The Falcons put together a 53 man roster we’ll spend plenty of time analyzing before the team inevitably blows it up with a bunch of moves in the coming days, but there was an interesting note in this year’s construction that I suspect some might have missed.
Per Vaughn McClure at ESPN, there are no UDFA rookies on the initial 53 man roster this year.
No undrafted rookies on the initial 53 for the Falcons on a tough year for that transition due to the pandemic. Thought WR Chris Rowland had best shot as a return guy, but Falcons go with more experience in Brandon Powell. I count 12 undrafted players on roster among vets.— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) September 5, 2020
That got me wondering whether that’s ever happened beore in the Dan Quinn era, and it turns out it has not.
Is that the case? Because I’m fond of second-guessing our own writers, I went back and looked. Wouldn’t you know it, DW is correct.
2015: RB Terron Ward, S Robenson Therezie
2016: TE Josh Perkins, CB Brian Poole
2017: LB Jermaine Grace
2018: OT Matt Gono, DT Justin Zimmer, LB Richard Jarvis
2019: WR Olamide Zaccheaus
This list does not include players who have gone from UDFA to practice squad to an important part of the Falcons roster, a list that includes Sharrod Neasman, Jaeden Graham, Christian Blake, and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, among others. The Falcons have made undrafted players a small but integral piece of their roster every season, and up until now they’ve carried at least one impressive undrafted player out of training camp and preseason every single September.
You can likely blame the COVID-19 pandemic for that, with undrafted players inevitably getting zero actual game action to show out against fellow reserves and stand out from players who were initially going to be stronger bets to make the roster. I’m absolutely positive that impacted players like Chris Rowland, who supposedly did quite well in practice but lost the returner gig to Brandon Powell, and Austin Edwards, who reportedly flashed at times at defensive end but was facing off against a raft full of veteran players.
Those undrafted free agents will get their shots to catch on with Atlanta later, because I’m certain we’ll see at least a handful of them on the practice squad when the Falcons assemble that in the next couple of days. For the first time in the Dan Quinn era, though, the initial 53 man roster won’t feature any rookie UDFAs.