Atlanta Falcons Minicamp, built by The Home Depot, came to a close on Thursday after three days of workouts in the Georgia heat. Fans came to Flowery Branch for one more look at the team.
Every year, several Falcons who weren't expected to stand out have unexpectedly strong summers. Paul Worrilow did just that in 2013 and quickly won a starting job; Bernard Reedy, a nimble wide receiver, dazzled fans last August by catching a bunch of highlight reel touchdowns — several of which came during Friday Night Lights. Here are five players who could surprise at the 2015 XFINITY® Training Camp.
Atlanta's seventh round pick, defensive back Akeem King is a raw prospect with a relatively high ceiling. Much like Jalen Collins, King, listed at 6-foot-3, has the kind of length Dan Quinn likes in the secondary. He's mighty fast, too, as evident by his 4.39 40-yard dash. Only three DBs posted better times at the Combine. With experience at corner and safety, King has a versatile skill set and the willingness to line up wherever the coaches want him.
Now in his second stint with the Falcons, tight end Mickey Shuler is in position to earn substantial playing time in 2015. The 28-year-old has a few key facts in his favor. Atlanta doesn't have a clear-cut starter at TE, for one. Tony Moeaki and Jacob Tamme are favorites to start, and they've looked solid thus far, but nothing is set in stone. Secondly, the Falcons' new offense should heavily emphasize the TE position, meaning a lot of two- and possibly three-tight end sets will be applied. Such formations — likely used during short-yardage scenarios — would allow a stout blocker like Shuler to regularly see the field.
The Falcons signed Collin Mooney, 29, after the Houston native finished his second campaign in Tennessee. An Army veteran, he'll battle Patrick DiMarco for the fullback job; at present, it's hard to decipher who — if anyone — has an edge. It's not dificult to see Mooney, who has an exceptional work ethic, exciting Quinn with his tenacious style of play.
An undrafted free agent signing, Joey Mbu could earn a roster spot — or at least a job on the practice squad — with a productive camp. The rookie defensive tackle had a successful career at University of Houston, where he earned All-American Athletic Conference honors as a senior by finishing with 32 tackles (4.5 for loss) and 2.5 sacks. He was projected by some to go as high as the fourth round and had the longest arms (35 inches) of any defensive tackle at February's Combine.
Signed in May, cornerback Jonathon Mincy, a Decatur native, made his presence felt at Day 2 of June minicamp by swatting down a trio of passes at the nickelback position. He also held his own in coverage against Atlanta's talented wide receiver corps: On at least three occasions, Mincy ended up on an island against Julio Jones and didn't let his star counterpart get the best of him. The 5-foot-10 rookie thrived at Auburn and made the second coaches all-SEC team in 2014.