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D. Orlando LedbetterD. Orlando Ledbetter

5 undrafted rookies to watch in training camp

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Falcons rookie QB Jeff Mathews looks to throw during the minicamp. Atlanta Falcons players workout during the second day of mini-camp at the team's facilities in Flowery Branch, Wednesday, June 18, 2014. (KENT D. JOHNSON/KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM)

Falcons rookie QB Jeff Mathews looks to throw during the minicamp. Atlanta Falcons players workout during the second day of mini-camp at the team’s facilities in Flowery Branch, Wednesday, June 18, 2014. (KENT D. JOHNSON/KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM)

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.

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Falcons cornerback Devonta Glover-Wright (43) catches a throw during the mini-camp. Atlanta Falcons players workout during the second day of mini-camp at the team’s facilities in Flowery Branch, Wednesday, June 18, 2014. (KENT D. JOHNSON/KDJOHNSON@AJC.COM)

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.

CLICK HERE to look at the rest of the undrafted rookie class.

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

                                                                Georgia Dome

                                                                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

                                                                NRG Stadium

                                                                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)

                                                                Break Camp

MANDATORY MINICAMP REVIEW

Q&A with Falcons QB T.J. Yates

Falcons to practice with Titans, Texans in training camp

Falcons coach Mike Smith will try to rebound from first losing season on Hard Knocks 

Sam Baker is back to help line re-establish its identity

Falcons WR Roddy White: ‘Hard for me to deal with’ death of a brother

How much the Falcons rookies will be paid

Rookies getting advice on NFL life

Open competition in training camp will be good for Undrafted Rookies

 THE LATEST FROM OTAS

Sean Weatherspoon suffers season-ending Achilles injury

What’s next for Sean Weaatherspoon?

What’s next for the Falcons at linebacker?

Javier Arenas gets to watch longtime role model

Falcons cut Szczerba, Yoklic

Falcons minicamp is open to the public

VIDEO CORNER

Sean Weatherspoon to miss 2014 season

Matt Ryan on Harry Douglas’ contribution to the offense

Falcons defensive line coach Bryan Cox

Falcons tight end Levine Toilolo

Falcons assistant head coach Terry Robiskie on Devin Hester

Falcons coach Mike Smith on OTAs

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