The 2023 NFL Draft is behind us, with the Atlanta Falcons coming away with six rookies in total. I quite liked the class and believe fans who are skeptical will warm up very quickly once we get to see these players in action over the summer and into the season.
Draft picks aren’t the only rookies Atlanta added, however, as the team announced six undrafted free agent (UDFA) signings on Monday. That brings the current roster to 89, leaving room for one more signing heading into rookie minicamp and OTAs over the next month. I’d expect to see roster shuffling continue throughout the summer, as veterans may come available that the team is interested in.
As we wait to see these players for ourselves on the practice field, I did some digging to find a bit more info on each of Atlanta’s six UDFA signings. Overall, this is a more intriguing group—particularly at wide receiver—than initially expected.
DL Ikenna Enechukwu, Rice
Ikenna Enechukwu was a two-year starter at Rice who put together back-to-back seasons of at least 9.0 TFL and 4.5 sacks in 2021 and 2022. He’s got good size at 6’4, 264 and over 33.5” arms to go along with excellent straight-line speed and explosiveness. Enechukwu is a poor lateral mover, however, and a potential move to the interior could be in his future.
WR Keilahn Harris, Oklahoma Baptist
Keilahn Harris is a tough player to find any information on. The athletic testing from his Pro Day was quite poor (he ran in the range of 4.68s-4.80s in the 40), but he looks plenty athletic on tape. He was a very productive player at D2 Oklahoma Baptist, putting up 80 receptions for 1,050 yards (13.1 YPR) and also returned kicks for a 22.4 yards/return average.
LB Mike Jones Jr., LSU
Mike Jones Jr. began his career at Clemson before transferring to LSU for his final two seasons. He’s a solid athlete, coverage specialist, and quality special teams player. He lost playing time this year after starting in 2021 and measured in quite small for the position at 5’11.5, 227. A move to “big nickel” safety could be in play for Jones Jr., who generally had his best reps in coverage.
WR Xavier Malone, Henderson State
Xavier Malone was a community college transfer to D2 Henderson State, where he played his 2021 and 2022 seasons. Malone is undoubtedly small (5’7.5, 182), but he’s got elite deep speed (4.36s 40) and explosiveness. He obliterated the competition, piling up 67 receptions for 1,382 yards (19.8 YPR!) and 15 (!!) receiving TDs. Oh, and he also threw a TD pass on a trick play. I’m very intrigued to see what Malone can do in camp, as there’s plenty of opportunity for one of these UDFA receivers to make the 53-man roster.
WR Justin Marshall, Buffalo
The most well-known of Atlanta’s UDFA signings, Buffalo’s Justin Marshall had a breakout season in 2022 after transferring to Buffalo from Louisville: 64 receptions for 837 yards (13.1 YPR) and 9 TDs. A bigger-bodied receiver with explosive traits and good long speed, Marshall certainly looks the part of an Arthur Smith receiver. He’s got excellent hands, is tough at the catch point, and made a living as a jump ball specialist deep downfield. In a very unsettled WR room, Marshall has a shot at the 53-man roster.
RB Carlos Washington Jr., Southeastern Louisiana
Carlos Washington Jr. began his career at New Hampshire before transferring to Southeastern Louisiana for his final season. He rushed for 715 yards on 147 carries (4.86 YPC) and 15 TDs, along with 22 receptions for 141 yards (6.41 YPR). Washington Jr. is a tough runner with good short-area quickness—he handles contact well and is fearless between the tackles. With Caleb Huntley likely to be sidelined for all of training camp (or more), Washington Jr. will have increased opportunities.
What do you think about Atlanta’s 2023 UDFA class? Who do you think has the best chance at making the roster and/or practice squad?