Here are three more questions to ponder as the NFL draft nears. For previous war room debates, click here.
• Who would impact the Falcons most as the third-overall pick?
Of all the players available for Atlanta at No. 3, including possibly Jake Long, Matt Ryan and Glenn Dorsey, the LSU defensive tackle would make the biggest impact on the franchise.
As a defensive-minded head coach, Mike Smith adheres closely to the adage that a defense must be strong up the middle, and adding Dorsey to the lineup would give the Falcons a centerpiece for their rebuilding project. Smith, who coached the dominating tandem of Marcus Stroud and John Henderson as the Jaguars' defensive coordinator, has always been a part of dominating defenses and the common denominator for those has been the presence of stout defensive tackles (Smith was on the Ravens' championship team with Tony Siragusa and Sam Adams controlling the middle). With Dorsey fortifying the middle, linebackers Keith Brooking and Michael Boley will see their playmaking opportunities increase as the rookie occupies double teams inside.
Plus, the team can pick up a top-rated quarterback (Chad Henne, Brian Brohm or Joe Flacco) and tackle (Gosder Cherilus or Sam Baker) with one of their three second-round picks.
• Should the Chiefs grab Matt Ryan if he is available at the fifth pick?
No. The Chiefs have a laundry list of needs, but quarterback isn't near the top of that list.
Their offensive line struggled last season, and their inability to create room for Larry Johnson crippled the Chiefs' smash-mouth attack. The combination of Kyle Turley and Chris Terry failed miserably at right tackle and the team released the pair during the offseason without filling the hole during free agency. John Welbourn started all 16 games at right guard, but he is on the downside of his career and the team could benefit from an upgrade at the position
The Chiefs would be wise to use the fifth selection on Jake Long (if he falls to them) or Virginia's Branden Albert. Both would solidify a position on the right side of the line, and Albert is regarded by many scouts to possess the athleticism to play either guard or tackle as a pro.
• How many offensive tackles currently carry first-round grades?
Six. Jake Long, Ryan Clady, Chris Williams and Jeff Otah have been considered first-round locks since the end of the season, but the postseason has seen Gosder Cherilus and Sam Baker also garnering attention as potential first-round selections. With Cherilus and Baker possibly creeping into the first round, many league observers are calling this the deepest draft at the position in years.
Cherilus, a three-year starter at tackle for Boston College, is lauded for his footwork and athleticism. Scouts believe that he has the potential to develop into a solid fixture at right tackle as a pro.
Baker, who many considered the top tackle prospect heading into the season, has bounced back from an injury-plagued senior year at USC with solid workouts at the Senior Bowl and his pro day. Although Baker isn't the strongest or most athletic at the position, scouts rave about his feel for the game and his natural instincts for the position. Baker will likely make a shift to right tackle as a pro, but the transition isn't expected to be a major problem for the three-time All-America.