Dec 16, 2012; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons guard Peter Konz (66) takes the field before the game at The Georgia Dome. The Falcons defeated the Giants 34-0. Mandatory Credit: Josh D. Weiss-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Falcons Hidden Roster Gems For 2013 NFL Season


The NFC South is a boiling pot for NFL potential.  Every year at least one of its teams is a championship contender.  Last season it was the Atlanta Falcons and they don’t appear ready to relinquish their hold on that title.  Have they assembled a roster deep enough to compliment their already established starters?

Offense – Peter Konz

Todd McClure spent 14 seasons trying to help the Atlanta Falcons win a championship.  He was a fixture at center, starting 195 games and helped them reach two NFC championship games while blocking for Michel Vick and Matt Ryan.  His decision to retire at age 36 was unfortunate, but not unexpected.  Luckily the Falcons wisely prepared for it via the NFL draft when they took Peter Konz last year.  He had a chance to learn from a smart, experienced veteran and will now take over arguably the most important offensive line position.  Scouts gave him high grades coming out of college.  His massive frame is ideal for the pros but he maintains the proper knee bend and hip control.  Excellent coaching at Wisconsin prepared him to make all the line calls as well.  Though not a flashy receiver or running back, Falcons fans may be surprised by how easily the team transitions to him.

Defense – Stansly Maponga

Much of the hype around Atlanta was over the signing of defensive end Osi Umenyiora who hopes to invigorate their uneven pass rush.  Lost in the shuffle is how they added depth in the 4th and 5th rounds.  The most intriguing pickup was Stansly Maponga out of TCU.  Height and motor questions caused him to fall to the 5th round but experts do like his versatile arsenal of power, hand usage and the agility to spin around blockers.  He plays physical and has the long arms to keep tackles at bay.  There is no question Maponga is raw, but in the deafening Georgia Dome, those traits he has become instantly more dangerous.  If Mike Nolan can coach him up properly, the former Horned Frog might give Umenyiora some heat from the back end.

Special Teams – Robert Alford

Most of the attention will go to first round pick Desmond Trufant, but the Atlanta Falcons may have struck gold twice in succession when they scooped up Robert Alford.  Though an injury robbed him of a season, he one of the most physical cornerbacks in the NFL draft with the athleticism and speed to match almost any receiver.  That ability plus his solid strength also makes him a possible return man.  He spent his 2012 season doing just that in college, averaging 14 yards per punt return and scoring a touchdown and 15 yards per kick return.  Considering he did that much is just eight games has to make a team wonder what he could do with 16.  That is why the Dirty Birds must give him that chance.

Tags: Atlanta Falcons NFL Peter Konz Robert Alford Stansly Maponga

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