This offseason, the Atlanta Falcons added 26 rookies to their roster, 20 of them being undrafted free agents. The folks at Bleacher Report recently graded every NFL team’s UDFA class, including the Falcons, who they gave a “C” grade.
The article reads:
“Two undrafted free agents stand out among the Atlanta Falcons’ class because the organization doubled down at their respective positions. Vanderbilt’s Jared Pinkney was once considered a top tight end prospect, but he didn’t produce during his final year on campus and compounded problems with a poor 40-yard-dash time (4.96) at the NFL Scouting Combine. Even so, he’s a capable H-back behind Hayden Hurst, whom the franchise acquired via a trade with the Baltimore Ravens in March.
The Falcons also signed Arkansas’ Austin Capps, who is listed as a center. The franchise already drafted Matt Hennessy in this year’s third round as a potential Alex Mack replacement. Capps can compete with Hennessy at center, guard or interior utility blocker.”
As you can see above, the article itself mentions specifically tight end Jared Pinkney and center Austin Capps, two young players who no doubt have an opportunity to make an impact, if not this year, in the near future.
With that being said, I think the “C” grade is a little low. I would definitely put this UDFA at a “B” minimum. When you look at the class overall, it has:
DB Delrick Abrams (Colorado), DT Hinwa Allieu (Nebraska-Kearney), OL Hunter Atkinson (Georgia State), C Austin Capps (Arkansas), RB/FB Mikey Daniel (South Dakota State), OT Scottie Dill (Memphis), DE Austin Edwards (Ferris State), DB Rojesterman Farris II (Hawaii), G Justin Gooseberry (Rice), WR Juwan Green (Albany), CB Tyler Hall (Wyoming), OT Evin Ksiezarczyk (Buffalo), DT Sailosi Latu (San Jose State), WR Jalen McCleskey (Tulane), TE Jared Pinkney (Vanderbilt), TE Caleb Repp (Utah State), WR Chris Rowland (Tennessee State), S Ray Wilborn (Ball State), LB Jordan Williams (Baylor), DE Bryson Young (Oregon)
There are a lot of intriguing UDFAs in this year’s class. I’ve been high on hybrid running back Mikey Daniel, who also will play some full back. Daniel brings flexibility to the backfield, similar to Jason Snelling who fans are no doubt familiar with. Daniel told me last month that “They see me as a guy with good “position flexibility” and I will be used in a number of ways – running back, fullback, special teams etc.” I know the backfield is crowded, but Daniel is definitely someone to keep an eye on. I predicted in May that he will make the roster.
The Falcons have been looking for pass rush help for what feels like ever, and two UDFAs who have strong potential are defensive ends Austin Edwards and Bryson Young. Edwards was awarded the highly coveted 2019 Gene Upshaw award, which is given to the best offensive or defensive lineman at the NCAA Division II level. Even in Division II, recording 64 total tackles (17.5 for loss), 10.5 sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in 2019 is impressive. Young is another intriguing option, as he played a hybrid EDGE/LB role at Oregon.
Those mentioned above are just a few of the names to keep an eye out for this summer. With guys like Evin Ksiezarczyk who has an opportunity to make an impact at offensive tackle, Chris Rowland who is a favorite to secure the return specialist job and Sailosi Latu who has the ability to play nose tackle for the Falcons, the class in my opinion, is worthy of a B+. My only hope for this class is that they are given an ample amount of opportunity to showcase their talents and what they can bring to the Falcons, given everything going on with the current pandemic.
No doubt a lot of these guys will land on the Falcons practice squad, which the NFL is reportedly considering moving to 16 players. The other day, the Falcons wrapped up their “Falcons U” online program for rookies. Let’s hope we get to see them on the field soon.