcons fans:

BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFL QB Case Keenum intends to sign with Broncos

The first domino in a very intriguing quarterback market has reportedly fallen.

Early Tuesday morning, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that free agent quarterback Case Keenum is expected to sign with the Denver Broncos once free agency officially begins on Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET. Keenum finished his 2017 season with 3,547 passing yards, 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions while leading the Vikings to the NFC Championship Game.

The last time a Broncos quarterback threw for over 3,500 yards and 20 touchdowns was Peyton Manning in 2014.

Keenum is hardly the only notable quarterback in the free agent market this season. His two teammates in Minnesota – Sam Bradford and Teddy Bridgewater – will also be available in free agency, as will Kirk Cousins, who is viewed as the top prize among all quarterbacks this offseason.

Here are some more articles from around the league:


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