Every year, the team at least flirts with the idea of carrying an undrafted free agent or two on their roster. There have been some great ones in this team’s history—Brent Grimes and Jessie Tuggle come readily to mind—but mostly
Why “hang around” and not “make the roster?” Because making this roster is such an uphill battle that the only real contenders at a potential third quarterback, a potential starting fullback, and an ultra deep safety reserve. This is more a list of players who offer some intriguing upside and either will push for a roster spot or at least stick around developing on the practice squad in 2018.
Here are few names to watch.
QB Kurt Benkert
Besides having a name that’s fun to say, Benkert offers some interesting upside. He has an NFL-caliber arm and shows flashes of being the kind of quarterback you’d trust as a clipboard holder and emergency option. Then there are times where he stares down receivers, makes poor, inaccurate throws, and rushes his mechanics. All of that needs to be fixed—or at least improved—before the Falcons will even think about trusting him as the primary option behind Matt Ryan.
Benkert could make the roster outright as the third quarterback, however, with the team trimming the fat off another position to make room for him. There are early signs they like him—including a bonus—and he should get a legitimate crack at that spot.
FBs Daniel Marx or Luke McNitt
One of these players seems likely to make the roster unless both falter badly and the team has to pivot to a veteran. I’m sure the Falcons would like nothing more than to sign a dirt cheap, young, block-first fullback for the next few seasons, and with any luck, Marx or McNitt will prove to be one of them. At the moment, I don’t expect the team to add any veteran options to the competition unless, again, they don’t like what they see on the practice field from these two.
TE Jake Roh
I heard on more than one occasion in the pre-draft process that the Falcons really like Roh, who they view as a potentially useful red zone option down the line. The team is likely to let Eric Saubert make his case for a larger role in 2018, but with Alex Gray returning to the team’s 11th practice squad spot, Roh seems like a strong candidate to be the team’s fourth option this year from the practice squad himself.
DL Jacob Tuioti-Mariner
A former UCLA teammate of Takkarist McKinley, Tuioti-Mariner is joining a depth chart that still has no established, full-time fourth defensive tackle. He was part of a shaky run defense, but he also led the team with 7.5 sacks and has experience as both a defensive end and defensive tackle to draw on. He could very well hang on as the last defensive lineman on the roster, though more than likely he’ll be ticketed for the practice squad as J.T. Jones was in 2017.
S Chris Lammons
Our own Alec Shirkey is a fan of Lammons, a hungry safety who had a fine senior season and a dominant bowl game against Michigan. He compared him to Brian Poole in terms of physicality and ability, and there’s currently a vacancy for the team’s fourth safety spot that Lammons can fill if he proves to be a special teams asset. I’d keep an eye on him.
K David Marvin
The Falcons aren’t in the habit of having a kicker take up a practice squad spot, but it may become a habit. Matt Bryant is simply in largely uncharted waters at this point in his career, and while I don’t expect him to slow down this year, the Falcons might be inclined to hedge their bets by having a strong-legged kicker like Marvin around on the practice squad.
As you’ll note from the list below, it hasn’t been easy to make this Falcons roster as an undrafted free agent the same year you come out, and nobody actually made it a year ago. It’s also worth noting that only two players on this list are still with the team: Long-time long snapper Josh Harris and soon-to-be fourth cornerback Brian Poole.
Falcons UDFAs by year, 2012-2017
2016: CB Brian Poole, TE Josh Perkins
2015: RB Terron Ward, S Robenson Therezie
2014: C James Stone
2013: LB Joplo Bartu, LB Paul Worrilow, RB Josh Vaughan, T Terren Jones
2012: LS Josh Harris, WR Kevin Cone