The Falcons made seven selections during the 2015 NFL Draft. Here is a look back at the college careers of the Falcons 2015 Rookie Club.
It's always important to focus on rookies during XFINITY® Training Camp, and this year's group — widely considered one of the league's best — should provide fans with a lot to watch. Here are a handful of first-years to monitor when the Falcons reconvene at Flowery Branch.
Vic Beasley, Jr.
All eyes will be on Vic Beasley, Jr., Atlanta's first round pick and one of the best defensive linemen of his class. He impressed coaches during the latest minicamp by flashing his high motor, and if he can do the same in August, it'll go a long way towards solidifying a starting job.
Expected to line up at the LEO position — more or less a designated pass-rusher — the former Clemson star will have many chances to disrupt Atlanta's quarterbacks. He won't be dragging any to the dirt, of course, but it'll be interesting to see what he can accomplish during his first true reps against the Falcons' offensive linemen.
As noted on Monday, the competition at running back is expected to be intense. Third-rounder Tevin Coleman only made this storyline more interesting by announcing he'd be the starter on draft day. Naturally, Devonta Freeman, who grew considerably in 2014, doesn't plan on handing the job to Coleman on a silver platter.
For Coleman to solidify his spot at the top of the depth chart, he'll need to make a strong impression at camp. That means exhibiting a strong understanding of the playbook. While Kyle Shanahan's system is new to the 6-foot-1 RB, he played a similar offense at Indiana University. Look for Coleman to exhibit the vision, footwork and breakaway speed he displayed below.
Here's Tevin Coleman using his vision to break free w/ zone blocking. Expect a lot more of this. pic.twitter.com/eCRNuMoDfl — Andrew Hirsh (@andrewhirsh) May 7, 2015
With Harry Douglas in Tennessee and Roddy White getting up there in age, the Falcons believed it was important to add a young wide receiver during this year's draft. Justin Hardy, a talented pass-catcher with big hands, good route-running skills and an aggressive mindset, fits the bill.
Hardy will get looks at Douglas' old position in the slot, and he may well start there from the get-go. That'll depend on a number of factors — some in his control, some not — but regardless, he figures to be an important asset in Atlanta long-term. One-on-ones are among the most entertaining parts of camp, and if the East Carolina alum can impress during those drills, he'll quickly endear himself to fans.
If Dan Quinn were to describe his ideal cornerback, that hypothetical player would look a lot like Jalen Collins. Tall, tenacious and confident in man coverage, the LSU product is similar to the CBs Quinn effectively deployed in Seattle.
While Collins should be a crucial asset for years to come, there are questions about what he can accomplish in 2015. He only started 10 games in college and enters the NFL as a raw prospect. He will vie for a spot alongside Desmond Trufant, and how he performs at camp — as well as preseason — will go a long way towards deciding his immediate role on the Falcons.
One of Beasley's teammates at Clemson, Grady Jarrett enters the pros with an extremely high ceiling. Although he fell to the fifth round (137th overall), many draft pundits, including those from ESPN, CBS and Sports Illustrated, believe he deserved to go earlier. Pro Football Focus went so far as to say he has first round talent.
According to Cox, Jarrett may require some time before he can make a big impact; however, he has the tools needed to be a force as early as this season. Jarrett is quick for a defensive tackle and, at college, was impressive during virtually all defensive situations. Fans watching him at camp should pay attention to the way he leverages his body to reach the point of attack.
Been watching some Grady Jarrett tape. He's, uh, pretty good against the run. pic.twitter.com/CEgoHZEozf — Andrew Hirsh (@andrewhirsh) May 7, 2015