The Atlanta Falcons were back at work on Monday for the fourth practice of 2015 XFINITY Atlanta Falcons Training Camp. The team was joined by special guest, Freddie Roach, former boxer and renowned boxing coach.
Andrew Hirsh: There's a lot of buzz surrounding Vic Beasley, Jr. —especially now that he's flashed his quickness with the pads on. What are your general thoughts on him?
Charley Casserly: Beasley's a key because, A) the Falcons haven't had a great pass rush, and B) when you watch the Quinn defense, one of the trademarks is the upfield part of it. Getting a pass-rusher at the top of the draft was crucial. Beasley is quick, explosive, great first step.
AH: There are many reasons why the Falcons targeted Beasley. Why do you think it was so important to add someone of his caliber?
CC: Vic does have the explosion to give you the big plays and force the offense to alter their game plan. What you want are guys that opponents have to game plan against. In scouting, I'd always say, 'OK, we have to game plan against this guy.' That kind of puts it in perspective. You have to game plan against Beasley.
AH: When you watch Beasley's tape, what stands out the most?
CC: I think with him, it's getting off the ball. If you can win the edge, that forces the tackle to immediately have a mindset of, 'I have to protect the edge.' So you're going to get false starts. You're going to force the tackle to start running, so he's going to get off-balance and open himself up for the inside move. So, to me, the No. 1 thing on the outside guy is, can they win the edge? Now Beaseley's not the tallest guy, so his ability to duck under is important — like Dwight Freeney. Like Freeney, he can make himself small but maintain his balance. Beasley's negative is that he is an undersized guy, so how's he going to be when he is matched up against the big tackles? Matchup situations are what you'll have to watch there.
AH: Jalen Collins has a lot of raw talent and seems to mesh with Atlanta's defensive mindset. What do you think of him?
CC: Collins fits the size profile that I would think Quinn would want, what he had in Seattle: the big, physical type corners that can play the press. So we'll have to see, to me, how he adapts when they have to play the zone defense and have to read routes and make instinctive plays.
AH: Who in Atlanta's draft class do you think can surprise a lot of people?
CC: Tevin Coleman I thought was probably their best value pick because this guy has the ability to start in the third round. Only about 30 percent of third-rounders end up being starters, but he has speed, quickness, big play ability. And he's got good instincts.
Justin Hardy can help them in the slot, which is something I thought they needed. I think that's his niche, so there's another value pick. Grady Jarrett is a guy with quickness. He's an undersized guy, but he may have a role in nickel in the pass rush, which is something that's been lacking here. So, again, quickness, explosion off the football. For the fifth round, that's a good pick. In the seventh round, King is another press type corner, which is something that fits their system.
AH: Speaking of Jarrett, a lot of talent evaluators believe he deserved to go higher than the fifth round. At 6-foot-1, he doesn't have the ideal height of an interior lineman, but do you think he can overcome that in Quinn's defense?
CC: Sometimes the lower guy has leverage, because they can get under the bigger opponents. To me, Jarrett was taken right in the area where he should have been taken — fourth or fifth round — because of the size factor. But if he can come in and give a pass rush and change things up, that's what you need. One of the things Dan Quinn does, at least what he did in Seattle, is rotate linemen and play waves. That way you stay fresh and your players perform better. (Jarrett) has one thing that he can do really well, and that's rush the passer, which is hard to find on the defensive line — especially along the interior. They're rare.
AH: Most — if not all — of the Falcons' picks were selected with the new playbook in mind. Beasley is exactly what you want at LEO. Collins is a physical defensive back who excels in press coverage, much like Seattle's corners. Tevin Coleman has experience in the outside-zone offense; Hardy looks like the reception machine Atlanta needs to complement Roddy White and Julio Jones. As a former executive, how important do you think it is for coaches and GMs to be on the same page when it comes to drafting?
CC: It's critical because it's all about communication. In other words, the head coach has to draw you a picture of what he wants. A lot of times, it's the ability of the head coach to be clear and simplistic at the same time. You're not going to get the perfect body type for every position. And you can be too restrictive and eliminate too many players. So it's important to have a picture, have it simple so everybody understands it, because your scouts are on the road and they have to understand it. That's crucial to have that. And then the coach's ability to take the raw product, especially the second half of the draft, and develop it — that's also crucial.