Draft fallout: Can Falcons keep Matt Ryan upright?


253 draft picks transformed the NFL in a matter of days. Around the League will examine the aftershocks by asking one post-draft burning question for all 32 teams.

Did Falcons find enough protection for Ryan?

Draft fallout

Around the League examines the aftershocks of the 2012 NFL Draft with one burning question for each team:

AFC East
Bills | Dolphins | Jets | Patriots
AFC North
Bengals | Browns | Ravens | Steelers
AFC South
Colts | Jaguars | Texans | Titans
AFC West
Broncos | Chargers | Chiefs | Raiders
NFC East
Cowboys | Eagles | Giants | Redskins
NFC North
Bears | Lions | Packers | Vikings
NFC South
Buccaneers | Falcons | Panthers | Saints
NFC West
49ers | Cardinals | Rams | Seahawks

The Atlanta Falcons' ongoing quest to make a dent in the NFC playoffs is directly tied to the play of Matt Ryan. The team used the draft to bolster a line charged with keeping its young quarterback upright.

"We need to make sure we have the right people protecting 'Deuce,' (Ryan) as well as helping in short-yardage runs," general manager Thomas Dimitroff told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Dimitroff isn't afraid to use Atlanta's draft to plug needs, even when that means bypassing the best value on the board. Without a pick in the first round after last year's blockbuster Julio Jones trade, Atlanta used its second-rounder on guard/center Peter Konz and a third-round pick on offensive tackle Lamar Holmes. At first blush, value wasn't sacrificed here, especially in the case of Konz.

One reason for back-to-back O-line picks: Ryan was sacked 26 times in 2011, but it was the 84 hits on the quarterback -- seventh most in the league -- that has the organization concerned.

The addition of Konz -- widely considered the top center in the draft -- provides the Falcons with versatility. Dimitroff pounded home the fact that Konz is seen as potential guard material in Atlanta. The young lineman pulled and trapped from the center spot at Wisconsin and will be plugged in early where needed with the Falcons.

Holmes is another versatile addition, having logged time at left and right tackle at Southern Mississippi. Throw fullback Bradie Ewing into the mix -- he'll replace the released Ovie Mughelli -- and Atlanta accomplished its goal of gaining strength up front.