Falcons Sign Julio Jones, Rest Of 2011 Rookie Draft Class

Last night was somewhat surreal. I think I have blisters on my fingers from all the updates, but they're good blisters.

As Jason Kirk noted last night, the Falcons have reportedly brought aboard Julio Jones, Akeem Dent, Jacquizz Rodgers, Matt Bosher, Andrew Jackson and Cliff Matthews. No long, messy holdouts this time around. Every rookie is on board and ready for training camp, which kicks off bright and early this morning.

The costs were far from exorbitant. Julio Jones will be making $16 million over four years, while Jacquizz Rodgers will reportedly pull down about $2.5 million over the same time. I am loving this new rookie wage scale.

By locking up their rookies, the Falcons have insured that they all have a fighting chance to contribute this season for the Falcons. The team also gets a quick look at guys like Andrew Jackson, who may be called upon for some kind of snaps if and when Justin Blalock or Harvey Dahl leaves. The front office came through yet again.

After the jump, a quick refresher on where I expect all these new Falcons to be playing and how much.

WR Julio Jones: The team's likely future #1 receiver will get plenty of snaps his rookie season between the slot and Michael Jenkins' traditional outside spot. As the most accomplished blocker and arguably the most polished receiver coming out of college in 2011, he should have an immediate impact.

LB Akeem Dent: A classic thumper against the run with room to grow against the pass. He'll start out as a backup and special teamer, but he could get more consistent snaps by the end of the season.

RB Jacquizz Rodgers: With Jerious Norwood gone and Jason Snelling drawing significant interest, Rodgers is a huge sleeper. His unique combination of speed and power, especially for such a small back, makes him the likely change-of-pace for Michael Turner. I'm expecting a terrific freshman campaign.

P Matt Bosher: I think Michael Koenen is all but gone, so look for Bosher to assume punting duties and probably handle kickoffs. He has a chance to make an outsized impact as the only clear Week 1 starter in the draft class, albeit at a widely scorned position.

G Andrew Jackson: A ferocious blocker with a reputation as a playbook scholar, Jackson will likely end up as a backup and part-time special teamer his first time out. He has all the tools to be a future starter, though, so the Falcons will nurture the war hero and president famous for killing the federal bank.

DE Cliff Matthews: A definite special teamer, Matthews will likely be buried on the depth chart at defensive end his first time out. Like Jackson, he has a lot of potential and should be brought along slowly, in the hopes that he can assume a bigger role as soon as 2012.

So that's the Falcon draft class! Welcome them home.

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