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Falcons Add Undrafted Free Agents

May 11th, 2014 Comments off

The Atlanta Falcons are expected to officially announce which 2014 NFL Draft prospects they signed to undrafted free-agent contracts on Monday, but some of that information has already been reported by various sources.

Late Saturday evening when the team was busy drafting linebackers Yawin Smallwood and Tyler Starr in the seventh round, they were also busily working the phone lines to try and get several players signed to contracts that will also compete for roster spots this summer.

While the official tally is not known, it’s expected that the team will announce that 19 undrafted free agents have signed with the team on Monday. The team’s roster currently stands at 62 players, plus with nine draft picks, the team has 19 slots available for the 90-man roster limit.

Scouring the internet, I’ve found 26 players that have reportedly inked deals with the Falcons, meaning that several of those players did not receive contracts, but rather were invited to try out for the team at a mini-camp later this month. Which players are tryouts versus actual signings won’t be determined until the team makes the official announcement tomorrow.

Here are the 26 players I found, and the sources for each. I’ve also linked to their college bios:

QB Jeff Mathews, Cornell (Source)
College bio
NFL.com draft profile

QB Danny O’Brien, Wisconsin (Source)
College bio Read more…

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Falcons Finish With Yawin Smallwood and Tyler Starr in Seventh Round of 2014 NFL Draft

May 10th, 2014 Comments off
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Yawin Smallwood

The Atlanta Falcons finished off their 2014 NFL Draft class by selecting a pair of linebackers in Connecticut’s Yawin Smallwood and South Dakota Tyler Starr at the tail-end of the seventh round. Both were compensatory picks, as Smallwood was taken with the 253rd overall selection and Starr went two picks later, the penultimate selection in the entire draft.

Smallwood declared as a junior this past year after spending three years as a starting middle linebacker at UConn. He was highly productive leading the team in tackles all three years, combining for 332 career tackles. He also added 27 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks. Smallwood added a pair of interceptions, 13 pass breakups, five forced fumbles and two touchdown returns (one interception and one fumble).

At the Combine, Smallwood measured in at 6’2″ and 246 pounds with a 36.5-inch vertical jump and lifting 225 pounds 18 times on the bench press. He was clocked at 5.01 seconds in the 40-yard dash, but strained his hamstring during the run. He was unable to run at his pro day in March because of the injury.

Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Starr

Starr was a three-year starter at South Dakota and finishied his career as the school’s all-time in sacks (27) and forced fumbles (13). As a redshirt freshman, he sat out the season due to academics before earning the starting defensive end spot as a sophomore. That season, he had a career-high 14 sacks, 19 tackles for loss and seven forced fumbles. He was a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award given the best defensive player in the FCS the following year and placed ninth in voting this past season with 71 tackles, 15 tackles for loss and 9 sacks. For his career, Starr had 41 tackles for loss, one interception, seven pass breakups, and one blocked kick.

At the Combine, Starr led linebackers with a 6.64-second three-cone time, while posting a 4.95-second 40-yard dash, 24 bench reps, and 32-inch vertical jump. Starr measured in at 6’4″ and 250 pounds.

Smallwood is more of a thumper in the middle than Falcons fifth-round pick Marquis Spruill and will add depth behind Paul Worrilow and Akeem Dent at middle linebacker. Starr adds more depth at outside linebacker and will likely compete as a reserve at strong-side linebacker behind Kroy Biermann and Joplo Bartu.

Categories: Draft Central, News Tags: , ,

Falcons Trade Up For Marquis Spruill in Fifth Round of 2014 NFL Draft

May 10th, 2014 Comments off
Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Marquis Spruill

The Atlanta Falcons selected Syracuse linebacker Marquis Spruill in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, trading up from their sixth-round spot with the Minnesota Vikings. The Falcons gave up their sixth-round (182nd overall) and seventh-round picks (220th overall) to the Vikings for their fifth-round (168th overall) to select Spruill.

Spruill is the lone pick selected thus far by the Falcons in 2014 that was not invited to the Scouting Combine in February. Spruill is noted for his athleticism, earning nomination as a potential “freak” by CBS Sports’ Bruce Feldman last May. At his pro day, Spruill measured in at 6’1″ 231 pounds, clocking a 4.53-second 40-yard dash with 21 bench reps of 225 pounds, 34.5-inch vertical jump and 7.33-second three-cone drill.

