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Falcons Sign Host Of Young Players To Reserve/Future Contracts

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I'm so late to this party that the keg is being rolled out the door, but I did want to call your attention to a raft of young players the Atlanta Falcons have brought aboard on reserve/future contracts.

Basically, these were guys who were not on any team's active roster, and will probably be ticketed for the practice squad in the year ahead, if they make it that far. There's some familiar and interesting names on this list. I'd like to list them, with notes for the interesting ones. Hope you won't mind.

  • QB D.J. Shockley. Everyone knows Shock by now. He'll be in the running to knock off John Parker Wilson in 2010, and his familiarity with the team makes him at least somewhat valuable to have around.
  • RB Antone Smith. Small, fast and tough, Smith could actually have a shot at cracking the active roster if Jerious Norwood is not retained. He probably won't be a feature back at any point in his career, but only a handful of backs ever are. I see him as a useful piece of the 2010 squad.
  • WR James Swinton. Originally envisioned as a kick returner type, Swinton's pretty quick and is supposed to be able to catch a little, so he could end up being next year's Eric Weems. He still has a lot to prove, though, and Weems is already on the active roster.
  • WR Andy Strickland
  • C Blake Schlueter
  • C Rob Bruggeman. Am I reading into this too much, or is it telling that the Falcons inked a couple of centers? Todd McClure isn't getting any younger, bless his heart.
  • G Jose Valdez
  • DE Maurice Lucas

Out of all these names, the two centers and Antone Smith are probably most likely to get a shot at the active roster sometime in the future, though I wouldn't rule out Shockley or Swinton. I'm always interested to see where these guys end up.

Your thoughts?