Each day leading up to the start of training camp, we’ll look at a major issue that faces the Falcons and head coach Dan Quinn as he’s set to enter his third season with the team.
FLOWERY BRANCH — For the first time since Tyson Clabo was manning the position, the Falcons will enter 2017 with a firmly entrenched starter in Ryan Schraeder.
Schraeder, who was undrafted out of Valdosta State, continued to develop last season and was rewarded with a five-year, $33 million contract.
The game against the Denver Broncos last season against the then-reigning Super Bowl most valuable player Von Miller was a big one. Schraeder battled Miller and held him to one sack and four hurries as he showed his worthiness against top-flight competition.
Schraeder, 29, signed a one-year $2.553 million make-good contract after the 2015 season after the Falcons placed a second-round tender on him. His new contract, which included $7.5 million in guaranteed money, locks him up through the 2021 season.
Schraeder was signed in 2013 and has started 46 regular-season games over four seasons. He’s played in 58 games.
The name of the game in the NFL is to get young players for cheap, but it doesn’t make sense to not reward those players after the team has invested in their development.
Last season, Schraeder knew it was a big day in Denver and he followed it up with another big day in Seattle against Michael Bennett.
The good news for the Falcons was that Schraeder’s ankle ligament injury that he suffered in the Super Bowl did not require surgery. He was moving around well during OTAs and the mandatory minicamp.
What’s remarkable is that Schraeder didn’t even play football in high school. He had a late growth spurt from 5-foot-7 to 6-7, went to Kansas State for one year strictly as a student, and then played football at Butler (Kan.) Community College before finally making his way to Valdosta State.
“Every NFL scout that came to me and talked to me about him, I kept saying his best football was in front of him and he hadn’t reached his potential because it was so early in his career,” former Valdosta State coach David Dean said back in 2015. (He’s now at West Georgia.)
At Valdosta State, Schraeder was a two-time All-American who won a national championship in 2012 while playing with guard Edmund Kugbila, a product of Central Gwinnett High. The Carolina Panthers drafted Kugbila in the fourth round of the 2013 draft, but a series of injuries prevented him from playing a game.
With the Falcons, Schraeder was just a rookie free agent from a lower-division program back in 2013. A series of injuries along the offensive line opened a chance for him to make the team and he played in 13 games (four starts). He had with mixed results as a rookie. Schraeder steadily improved until he became a solid starter by the end of the 2014 season.
Now, Schraeder is a mainstay on the Falcons’ offensive line.
Here’s the training camp schedule:
Wednesday, July 26th — Team Reports for Camp
Thursday, July 27th — Practice: 9:30 a.m. – Gates open to public at 8:30 a.m.
Friday, July 28th — Practice 9:30 a.m. – Gates open to public at 8:30 a.m.
Saturday, July 29th — Practice 9:30 a.m. – Gates open to public at 8:30 a.m.
Sunday, July 30th — Practice 9:30 a.m. – Gates open to public at 8:30 a.m.
Monday, July 31st — Players Off
Tuesday, August 1st — Practice 9:30 a.m. – Gates open to public at 8:30 a.m.
Wednesday, August 2nd — Practice 9:30 a.m. – Gates open to public at 8:30 a.m.
Thursday, August 3rd —Practice 9:30 a.m. – Gates open to public at 8:30 a.m.
Friday, August 4th — Practice 5:05 p.m. – Gates open to the public at 4:05 p.m.
Saturday, August 5th —Players Off
Sunday, August 6th — Practice 9:45 a.m. – Gates open to the public at 8:15 a.m.
Monday, August 7th — Practice 9:30 a.m.
Tuesday, August 8th — Practice 9:30 a.m.
Wednesday, August 9th — Walkthrough
Thursday, August 10th — at Miami Dolphins – 7:00 p.m.
Friday, August 11th — Walkthrough
Saturday, August 12th — Players Off
Sunday, August 13th — Practice 9:30 a.m.
Monday, August 14th —Practice 9:30 a.m.
2017 ATLANTA FALCONS 90-MAN ROSTER ANALYSIS
THE FALCONS 2017 DRAFT