FLOWERY BRANCH – Normally, there is an inordinate amount of attention flashed upon undrafted rookie free agents.
A lot of the “Twitter GMs” obsess over these roster-lottery-longshots. The “Message Board Moguls” ponder possible fantasy football implications.
It’s normally a futile excercise as most of them will back on the streets in a few weeks. Mostly, they will have stories to tell their grand children about going to training camp with an NFL team.
Projecting the players who have a legitimate chance to make the 53-man roster is like picking a needle in a haystack.
A few years back, former Falcons scout Bruce Plummer tipped the AJC off on Brent Grimes. Plummer, a former NFL defensive back, was the first to publicly say “keep an eye on” the prospect he discovered at Shippensburg. Plummer was correct and Grimes turned into a Pro Bowl player after being developed.
Last season two of the Falcons’ top tacklers – linebacker Joplo Bartu and Paul Worrilow – and two of the reserve offensive lineman – Ryan Schrader and Terren Jones — came from this group. Also, wide receiver Darius Johnson and defensive tackle turned offensive guard Adam Replogle were undrafted rookies in 2013.
Therefore we must comb over the 2014 class to see if the Falcons’ personnel department has found any gems or potential solid developmental players.
This group of players is vitally important to the future of the franchise. With quarterback Matt Ryan’s $113.75 million contract, wide receiver Roddy White’s possible extension and wide receiver Julio Jones’ forth coming deal, the Falcons must continue to find cheap talent.
Overall, the Falcons signed 20 undrafted players after the draft. One player, punter Matt Yoklic, of Pittsburgh, was released on June 11.
After reviewing the offseason practices and discussing some players with the position coaches, here are five players to watch when training camp practice starts on July 25:
Jeff Mathews, QB, Cornell, 6-4, 225: He set 47 school records at Cornell and has a nice delivery. The Falcons plan to keep just two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, so he’s in a battle with Sean Renfree for the practice squad spot. Renfree, a seventh-round pick in 2013 from Duke, is coming off shoulder surgery.
Devonta Glover-Wright, CB, Utah State, 6-0, 174: He has the athleticism and speed that the Falcons covet. He’s a bigger corner with great leaping ability. He has the physical tools and if he accepts the coaching, they’d like to develop him. The former Campbell Spartan has a shot.
Bernard Reedy, WR, Toledo, 5-9,175: The key with receivers is not to over-rate their performances in shorts and shirts. They all look good. This is called the “Laurent Robinson Rule.” Remember him? He looked like the second-coming of Jerry Rice after being drafted in the third-round of 2007, but once the pads went on, he was normally on the sidelines hurt. Reedy has blazing speed, but let’s wait to see if he can get open and be consistent when the pads go on.
Jacob Pederson, TE, Wisconsin, 6-5, 240: With the Falcons restructuring the tight end position, Pederson has a shot for the third spot or perhaps a practice squad slot. He caught the ball well, but will need to bulk-up to handle the blocker requirements of the position. He finished his career ranked No. 7 all-time at Wisconsin with 17 touchdown receptions, the most by a tight end in school history. He also finished his career ranked No. 16 in receiving yards with 1,394.
Geraldo Boldewijn, WR, Boise State, 6-4, 220: He’s the most impressive looking prospect of the undrafted rookies. He could help the team initially on the practice squad by giving the secondary a big body to work against in practice. Several “big” receivers were added to the NFC South this offseason.
TRAINING CAMP SCHEDULE
Date Practice Times (public availability)
Tuesday, July 22 Rookies report
Wednesday, July 23 Veterans report
Friday, July 25 Practice 3:30 – 5:50 p.m. (open to the public)
Saturday, July 26 Practice 3:30 – 5:50 p.m. (open to the public)
Sunday, July 27 Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)
Monday, July 28 Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)
Tuesday, July 29 Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)
Wednesday, July 30 Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)
Thursday, July 31 Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)
Friday, August 1 “Friday Night Lights” at Archer High School (Lawrenceville)
6:45 – 9:10 p.m. (open to the public)
Saturday, August 2 Practice 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. (open to the public)
Sunday, August 3 Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)
Monday, August 4 Combined Practice w/Tennessee 3-5:30 p.m. (open to the public)
Tuesday, August 5 Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)
Wednesday, August 6 Practice 3:30 – 6:05 p.m. (open to the public)
Thursday, August 7 Pregame Walkthrough (No Media Availability)
Friday, August 8 Falcons vs. Miami Dolphins
7:00 p.m. ET – CW69
Saturday, August 9 Practice 4:30 – 5:45 p.m. (open to the public)
Sunday, August 10 Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)
Monday, August 11 Practice 3:30 – 5:50 p.m. (open to the public)
Tuesday, August 12 Practice 10:00 a.m. – 12:35 p.m. (open to the public)
Wednesday, August 13 Combined Practice w/ Houston Texans (Houston, TX)
Thursday, August 14 Combined Practice w/ Houston Texans (Houston, TX)
Friday, August 15 Pregame Walkthrough (No Media Availability)
Saturday, August 16 Falcons at Houston Texans
8:00 p.m. ET – CW69
Sunday, August 17 Players’ Day Off (No Media Availability)
Monday, August 18 Practice 10:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. (closed to the public)
MANDATORY MINICAMP REVIEW
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