As a senior captain, Spruill earned honorable mention All-ACC honors with career-highs of 66 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. Spruill played both inside and outside linebacker at Syracuse, but played predominantly in the middle as a four-year starter with 49 career starts. He finished his career second on the school’s all-time list with 41 tackles for loss, while also adding 12.5 career sacks and four pass breakups.

Spruill will likely play inside and outside for the Falcons as a reserve behind Sean Weatherspoon at weak-side linebacker.

Categories: Draft Central, News Tags: ,

Falcons Select Ricardo Allen in Fifth Round of 2014 NFL Draft

May 10th, 2014 Comments off
Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

Ricardo Allen

The Atlanta Falcons selected Purdue cornerback Ricardo Allen with their lone fifth-round pick, the 147th overall selection in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Allen adds some depth at cornerback and has a chance to compete for the nickel role as a rookie, after serving as a starter and slot corner as a senior captain. He had a career-high six interceptions this past year, starting a total of 12 games. Allen finished his career as a four-year starter with 48 starts in 50 career appearances. He finished his career with 250 tackles, 14.5 for loss, three sacks, 13 interceptions, 15 pass breakups, two forced fumbles and 4 touchdowns on interception returns. He also blocked a field goal as a sophomore.

At the Combine, Allen measured 5’9″ and 187 pounds. He clocked a 4.61-second 40-yard dash and jumped 35.5 inches in the vertical. He was able to improve upon both marks at Purdue’s pro day, where he ran a 4.51-second 40 and leapt 37 inches in the vertical. He also clocked a 6.9-second three-cone drill.

Allen worked out for the Falcons in March.

Categories: Draft Central, News Tags: ,

Falcons Take Devonta Freeman and Prince Shembo in Fourth Round of 2014 NFL Draft

May 10th, 2014 Comments off
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Devonta Freeman

The Atlanta Falcons used a pair of fourth-round picks on Florida State running back Devonta Freeman and Notre Dame outside linebacker Prince Shembo. Freeman was selected with the third pick in the round, the 103rd overall, while Shembo was selected 36 slots later for 139th overall with teh team’s first of three compensatory picks. It was reported back in April that both Freeman and Shembo were on the Falcons’ radar.

Freeman was the starting tailback for the National Championship-winning Seminoles this past year, leading the team with 1,016 yards on 173 carries (5.9 avg) with 14 touchdowns. He also caught 22 passes for 278 yards and a touchdown. Freeman led the Seminoles in rushing all three years he was with the team, but split carries his first two years. He did manage to start nine games over that span, and combined for 1,239 yards on 231 yards (5.4 avg) and 16 touchdowns. He also caught 25 passes for 197 yards.

Freeman measured 5’8″ and 205 pounds at the Scouting Combine in February, and clocked a 4.58-second 40-yard dash and jumped 31.5 inches in the vertical. He also had a 7.11-second three-cone time. Freeman was able to add 14 bench reps of 225 pounds at his pro day.

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Prince Shembo

Shembo was a three-year starter playing both defensive end and outside linebacker in Notre Dame’s 3-4 defense. In his junior season, he posted career-highs with 51 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, and 7.5 sacks. As a senior, he had 48 tackles, 5.5 for loss and 5.5 sacks.

At the Combine, Shembo measured 6’1″ 253 pounds and ran a 4.71-second 40-yard dash. He also had 26 bench reps with a 38.5-inch vertical, which ranked tied for fourth-best among linebackers at the event.

Shembo also admitted during the Combine that he was the unknown Notre Dame player that was involved in sexual assault allegations by a Saint Mary’s College student in 2010. The accusing student in question would later commit suicide. However charges were never brought against Shembo by university officials, and Shembo claims his innocence.

Categories: Draft Central, News Tags: , ,

Atlanta Falcons 2014 Rookie Scouting Report: Jake Matthews

May 10th, 2014 Comments off
Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Matthews

Here’s my breakdown of the Atlanta Falcons top 2014 NFL Draft selection, offensive tackle Jake Matthews.

