As the 2012 NFL Draft comes to a close and the grades are handed out to the teams, Atlanta's draft hinges on their most questioned pick, Lamar Holmes. Holmes was universally seen as a reach by Atlanta. Many draft prognosticators had him as a sixth or seventh round prospect. Many fans questioned why Atlanta had passed over prospects like Alameda Ta'amu, Ladarius Green, and Orson Charles for a left tackle that they hadn't heard of before.
A reach or a steal?
Thomas Dimitroff addressed the puzzled world about the pick of Holmes during an interview in which he stated, "Lamar is a guy who is really ornery, he plays with a certain edge." He also added that Atlanta had been keeping an eye on him for quite some time now. To be sure Thomas Dimitroff and the Atlanta Falcons know Holmes better then any of us.
Lamar Holmes never caught my eye when I went through the Southern Miss film, but for the most part I was looking at Cordarro Law who plays on the defensive side of the ball. When I went back and looked more at the offense of Southern Miss I noticed just how good of a player Lamar Holmes is. To say Holmes has good feet for a 320+ lb man is an understatement. He has excellent feet for a man his size, and he mirrors the rusher with the best of them. If that doesn't give you an idea of just how athletic Holmes is, than I will point you to the video of him catching a screen pass and taking it to the house; it's not everyday that OTs get to score on screen passes.
In addition to his great feet, Holmes possesses several great intangibles, most notably his size and arm length. At 323 lbs, Holmes is a hard guy to bull rush, and with 35" arms he's even harder to run by. When he gets his hands and arms locked on you it's over. He has a very strong anchor point, he absorbs the inital punches well and keeps the rusher from crossing his face by redirecting inside moves. To say the least, Lamar Holmes is one of the best pass blocking OTs in this draft.
Despite his great pass blocking skills, Holmes is extremely raw in run blocking. He gets knocked off balance easily while trying to run block, he lacks coordination between his hands and feet, and he bends at the waist a lot. He's a project for sure, but the upside is there, and Atlanta has the right coach to turn that potential into reality. Pat Hill has worked magic with offensive line prospects over the years, when he coached Fresno State his programs produced one of the best guards in the game in Logan Mankins. Hill is highly regarded in NFL circles, and generally talked about as one of the best in the business. Holmes is already at an NFL level with his pass blocking, it's his run blocking that needs to be worked on. Luckily, it's easier to teach run blocking technique as opposed to pass blocking technique. Holmes himself is also very motivated in the post pick interview he had with Dave Archer Holmes said, "He was going to take someone's job." That is what you want to hear from your new players.
Holmes is the focal point of this year's draft, Peter Konz is a plug and play starter he'll be a great player for the next decade if everything goes right. Bradie Ewing was the best FB in this year's draft, and had 30 blocks that led to touchdowns. Jonathan Massaquoi is a proven pass rusher and the staff can get him back to his old form. Holmes is the unknown, he's a great and polished pass protector, but a raw and clumsy run blocker. If Holmes works out people will look back and praise Dimitroff for making so many great selections with so few picks. If he busts, TD will be criticized for massively reaching on a boom or bust project and this draft will be looked up as mediocre with only one or two impact players coming out of it.