The Atlanta Falcons first pick didn’t come until the second day of the 2012 NFL Draft, when they selected Peter Konz out of Wisconsin at No. 55 overall. The 6-foot-5-inch, 317 pound offensive lineman started 31 games at center during his tenure with the Badgers, and received several accolades during his college playing days, including being named a first-team All-American by AFCA and Pro Football Weekly.
Konz was the top-ranked center coming out of college this year. Many scouts and analysts projected him as a first-round pick, and a good majority of mock drafts had him off the boards in Round 1. As he slid to the later rounds, he became too good of a value for Atlanta to pass up.
A fair amount of mocks had the Green Bay Packers taking Konz with their first pick. Konz is happy to be in Atlanta instead.
“Well, little do people know this, but I was never a Packers fan growing up,” said Konz. “I was around people that told me not to, so when the Falcons were in the Super Bowl, I was doing the ‘Dirty Bird’ with the rest of them.”
Falcons fans should already be impressed.
A vital part of Wisconsin’s offensive success, Konz helped make room for the 235.6 rushing yards per game the Badgers averaged in 2011. He was on the frontline of history, as Montee Ball rushed for a record-tying 39 touchdowns last year behind Konz and the likes of the bruising Wisconsin O-linemen.
He wasn’t only impressive on the field. His work ethic in the classroom was another aspect Atlanta likely found highly appealing. Konz was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten Conference selection at Wisconsin.
His unnatural height for a center is something often noted, but he plays the part well despite what critics say. For now, guard might be the best fit for him on the Falcons depth chart. Todd McClure signed on for another season, so he will likely keep the position he’s held for years now.
In fact, general manager Thomas Dimitroff said that Konz was drafted as a guard-center, not a center.
“I can’t emphasize enough how important it is Konz can play both guard and center,” Dimitroff said. “We have him listed as a guard-center.”
Konz can slide over to right guard for 2012. That spot gave the Falcons trouble last season, as several players were often rotated in and out while they attempted to find the right fit. Unfortunately, the position was never really won.
Konz was asked if he ever played anywhere other than center. “Never played, just practiced,” Konz said. His main competition appears to be Vince Manuwai, a seasoned veteran at guard. Konz certainly isn’t a lock to take any position right away, but he has the skills and determination to step at guard if the Falcons ask him to.
When asked if Atlanta had spoken to him about playing center or guard, he said, “No conversations yet, but I’ll do anything. At Wisconsin, they made sure I knew tackle, guard and center.
“Anywhere I can help the team, that’s my responsibility.”