BIO

Height: 6’5″
Weight: 308
College: Texas A&M
40 Time: 5.07 seconds (Combine)
Bench Press: 24 reps (Combine)

Matthews hails from a football-rich family with practically every male member having NFL experience for three generations. Grandfather Clay Matthews Sr. played defensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers (1950-55). His father, Bruce, played offensive line for Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans from 1983-2001 and was inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2007. His uncle, Clay Matthews Jr., played linebacker for Cleveland Browns (1978-93) and Falcons (1994-96). Brother, Kevin played center for Titans from 2010-13. Cousin, Clay III, plays linebacker with Green Bay Packers since 2009. Cousin, Casey, plays linebacker for Philadelphia Eagles since 2011. Has a younger brother, Mike, that is currently at Texas A&M.

Matthews is a three-year starter that spent the beginning of his career playing right tackle before moving to left tackle as a senior. He started the final seven games of his true freshman year at right tackle, playing opposite 2013 first-round pick Luke Joeckel. Started every game as a sophomore and junior at right tackle (26 total). Moved to left side upon Joeckel’s departure in 2013, and started 13 games there. He earned All-SEC honors as a junior and senior, and was an honorable mention candidate for All-Big 12 as a sophomore. He was a finalist for the Outland Trophy as a senior, and won the Bobby Bowden Award that same year. That award honors players for their high performance on the field, in the classroom and community.

Full name is Jacob Matthews, and was born on February 11, 1992. He attended Elkins High in Missouri City, Texas.

2013 GAMES WATCHED

Date
Opponent
2nd Lev
Pull
Cut
Screen
Key Blk
Miss Blk
Sack
Hit
Press
Pen
Pen Type
Sep-14Alabama2/31/12/20/0100120N/A
Sep-28at Arkansas5/90/01/10/0210011holding
Oct-12at Ole Miss1/10/01/10/0310021holding
Nov-23at LSU1/20/00/00/0000021ill. block
Nov-30at Missouri5/100/03/30/1010051holding
2nd Lev (second level), Pull (pulling), Cut (cut blocking) and Screen indicate how often he was able to hit his blocking assignments in those situations.

 

SKILLS
The grading system is based on a 10-point scale: 1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite.

Strength (6.0) - Shows decent strength but certainly has the potential to get much stronger. Measuring in at 308 pounds at the Combine, that’s about seven pounds lighter than the NFL average. Could potentially add another 10-15 pounds to his frame easily, particularly to improve his upper body strength. Rarely dominates opposing players with his strength alone. He lifted 225 pounds 24 times at the Combine, which is adequate for a tackle of his caliber.
Read more…

Falcons Take Dez Southward in Third Round of 2014 NFL Draft

May 9th, 2014 Comments off
Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

Dezmen Southward

The Atlanta Falcons selected Wisconsin safety Dezmen Southward in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft, taking him with the 68th overall selection.

Southward joins second-round pick Ra’Shede Hageman as a fellow Senior Bowl participant targeted by the team, suiting up for the North squad under the Falcons’ guidance during the all-star week in January. Southward is a two-year starter at Wisconsin, playing both free safety and strong safety. During his time at the Senior Bowl, he also got work at cornerback.

Southward measured in at 6′ and 211 pounds at the Scouting Combine in February. He did not participate in any drills to injury issues, but did have an outstanding pro day in early March, where he was clocked as fast as 4.31 seconds in the 40-yard dash and had a 40-inch vertical jump. He also posted a 6.50-second three-cone drill and leapt 10 feet, 4 inches on his broad jump during his pro day workout.

Southward started the final 28 games over his career and was an honorable mention All-Big Ten candidate over his final two seasons at Wisconsin. During that time, he combined for 109 tackles, 11.5 for loss, two interceptions and 10 pass breakups.

Southward’s stepfather, Eli Rasheed, is currently the defensive line coach at Toledo University. Southward did not play football until his senior year of high school, previously playing basketball and running track. He worked on the track and field team briefly during 2013 while at Wisconsin, filling in as an injury replacement on their 4×100 meter relay team.

Categories: Draft Central, News Tags: ,

Falcons Select Ra’Shede Hageman In Second Round of 2014 NFL Draft

May 9th, 2014 Comments off
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Ra’Shede Hageman

The Atlanta Falcons selected Minnesota defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman with their second-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the 37th overall selection.

Hageman helps beef up the Falcons defensive line, a noted goal of the team this offseason. At 6’6″ 310 pounds, Hageman is a massive upgrade to potentially play inside and outside in the Falcons hybrid defensive scheme. Hageman played under the Falcons coaching staff for the North squad during the Senior Bowl all-star game in January. At February’s Scouting Combine, he ran a 5.02-second 40-yard dash and did an impressive 32 bench reps of 225 pounds. He also had a 35.5-inch vertical jump.

