The Falcons were the lucky team to land Jacob Pedersen (pronounced Peh-Turr-Son) as an undrafted free agent. If you've been under a rock and
suck at life aren't familiar with Pedersen, he's a tight end. He catches, he blocks, and he generally footballs well. He's got undeniable talent, despite his lack of ideal size and straight line speed. The Wisconsin product isn't the mid-round prospect many Falcons fans were hoping for, but as an undrafted free agent, he may be a steal.
Not only did he have 17 career receiving TDs at Wisconsin, Pedersen has notewothy versatility as a blocker. He did a little bit of everything for the Badgers and he profiles as a combo H-Back/occasional FB/special teams player/rotational tight end in the NFL. Strangely, if there's a knock on Pedersen, it's his size/strength. At 6'3 and just under 240 pounds, there's considerable chatter about his lack of strength. It certainly didn't help his cause when he didn't bench press at the combine or his pro day.
His critics say he just can't block in the NFL. They say he'll be overpowered by NFL defensive ends, and that there's no use having him line up in line. That could be a poor scheme fit for the Falcons, who recently announced their omission of an "F" tight end, also referred to as a "Move" tight end. Instead, they will rely heavily on a "Y" tight end. The "Y" tight end will line up in line, as opposed to outside, potentially making a player like Pedersen extraneous.
But what all Pedersen's critics overlook is his versatility. Ask those that saw him play at Wisconsin; the kid's a willing blocker, capable of doing all sorts of things on a football field.
Before the draft, Pedersen cited his versatility as a key asset in his skill set. He's played the more standard "Y" tight end position, but mostly worked as an H-Back, while also playing in the slot at times. He was the 2012 Kwalick-Clark Big Ten Tight End of the Year, and in 2013 was tied for second on the team in receptions with 39. He finished his Wisconsin career with the most touchdown receptions from a tight end with 17. His ability to play different positions, along with his special teams work, will help him get looks in training camp.
I'll say this, as undrafted free agents go, I'm impressed. I'd like him to gain 15-20 pounds, and I do think that's reasonable, given his frame. Pedersen drew praise from the media and coaching staff alike during the rookie mini-camp. If he's serious about making this team, that's a step in the right direction.
If I'm Levine Toilolo, I'll probably not lose sleep at night. In Bear Pascoe, the Falcons already have a blocking tight end, so what Pedersen may bring to the table is versatility. He can play on special teams, he can give a different look while spotting Toilolo, he can generally appease the Falcons' strong desire to fill out their team with University of Wisconsin alumni, etc.