Looking at the Falcons 90 player roster, there’s actually a good pool of talent that, if they can play as a cohesive unit, can make some noise in the NFC South. On this roster, as is every offseason, you have your players that are roster locks, your players that are likely to make the roster, and those players that are fighting for a spot.
This is the fun time of the year where we take a much deeper look at the players on the roster to see where the overlooked talent is and who should be considered as possible surprises on the roster. There are definitely a few players on this roster this offseason that shouldn’t be counted out as the Falcons continue to work on solidifying their roster, and I certainly have those that I consider my hidden gems, even if a couple of them are a bit less hidden than others.
WR Olamide Zaccheaus
I must admit, Zaccheaus was certainly a favorite of mine coming out of Virginia. His stature seems to be the primary reason he was undrafted (5’8 180 lbs), but he was highly productive in VA as a RB/WR hybrid. Being that the top of the position is virtually locked down, Zaccheaus has a chance to stick again due to his speed and versatility.
Plus, he’s in the mix at PR/KR on special teams as well. Oh, and let’s not forget his lovely 93 yard TD reception in week 14 last season against the Panthers. I fully expect Zaccheaus to improve as a WR, he will also carve out a role on ST as he did last season, and I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see some more explosive plays out of him this season. He's the kind of player who can make a lot out of a few opportunities.
DE/DT John Cominsky
Because of the news that has surrounded the pass rush (or lack thereof), it’s easy to overlook Cominsky and talk about Dante Fowler, Marlon Davidson, and even Charles Harris. After reviewing film of the last few games he played last season, Cominsky actually had some very productive snaps.
Even this season, after acquiring Fowler in free agency and Davidson in the draft, it’s not hard to forget that Cominsky is in the defensive line rotation and realize what he can bring with plus athleticism, or that he will he expected by the Coach Quinn and crew to step in and take the snaps that will be vacated by Jack Crawford. If Cominsky can show progress from where he was last year in regards to using his length and hands to his advantage, then he will already be an asset to the defensive line and can be more productive than most expect, and may even be a vital part of the rotation.
FB/RB Mikey Daniel
The Falcons actually got some steals in undrafted free agency in my mind. This kid coming out of South Dakota State was a surprise to me on film. Surprising explosive and agile for a player that’s 6’2” and 235 lbs, Daniel actually made the move to FB hoping he’d stick to a team there.
I have to say though, his versatility out of the backfield can’t be overlooked and if he shows promise at FB when he was an RB in college, he really could force an incumbent in the position group off the roster. Dirk Koetter isn't necessarily married to any of these backs, given that most joined the team before he arrived.
TE Jared Pinkney
To me, Pinkney was a victim of circumstance and scheme in his last year at Vanderbilt. His junior year, he had 50 receptions for 774 yards and 7 Touchdowns, and was seen as one the better tight ends in college football.
His senior year saw a big dip in production, but that’s not an indictment on him as a football player, given the level of quarterback play. He still can be a good in-line TE, given that he is a hard worker who is also a willing blocker with good hands. Considering the Falcons are relatively thin at the TE position, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him stick, because Pinkney has all the tools to be a better pro than a college player.
DE Austin Larkin
I’ve been beating the table for Larkin for quite some time now. When given opportunities in preseason, the hard working Larkin has been solid and productive.
I’m not exactly sure why Quinn and staff haven’t given him a longer look given what he has shown, but they certainly keep bringing him back, which means they see something there.
Now the Falcons front office continues to add talent to the defensive line this offseason, but if given the chance, I just think that Larkin will force the staff to give him playing time this season in the defensive line rotation. He should be an early favorite for the last spot on the line.