Atlanta drafted a rookie class noteworthy for its versatility. In the early days of offseason work, those players are already getting a chance to show this new Falcons coaching staff how that versatility might benefit the team.
Below is a roundup of some of the noteworthy items from day 2 of minicamp, with a big thanks to Kelsey Conway at AtlantaFalcons.com, D. Orlando Ledbetter at the AJC, Tori McElhaney at The Athletic, and Michael Rothstein with ESPN for their observations.
Arthur Smith said all of the guys will have a chance to “battle it out” during training camp when I asked about Javian Hawkins and what he brings to the offense. Competition continues to be at the center of Arthur Smith’s program— Kelsey Conway (@FalconsKelsey) May 15, 2021
I know everyone’s eager for updates on Javian Hawkins, but that’s all we’re getting for now. I fully expect him to make the final roster with a strong summer, given that the options are not set behind Mike Davis and Atlanta’s already talked up his speed.
Jalen Mayfield and Drew Dalman have both said the same thing when we've talked to them: They are trying to be the best offensive lineman they can be. Not left guard, not center, not tackle. The best lineman. Said they're bouncing around.— Tori McElhaney (@tori_mcelhaney) May 15, 2021
TQ said he's played a few different spots across the d-line and Darren Hall has been playing primarily corner and nickel over the last couple days.— Tori McElhaney (@tori_mcelhaney) May 15, 2021
It’s difficult to know how any of this will translate when the veterans are present, but I think Atlanta’s sincere about trying these guys in multiple roles. The reality is that Atlanta has depth needs everywhere and starting jobs up for grabs along both lines and in the secondary, so for guys like Dalman, Graham, Hall and Mayfield, being able to credibly slot in at multiple spots gives them a real chance of contributing in 2021.
Graham is an interesting player because of his power and because of his proven ability to do just what he claims: Rush the passer from a variety of positions. He needs time to improve his skills, of course, but there’s a solid chance he winds up part of the defensive line rotation if he looks good this summer. Remember, the Falcons don’t exactly have a ton of proven options to get after the quarterback in the first place.
Falcons HC Arthur Smith on Avery Williams: He's starting out in the DB room but "obviously on fourth down, that's where we want him to have an impact."— Michael Rothstein (@mikerothstein) May 15, 2021
Said if he can handle the initial roles he's given, then they'll try to expand it.
Williams is one of the most intriguing players in this draft class, which is saying something when this class includes Kyle Pitts and Richie Grant. It sounds like he may well carve out a role on defense over the long haul, but as expected, special teams is where he’ll make his name in 2021. Expect him to be a gunner and possibly this team’s punt returner.
First time seeing a lot of these guys in person so getting a good look at their size. I like the build of Jalen Mayfield and UDFA Bryce Hargrove. Also, Richie Grant is a little leaner/longer than I thought.— Tori McElhaney (@tori_mcelhaney) May 14, 2021
As always, it’s difficult to pull many big picture observations about a three day camp that only features the rookies. It’s worth filing away Bryce Hargrove’s name as an interesting player, given Atlanta’s unsettled offensive line depth and the team’s evident appreciation for him.
Rookie minicamp wraps up today, and we’ll see what other interesting tidbits come to the fore. I’m not wishing the summer away, but I’m increasingly eager to see this team on the field.