The NFL scouting combine is much more than just gathering 40-yard dash times.
The Falcons’ personnel, coaching and medical staffs will head to Indianapolis to evaluate more than 330 prospects for the NFL draft, which is set for April 26-28 in Arlington, Texas.
The combine starts Tuesday and runs through Monday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“Sixty-three of 107 players that went in the first three rounds were on defense,” NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said on Monday. “That was by far the most ever. It was a defensive draft in (2017).”
The Falcons, who don’t believe that have any glaring weaknesses, want to fortify their offensive and defensive lines. They also need to improve the short-yardage package on offense.
“It was also the worst offensive line year ever as far as offensive line guys drafted,” Mayock said. “There were 33 total and none in the top 15 and only two in the first two rounds.”
In addition to evaluating the athletic ability of the players, here are five other things the Falcons will try to accomplish during the combine.
1. Get a better handle on the Matt Ryan contract situation: Most of the NFLPA certified agents are on hand. Team executives have a chance to have face to face meetings and lay out parameters for deals.
The Falcons will likely meet with Ryan’s agent, Tom Condon, to work on his contract extension. The team also can meet with Jimmy Sexton, who represents defensive tackle Dontari Poe, and Blake Baratz, who represents defensive end Adrian Clayborn.
The Falcons have already started discussing a new contract with kicker Matt Bryant, with the hopes of keeping him from becoming an unrestricted free on March 14.
They are also close to making some decisions on salary cap casualties.
“We’ve planned properly, and again, to our staff and our discussions about where we’re going with our financing through the last few years,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “I think we’ve set ourselves up in a good spot to be able to take care of Matt and take care of the guys at hand right now and then into the future with some of the young guys.”
2. Get a better understanding of the class: The Falcons were awarded a seventh-round compensatory pick by the league office on Friday.
The Falcons lost Patrick DiMarco, Tom Compton, Paul Worrilow, Aldrick Robinson and Eric Weems in 2017, but signed Jack Crawford, Andre Roberts and Poe. Compensatory free agents are determined by a formula based on salary, playing time and postseason honors.
The Falcons now have seven picks, in the 26th pick overall in the draft. They traded their fifth-round pick (154) to Denver for offensive tackle Ty Sambrailo on Sept. 1, 2017.
Here are the Falcons’ projected picks: second round (58 overall), third round (90), fourth round (122), sixth round (186) and seventh round (218) and (256).
3. New assistant coaches: The Falcons hired four new assistant coaches this offseason and the team has not be questioned about their hirings. The combine appearance will be the first time that they’ve addressed the hirings to the media.
Greg Knapp was added to coach the quarterbacks as Bush Hamdan went to Washington to become its offensive coordinator. Bernie Parmalee will take over at running backs for Keith Carter, who left to join the Titans’ staff.
Mayur Chaudhari was added as an assistant special teams coach and Chad Walker as an offensive assistant. Chaudhari replaces Eric Sutulovich, who was not retained after nine seasons with the team. Walker replaces Charlie Weis Jr., who left to be the offensive coordinator at Florida Atlantic.
4. Trade talks can start: The Falcons don’t generally make trades at the combine, but the ground work for deals can be laid.
The Falcons’ last two trades have been for offensive linemen and occurred during training camp. The Falcons traded with the Titans for Andy Levitre and for Sambrailo last season.
The Falcons could be in the running for former Broncos starting quarterback Trevor Siemian. Knapp worked out Siemian before the 2015 NFL draft and coached him for two years in Denver.
Matt Schaub, who’ll turn 37 in June, is signed for next season as the backup. Siemian, 26, could be the long-term answer at backup quarterback.
Dimitroff said on the team’s flagship radio station, 92.9 The Game, that there are no plans to trade running back Tevin Coleman.
5. Changes to the catch rule are on the way: The competition committee, which is revising the catch rule, will meet in Indianapolis. They are working on the language to line up with how instant replay has helped to change the definition of a catch.
The committe’s hope is to have the new rule in place by the owner’s meeting in March.