INDIANAPOLIS – While the on-field drills at the NFL combine are important for a prospect's hopes of impressing a team, the off-field interviews are even more crucial.
This event provides teams like the Atlanta Falcons an opportunity to meet with many of the top players in the upcoming NFL Draft to gauge how they process information and get a better read on their personalities. It's a part of draft preparation that teams take very seriously, and the Falcons are no exception.
After spending two first-round picks on offensive linemen last year the Falcons are in better shape up front this offseason. But depth on the offensive line is nearly as crucial as a team's starting talent, and Atlanta is doing its research in case they again decide to fortify the protection for quarterback Matt Ryan.
Six offensive linemen said during Wednesday's media session that they have had informal meetings with the Falcons already this week. And, notably, Southern California tackle Austin Jackson said he had a formal meeting planned with the team for later this week. Jackson, who is 6-foot-6 and weighs 310 pounds, explained that he was comfortable playing in an outside zone scheme, which the Falcons have favored under coach Dan Quinn.
"Getting out in space and still creating power," Jackson said when asked why he was comfortable in that scheme. "Producing angles to get attached to a blocker and move to run him out of there. I think I'm pretty good at that."
Here is the list of players who said they have had or plan to have meetings with the Falcons this week at the combine.
- Austin Jackson, Southern Cal. – Planned formal
- Calvin Throckmorton, Oregon – Informal
- Jedrick Wills, Alabama – Informal
- Jon Runyan, Michigan – Informal
- Jonah Jackson, Ohio State – Informal
- Logan Stenberg, Kentucky – Informal
- Solomon Kindley, UGA – Informal
Georgia offensive tackle Andrew Thomas, a top prospect in this year's draft, said he has not met with the Falcons and does not have a formal meeting scheduled with the team this week. He did not, however, know if he would have an informal meeting with Atlanta at some later point.
WHAT THE PROSPECTS HAD TO SAY
Calvin Throckmorton: "They really appreciated my versatility and the approach that I'm taking to this week. Into my own game experience, just that the intelligence that I display in my preparation and being able to really juggle multiple positions and to be able to slide around really well."
Jedrick Wills: "They were just trying to see what I know. Trying to see how high my football IQ was, drawing up plays and things like that. But also, they were good friends with Kyle Flood, who was my offensive line coach. Just trying to see a connection between the two."
Jonah Jackson: "I talked to their offensive line coach. I talked to one of their scouts. They definitely said they liked what they saw on film when I met them."
Logan Stenberg: "Really it's just been kind of the same throughout the league: They love the toughness, love the meanness, but I've got to reel it in. Other than that, they love how I play and we'll see how it goes."
Solomon Kindley: "They say they like how they play; they love how they play. They say I'm a mauler, they love my game."