Offensive tackle Lamar Holmes was selected by the Atlanta Falcons with the 28th pick in the third round (91st pick overall) of the 2012 NFL Draft, out of the University of Southern Mississippi. He comes into the regular season listed as number two on the Falcons depth chart at the left tackle position.
Holmes, 6’6, 325 lbs, is a big strong offensive lineman who will hopefully end up being the Falcons long-term solution at left tackle. Right now he sits behind fifth-year man, Sam Baker, who has had a disappointing career in Atlanta, marred with injuries and sub-par play.
When the Falcons drafted Holmes, it was thought he would be a good developmental project at tackle, and that he’d have time to learn not only the position in terms of playing in the NFL, but also offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter‘s blocking schemes. The season ending injury to backup left tackle Will Svitek threw a bag of monkey wrenches into that plan.
Once Svitek went down for the season, Holmes was thrust into immediate game action. In the Falcons preseason game against the Miami Dolphins, Holmes hit the field for the first time in a Falcons uniform and he had some positive results. He allowed a little pressure on the quarterback from the left tackle position, but for the most part did a good job against the Dolphins second-team defense.
Falcons head coach Mike Smith noticed as well. “I thought Lamar, for the first time out there playing, did a nice job,” Smith said.
Holmes got even more game time in the final preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and held his own pretty well against both the starters and the reserves on the Jaguars defense.
The thing that you hear coming out of the Falcons camp about Holmes is that he is a great student of the game and that even early on in camp while he was injured, he was present and attentive at every practice.
Holmes admits that the transition from college ball to the NFL has been a more difficult task than he thought.
“I’d be lying to you if I told you it was easy,” Holmes said. “I’ve been behind for a little while. I’ve been working with Coach Hill, coach Smith, all of the trainers; everybody has been doing a little bit to try and help me get back out there.”
With Svitek out, Falcons offensive line coach Pat Hill seems to have made Holmes his personal project. Reports are that they are often seen side by side during practice, and that Hill is there making sure that Holmes has a clear understanding of what is happening on the field. The rookie appreciates the extra attention from his coach.
“The coaches are doing everything possible that they can to try to help me along the way,” Holmes said. “So I feel pretty good about where I’m at right now.”
The left tackle position is crucial in Atlanta’s offensive scheme, so it’s a position that is watched closely by the coaches. With the regular season about to begin, the hope is that Holmes can grow and adapt in a hurry to solidify the left side of the Atlanta offensive line.