Hageman had a couple of issues during his career at Minnesota, being suspended four games at the end of his sophomore season for academic reasons. He was also arrested during the course of breaking up a bar fight the following year, but the charges were dropped. He would assume a starting job that season and record 35 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and six sacks. As a senior, he had 38 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and two sacks as he earned captain honors. He also had an interception and a pair of blocked kicks.

Categories: Draft Central, News Tags: ,

Who Will Falcons Target on Second Day of 2014 NFL Draft?

May 9th, 2014 Comments off
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons’ interest in Auburn pass-rusher Dee Ford signals their goals on Day 2

The second day of the 2014 NFL Draft is upon us where teams will be selecting their second and third-round picks. After the Atlanta Falcons used their top pick on Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews, it now begs the question of what is next?

The Falcons top need is at pass-rusher where the team was at or near the bottom of the league in both sacks and third-down defense in 2013. The team has been at the bottom of the league in both those categories for several years, so frankly, their need at pass-rusher has been many years in the making.

The first-round of the draft saw a couple of edge-rushers go late with Auburn’s Dee Ford being selected by the Kansas City Chiefs at 23rd overall and the Philadelphia Eagles selecting Louisville’s Marcus Smith with the 26th overall pick. According to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, the Falcons attempted to move back into the first round in order to select Ford, presumably trying to swap picks with the Philadelphia Eagles, who originally held the 22nd overall selection. They traded that pick to the Cleveland Browns, who selected quarterback Johnny Manziel, Matthews former teammate at Texas A&M.

In terms of compensation, the Eagles were able to move down four spots and also picked up a third-round pick (83rd overall) in return. There were also reports that the Minnesota Vikings were looking to move into that spot, meaning that the Falcons needed to blow away the Eagles with an offer to get Ford. While the Falcons could have given the Eagles a higher third-round pick (68th overall), their second-round selection (37th overall) pales in comparison to the 26th pick that the Browns offered.

The Falcons interest in Ford coupled with their need at the position strongly suggests that their priority with the 37th overall pick to come later this evening, the team will target an edge-rusher.

There should be plenty to choose from. Jeremiah Attaochu (Georgia Tech), Scott Crichton (Oregon State), Kony Ealy (Missouri), Demarcus Lawrence (Boise State) and Kyle Van Noy (Brigham Young) were all potential second-round targets that worked out for the team this offseason. In fact, I discussed those exact players along with Ford in April as potential second-round targets. At the time, it was concluded that Ford and Attaochu would likely top the team’s list of potential candidates.

There are possibilities that the Falcons could pass on an edge-rusher, particularly if Ford was the sole apple of their eye. Perhaps they deem the rest to be better value in the third round. It’s unlikely, but certainly a possibility.

If that is the case, then what other potential positions could the team opt to address in the second round? Safety and tight end are two potential needs that stand out.

Read more…

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Falcons Select Jake Matthews at Top of 2014 NFL Draft

May 8th, 2014 Comments off
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Matthews stands with Commissioner Roger Goodell at the 2014 NFL Draft

The Atlanta Falcons selected Texas A&M offensive tackle Jake Matthews with their first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He was selected with the sixth overall pick and will be an immediate upgrade to the team’s offensive line and pass protection.

Matthews has strong NFL bloodlines, as his father Bruce is a Hall of Famer tackle that played 19 years with the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans. His cousins, Clay III and Casey currently play linebacker for the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles, respectively. His older brother Kevin is currently a free agent center and played for the Titans from 2010-12. His uncle, Clay Matthews Jr., played linebacker for three years with the Falcons from 1994-96 after a long career with the Cleveland Browns.

Matthews was a four-year starter at A&M, playing right tackle before kicking over to the left side as a senior to replace Luke Joeckel, who was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the second overall pick last season. Matthews started his last 46 games at A&M, 13 at left tackle and 33 at right tackle. He earned All-SEC honors both as a senior and junior and All-American honors as a senior. He was also named a team captain his final year in College Station.

At the Combine, Matthews measured 6’5″ 308 pounds with a 5.07-second 40-yard dash, 24 bench reps of 225 pounds, 30.5-inch vertical jump, and a 7.34-second three-cone drill.

Matthews was one of several prospects that visited the Falcons during a busy week in April.

 

Categories: Draft Central, News Tags: ,