Connecticut corneback Dwayne Gratz could be that new long term star for the Atlanta Falcons at cornerback. They need someone who can come right in and start and Gratz definitely can. The Falcons have also shown interest in the corner according to DraftInsider.net's Tony Pauline:
Atlanta Falcons continue search for CB; Blidi Wreh-Wilson & Dwayne Gratz/UConn as well as Will Davis/Utah St brought in for visits...— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) April 17, 2013
Based on his skills, it looks like Gratz would be an ideal fit for Atlanta's defense as either a nickel or a base right corner. Let's explore Gratz's talents here:
University of Connecticut
Height: 5'11-1/8" Weight: 201 pounds
Arm Length: 32-1/8" Hand Measurement: 10-1/2"
40 yard dash: 4.44 sec. 10 yard split: 1.55 sec.
20 yard shuttle: 4.15 sec. 3-cone Drill: 6.70 sec. Bench Reps: 22 reps
Vertical Jump: 38.0" Broad Jump: 10'5"
2012: 12 games played, 53 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 3 interceptions, 1 fumble forced, 11 pass deflections, 1 defensive touchdown
2011: 12 games played, 53 tackles, 4.5 tackles for Loss, 3 interceptions, 1 fumble forced, 1 fumble recovered, 4 pass deflections
2010: 12 games played, 61 tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 1 fumbles forced, 9 pass deflections, 1 defensive touchdown
2009: 13 games played, 20 tackles, 1 fumble recovered, 4 pass deflections, 1 defensive touchdown
While Dwayne Gratz doesn't have the fastest 40-yard dash or the quickest shuttles and cones, he's definitely one of the most athletically gifted corners out there. He's got great strength, speed and leaping abilities and as a whole does extremely well using his talents there.
He likes to jam and press receivers at the line and can also play off-man effectively. He's a hitter as well who loves to come up in run support and make tackles. Best of all, when he goes for a hit, he doesn't try to lead with his helmet the way Dunta Robinson did for years for Atlanta.
While Gratz has good ball skills, he doesn't have great hands and could turn in more interceptions if he worked on those. Also, he doesn't have ideal footwork or backpedal. He takes way too many false steps to be effective in the NFL as he is. A training camp and mini-camp with an NFL-level staff will do him a ton of good and allow him to correct these mistakes.
How does he fit the Comrade Filter?
Gratz is a player who hasn't been arrested nor has he been suspended. He's known as a hard worker and has even won the award for it that Connecticut gives to their "most courageous, hard-working and productive"—the Brian Kozlowski award named after the former Falcons tight end. It's safe to say that Gratz is an ideal fit for the Comrade Filter.
Gratz is a good fit for either nickel, outside corner or could even play a safety role in some packages. He is a very talented player who will have a long career in the NFL. His versatility makes him a much better prospect than other corners, and he could end up going much higher.
How he would fit into the Falcons' plans
The Falcons would have to take him in the second or third round, but he could easily be someone who would start early as at least a third corner for nickel packages. He could play right corner, left corner or nickel and would allow some scheme versatility in the secondary.
All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus's Premium Stats, ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All contract information is courtesy Spotrac and Rotoworld. All recruiting rankings come from 247Sports.com.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!