This year’s Falcons mandatory minicamp kicks off on Tuesday, June 11 and runs for three days. In the past I’ve compared it to a small oasis in the desert that is June and most of July for football-related news and excitement, and I’d do so again this year. Cherish any news you get out of minicamp, because barring an Allen Bailey signing (which could still happen before Tuesday!) or progress on the upcoming extensions, things are likely to be deathly quiet.
Here are three notes ahead of minicamp.
1) Almost everyone should be there
To the consternation of many, Vic Beasley was not at OTAs. To the consternation of fewer people, neither were Julio Jones and Grady Jarrett. With the possible exception of Jarrett, who is engaged in long-term contract talks that could stretch to the deadline or beyond, Dan Quinn anticipates everyone is going to be there. Jarrett stands to lose something like $88,000 if he doesn’t show up, so I still feel like there’s a strong chance he shows.
This will be our first real chance to get any insight into what the entire 2019 Falcons team might look like, then, at least before injuries and additional changes to the roster throw everything out of whack again.
2) This is a big opportunity for undrafted free agents
It’s only three days, but this is a reasonably veteran roster and the opportunities for undrafted guys will be small. Given how frequently the Falcons churn the end of their roster during the summertime, and given that they’re not guaranteed to get long looks during gametime even with five preseason games in 2019, exposure in settings like these can be the difference between a long look and a mid-July crash landing in free agency.
For players like Tre’ Crawford at linebacker and Parker Baldwin at safety, pushing for that last roster spot might start with making a handful of highlight-reel plays in minicamp to help build on some strong OTAs to this point. If anyone’s going to walk out of minicamp with a real reason to feel good, it’ll be the guys fighting hard just to have a shot to have a shot this summer.
3) We’ll gain some small but important insights from minicamp
A year ago, this was the first time we heard anything concrete about how Jack Crawford was looking in his return from the injury that wiped out most of his 2017. Crawford was able to build on that and put together one of the best seasons of his NFL career, and for most of the 2018 season he was probably the second best guy on the defensive line.
Similarly, it was a key check-in point for Calvin Ridley, who showed off wheels and acrobatic catches at Flowery Branch that ended up carrying over to the regular season. Heck, we even saw Eric Saubert “making the leap,” which didn’t exactly translate to Saubert having a great season but did let us see genuine improvement in his blocking skills heading into 2019. Pay close attention to the reports out of minicamp and the team’s final list of things they’ve learned, because particularly with Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen’s recoveries, that information may be impactful down the line.