Everyone loves a good underdog story, and few stand as potentially rewarding as when an undrafted rookie makes an NFL roster.
Luckily for you, Dan Quinn says there are a couple of roster spots up for grabs which, hypothetically, could end up being one of your preseason darlings.
Here are the ones that have caught our eye, and should demand a bit of special attention for Friday’s tilt against the Chiefs.
WRs Dontez Byrd/Devin Gray
UDFA WR Dontez Byrd hauled in the biggest play the Falcons had last Friday from fellow UDFA Kurt Benkert. He got a specific mention from Dan Quinn this week.
Byrd’s a guy I figured would get some run this preseason, and right now, he feels like the most prominent offensive face to emerge that went undrafted. It feels like radio silence on sixth-round pick and WR/CB hybrid Russell Gage at the moment, but he’s still got to be the favorite for that sixth WR spot and special teams gunner. Byrd’s most likely fate right now is a sure spot on the practice squad, or latching on with another team as a depth receiver.
He’s working to make his dream of being an NFL player come true; it’s to be determined if that’ll wind up happening in Atlanta.
Also, keep an eye out on WR Devin Gray, who had a few nice moments last weekend and could impress the team in his own right.
RB Malik Williams
All due respect to the electric Tevin Coleman, but the best running back to play for the Falcons last week was former Louisville Cardinal Malik Williams. He’s a big, bruising running back who had a handful of really sound carries for some distance. We all kind of thought after camp reports that former WVU RB Justin Crawford was the guy who would shine in this pool, and for sure, he looks like he’s got some promise. But Williams came out of nowhere with some nice gains. Could the team carry yet another running back?
If Williams keeps doing this, he might force the team’s hand.
G/T Matt Gono
To be honest, the reserve offensive linemen didn’t look so hot the other night, but Gono will continue to be a name to watch with the reps he’s been getting in camp. He’s another one who feels like he’ll land somewhere.
OLB Anthony Winbush
There seems to be an open spot for a depth pass rusher on the roster right now, and Winbush looked as active in getting routine pressure on the Jets’ quarterbacks as anyone in a Falcons uniform Friday. He was a very productive rusher in college at Ball State, if not the most athletic tester you’d find. Pass rushers come in all shapes and sizes, so keep watching to see if Winbush keeps dialing up the heat. He could be this year’s Chris Odom, but if this year’s Chris Odom had a spot available.
ILB Jonathan Celestin
Celestin caught some eyes with his athletic, rangy play against the Jets, and it’s even more impressive when you remember he just joined the team recently. The Falcons are more than likely to keep an undrafted guy at linebacker for depth and special teams than any position on the roster, and the former Minnesota Gopher certainly made a nice case for himself after having such limited time with the team prior. If he starts to ramp up, it could tempt Atlanta to give him bigger reps in practice and perhaps land him a spot on the 53.
K David Marvin
Poor former Bulldog David Marvin didn’t get much of a chance to show his stuff in a last-second FG attempt last week, but with Matt Bryant a game-time decision for Friday, he could be Atlanta’s main kicker once again going into the Chiefs game. Perhaps that’ll be the moment Marvin could prove his worth to the team.
So, that’s our list. Anyone we’re missing? Let us know below, of course.