Today, we're going to mine the Falcons roster for sleepers. You might want a helmet.
My basic criteria here was this: The guy has to be either a low-round draft pick or undrafted. He has to have little chance of making the roster, on the surface. And he has to have an intriguing set of skills that belies his draft position, or lack thereof. After combing the roster and doing some reading and watching of video, I've got a list of four guys that none of you will agree with. Oh, blogging!
These are guys who probably have less than a 50 percent chance of making the final roster. Some of them may not even have a 25 percent chance. Feel free to weigh in with your own percentages, and check out my choices after the jump.
WR P.J. Gore
At 6'2" and just under 200 pounds, Gore absolutely dominated at the small college level, averaging over 20 yards a catch. Mars Hill graduates are not on the fast-track to NFL success, however, so the production only tells part of the story.
In many ways, Gore is this year's Brandyn Harvey. He's got good size—though I'll freely admit he's not as big as Harvey—and from the accounts trickling out of training camp, it sounds like he's fast and has well-developed hands for a small school product. He's far from a lock to make the roster with the Falcons already carrying five receivers, but he could bob up on the practice squad and make some noise down the line. Watch him.
CB Darrin Walls
I had to watch a little Darrin Walls game tape before I got excited about him, but I'm there now.
At 6 feet, Walls has good size for a corner. He's also somewhat of a burgeoning ballhawk, with five interceptions in college and well over a dozen passes defensed. Walls is athletic, fluid and capable, but he is prone to the boneheaded mistake and fits of lax coverage. That contributes to his uphill battle at a position where the Falcons still could use help.
Like Gore, his likeliest landing spot is the practice squad. Put a few coats of polish on him and he's a future backup cornerback, and potentially a darn good one.
OG Matt Murphy
The shallowest of the deep sleepers, and I don't mean because of his taste in women.
On paper, Murphy is about as good a fit as you can get for the Atlanta Falcons. He started 46 consecutive games in college, won a character award, graduated from college and clocks in at a robust 6'4" and 300 pounds. He also happens to be a guard, a position where the team's depth is not as good as it was before Harvey Dahl went to the Rams.
Of course, life is rarely so clean and elegant. Murphy will have to play well enough to win a spot, something I suspect he'll be able to do if given the opportunity. Out of the four guys I've listed here, he's got the best shot to actually stick on the active roster as a fourth or fifth guard.
LB Bear Woods
I knew you were all waiting for Bear Woods.
Despite never making a splash on the active roster after a pre-season spent as everyone's darling, Woods is still a capable linebacker. The Falcons kept him on the practice squad because he's a sure tackler, a good athlete and a quick learner. That's not enough to make him an elite linebacker at any point, necessarily, but he could make for a good backup to Curtis Lofton.
Clouding the picture at the moment is Akeem Dent, who has primarily practiced inside. His fate will be determined by whether the coaching staff views Woods as a capable outside linebacker and whether Spencer Adkins sticks, most likely. I like his chances of sticking around in some form or another.