Yesterday, the Atlanta Falcons were linked to a total of 14 undrafted free agents, with a few more rumored as of the wee hours. Not even a third of those guys will make the team or the practice squad once all is said and done, but for now, excitement reigns.
One thing you'll notice from glancing over the list is that the Falcons mostly used these signings to try out guys at positions of need. I think we'd all agree that the team could always use more depth on the offensive line, in the secondary and along the defensive line. The only guys who don't fit the description are a long snapper and a couple of wide receivers, but hey, they're at least good camp bodies.
Until free agency officially opens—which thankfully isn't that far away—this is the good stuff. Unfortunately, I do have to walk back Noel Devine, now that the report turned out to be wrong and he's signing with the Philadelphia Eagles. And of course, now Stephen Nicholas is reportedly back in the fold, which more than makes up for Devine.
With the Falcons probably passing on free agent pass rushers and seeking to re-sign at least two of their free agent offensive linemen, this might be the biggest news we get for a little bit. Soak it in.
After the jump, I break down my favorite pickups. Check it out.
QB Adam Froman: My personal favorite of the undrafted free agents, Froman is a highly intelligent prospect who I'm already willing to project as the eventual backup to Matt Ryan. We all know that my predictions are as useful as mittens on a scorpion, though.
Still, you can't help but like the Louisville product. Good kid, smart kid, capable kid whose only weakness is a lack of elite arm strength...but he's still got more zip on his throws than JPW. He might supplant Wilson this year.
C Paul Fenaroli: A definite project, Fenaroli is immensely strong and a tough blocker. With the Falcons inking him to a three year deal, he'll have a chance to turn his raw physical tools into a career as at least a backup center. I could see the team carrying him on the practice squad for a year or two to let him develop, and then letting him take over behind Joe Hawley.
OT Matt Murphy: Jason calls him a sleeper pick, and he apparently attracted a lot of attention for the brief time he was out on the open market. At 6'4" and about 310 pounds, Murphy has the size to play tackle, the toughness and lateral ability to play guard and the tenacity to be a pain in the ass for anyone lined up against him. He's much more polished than Fenaroli, and thus more likely to make the final roster if the team loses Tyson Clabo or one/both of Justin Blalock and Harvey Dahl.
DB Kirk Belgrave: The Kent State product isn't going to wow you with his speed, but he's a decently physical player with size at 6'1, 205 pounds. Given that the Falcons have shaky depth at safety, Belgrave might be able to stick there and maybe even pull a few snaps at cornerback in the long run. He's a definite project, though, so look for him to make it as a practice squadder if he makes it at all. I do think he comes with a little upside.
WR D.J. Davis: I know, I know. The last thing we need right now is another wide receiver. But hear me out.
The Falcons are probably going to boot guys like TIm Buckley off the practice squad, and even Brandyn Harvey is no lock to stay there after a disappointing training camp in 2010. That leaves room for someone like Davis to take a spot. In 2010 playing for Oregon, Davis reeled in 42 catches for 470 yards and three touchdowns, decent enough totals but nothing eye-popping.
What I like about him a bit more is his athleticism. At 6'1 and over 200 pounds, he runs a 4.42 40 and by all account has considerable spring in his step. Like almost everyone on this list, he's going to need some seasoning, but he may eventually be a decent depth guy with some special teams value.
So that's my top five list. What's yours?