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During the offseason we'll take a look at a hot topic on the Talk About the Falcons department of FalconsLife and examine what's on the minds of Falcons fans.
Falcons fans have long had a love affair with the fullbacks on their team. Bob Christian and Ovie Mughelli are just two of the more recent fullbacks that have embodied the relentless and versatile style of fullback that Falcons fans seem to enjoy watching. The next beloved Falcons fullback may be 2012 fifth-round draft pick, Bradie Ewing.
Ewing is the subject of a thread started on FalconsLife this week by xSICKxWITHxITx. He proposes the idea that Ewing may be in more of the Peyton Hillis mold than a more traditional fullback. Hillis was a fullback in college at Arkansas, blocking for Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. He was occasionally used as a pass catcher, but he was otherwise a full-time lead blocker.
Ewing was considered one of the best fullbacks in the draft this year, but some of his other skills were somewhat unknown. He was almost primarily a blocker in Wisconsin's strong running game. He was designated as a block-first kind of player and an outstanding special teams player. On the surface, he sounds exactly like a Falcons fullback.
Head coach Mike Smith surprised some when he mentioned Ewing's pass-catching ability during the Falcons' rookie minicamp. With the hiring of Dirk Koetter as Atlanta's offensive coordinator, Atlanta was expected to move away from the run-first style of the past few seasons. The drafting of a fullback counters that belief a little, but Smith's mention of Ewing's receiver skills suddenly makes Ewing a very intriguing player in Atlanta's offense.
SavvyFalcon89 shared the way he sees the Falcons potentially using Ewing.
"I think Ewing will be used more like how John Kuhn is used in Green Bay," he wrote. "This will make his versatility a plus."
The Kuhn comparison is an interesting one. Kuhn was used as a fullback and running back in recent seasons in Green Bay. Last season the versatility was on full display as mostly a short-yardage touchdown machine. He had six touchdowns, four as a runner and two as a pass catcher.
While the expectation isn't for Ewing to come into Atlanta and be a playmaker in the traditional sense, he seems to be well-rounded enough to provide valuable additions to the Falcons in a variety of ways.
The Falcons weren't afraid to pass to the fullback last season, judging by Mughelli's two touchdown receptions last season. If Ewing's as good of a receiver as Smith thinks, it's not impossible to see him have an opportunity to match Mughelli's receiving production. If he can block like he did in college and be valuable on special teams, the Falcons perhaps made another wise, under-the-radar draft selection.