The Atlanta Falcons announced the signings of four more 2015 draft picks yesterday, bringing their total to five. Cornerback Jalen Collins, wide receiver Justin Hardy, offensive tackle Jake Rodgers and cornerback Akeem King all agreed to terms on four-year contracts. Their signings came on the heels of defensive tackle Grady Jarrett inking his deal on Friday. Their signings leave just first-round defensive end Vic Beasley and third-round running back Tevin Coleman as the remaining members of their 2015 draft class unsigned.
Collins was selected in the second round of the draft and is currently sitting out rookie minicamp as he tries to overcome offseason foot surgery. Hardy was a fourth-round selection and is expected to compete for a reserve role behind starting wide receivers Julio Jones and Roddy White this season. Rodgers is expected to compete for the team’s depleted depth at offensive tackle, while King will do the same at cornerback. Both were seventh-round selections.
The team also announced the signings of two more undrafted players in offensive tackle Matt Huffer and cornerback Jonathon Mincy. Both Huffer and Mincy were among 22 players that tried out for the Falcons this past week. To make room for the pair, the Falcons released defensive tackle Chris Brown, cornerback Jordan Ozerities and wide receiver Joshua Stangby. The latter three were among the original 19 undrafted free agents that the team signed earlier this week.
Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun was the first to report Huffer’s imminent signing. Huffer played at South Dakota, where he likely caught the Falcons’ eye when they were looking at his former teammate in outside linebacker Tyler Starr, who the team selected with a seventh-round pick in 2014’s draft. Huffer started his final 34 games over three seasons at left tackle. At his pro day, he measured in at 6’6″ and 285 pounds, clocked a 40-yard dash in 5.44 seconds and also lifted 225 pounds 12 times on the bench press.
Currently, the Falcons have Jake Matthews and Ryan Schraeder atop the depth chart at offensive tackle. But Matthews is nursing a foot injury that is likely to keep him on the sideline until training camp and Lamar Holmes has been replacing him at left tackle through the early part of the Falcons’ offseason program. Fellow offensive tackle Sam Baker is also recovering from a knee injury that sidelined him last year, but there have been several rumors as of late that he may be making the move inside to left guard. Not to mention, the remaining possibility that the Falcons could cut him later this month as a post-May 12 release.
The May 12 is the new deadline for what formerly was known as the June 1 deadline. That deadline relates to the ability of NFL teams to cut players and not have all of the remaining portion of unpaid bonuses accelerate to the current year’s salary cap. Should the Falcons designate Baker a post-May 12 release, the Falcons will save $4.5 million in cap space. After signing all of their rookies, the Falcons are set to be roughly $11 million under the 2015 salary cap.
Mincy was among over 20 prospects that the team brought in for its local pro day back in April. Mincy is expected to make the transition from collegiate cornerback to NFL free safety according to an ESPN report. Mincy was a three-year starter at Auburn, where he totaled 183 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, two interceptions and 26 passes defended in that span. His most productive year came as a junior, where he had a single interception but 14 pass breakups. Mincy measured in at 5’10” and 191 pounds at his pro day, where he ran a 4.55-second 40, lifted 17 bench reps, leapt 35.5 inches on the vertical jump and clocked a 7.00-second three-cone drill.
Mincy will compete for a reserve spot at free safety where there are still lingering questions about who will start. Charles Godfrey is the front-runner to land a position, but Mincy will likely join fellow undrafted free agent Terell Floyd and second-year Ricardo Allen as cornerbacks that will try and make the transition to free safety in order to compete for a spot behind Godfrey.