A Closer Look at Zeke Motta

Yesterday we took a closer look at Falcons fourth round pick Malliciah Goodman. Today we dive a little bit deeper in the draft and venture further from the line of scrimmage. The Falcons received very solid play from the Safety position last year as both Thomas DeCoud and William Moore made the Pro Bowl as alternates. Despite having two starters locked into position, their back-ups are very much in question.

Last year during the summer the Falcons signed Chris Hope to a one year contract and he was a solid back-up and spot fill-in but as of right now he remains an unsigned free agent. This puts 2012 sixth round pick Charles Mitchell and Shann Shillinger (who is returning from an injury) as the back-ups at the safety position. Mitchell never really saw the field last season and Shillinger has been more of a special teams guy during his career so the opportunity is there for Motta to make this squad.

The big question on Motta is if he can transition from the college game to the pro game. He's been labeled as a "tweener" that is too slow to play safety and not big enough to play linebacker. NFL.com speculated that Motta could have been drafted in the first 100 picks in the draft. As it turns out he went 244th to the Falcons as one of their compensatory picks.

With rookie camps looming this weekend, we had questions about Motta so we turned to our resident Notre Dame expert, The Subway Domer, to learn more about this intriguing draft pick…


Grits Blitz:  What do you see as Motta's strengths and weaknesses?

Subway Domer: Motta's biggest strength is his physical and smart play which smoothes out his biggest weakness which, of course, is his speed (or lack there of). There were times last year when Motta would get absolutely torched by elite speed wide receivers, but his hit or adjustment to the ball made for a nice pass defend. 
Honestly, he's one of those players that plays much faster than his 40 time, but is suspect for a play or two during the game. He's a student of the game and his reads and checks go a long way in helping his defense whether it be against the pass or against the run. 
Grits Blitz: There is a lot of talk about Motta being a "tweener". Where do you see his position in the NFL? Is he a safety, a linebacker or maybe a guy that Mike Nolan can use as a "big" nickel back?
Subway Domer: Interesting enough, Motta was tagged as an outside linebacker coming out of high school. When ND made the switch to the 3-4 (or its variation of it), Motta made the move early in his career to safety. I can't see him playing as an outside backer in the NFL and I can't really see him as an every down safety. The big nickel, is a perfect spot for him and what gives him real value in the league. 
Grits Blitz: What type of player can Motta be in the NFL?
Subway Domer: Motta brings a lot to the table, but I don't believe he will ever be a starter- at least as a long term option. His role will most likely be on special teams and in certain defensive packages. That isn't a bad thing. He's a good teammate and a hard worker and he will have the will to prove himself, which can be a very powerful ally.
As a 7th round draft pick, this is a very safe bet. In the end, I believe Motta does make the team and does exactly what I have been saying. He will play a strong special teams role and will be used in package situations at safety and nickel. 

About Kevin Causey

dry humorist, craft beer enthusiast, occasionally unbiased SEC fan, UGA alumni, contributor for The Student Section, This Given Sunday and Crossover Chronicles