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Bair Mail: On Desmond Ridder, MyCole Pruitt, Feleipe Franks, OTA standouts and more

We also discuss Yannick Ngakoue as a free-agent option in this Friday mailbag

Editor's note: The statements and opinions regarding players and/or potential future players in the article below are those of the editorial staff and are not of the Atlanta Falcons' football personnel unless noted in a direct quote.

The offseason program is nearly complete. Only a mandatory minicamp stands between the Falcons and an extended dark period where most everyone at the Falcons training facility will find some mountains or a beach to disappear to. Yep, that includes me. Ha.

But we still have some business to attend to next week, and we'll enter minicamp armed with increased knowledge about this roster and how it's coming together. So let's talk about what I've seen and heard to this point.


It's important to note we only get access to select practices, so it's hard to say anything definitive without a full picture of how everyone has done every day.

But there's still plenty to discuss in this Friday mailbag, and we'll start off in a familiar place. Where, might you ask? Talking about the quarterback.


Bud Carlyn from Milton, Fla.

Did not hear Ridder's name mentioned to often during the OTA observations. Did he not do well?

Bair: Don't think of omission as a sign of trouble. Tori and I have been focused on new guys, new schemes and new roles for existing players during the three OTA practices available to the media over anything else, leading our notes and observations to focus on those areas of the roster as it's made up.

That doesn't mean Desmond Ridder isn't performing well. If that were the case, we'd say so. And, to answer Martin Smith's question about Ridder, I wouldn't focus too much on video highlights. We've seen a solid sample of Desmond's offseason work, and I think he has been efficient and relatively accurate with his throws while getting used to a whole new batch of receivers outside of Drake London.

Arthur Smith railed against trying to overanalyze 7-on-7 completion percentage and minor moments in the spring and I think he's right to do so. The Falcons are working on things. They're trying to find sync. They're not trying to operate as they would in the game. That's why you have to put everything in proper context.

From what I've seen, Ridder has great command of the huddle. He's vocal as heck when things go right and when they go wrong. He has done a good job finding receivers and threading needles and operating the offense well. Has he been perfect? No. No one has and no one should be as coaches work to pair their scheme to their current personnel.

I would say that Desmond Ridder has been good and will continue to improve as we get into camp and the preseason. He needs reps. He's getting them right now. And, ask any of his teammates how Ridder is doing and they rave. Not with coach speak but with passionate support. That's insightful in itself.

Phillip Treiber from Macon, Ga.

Why are we still carrying Franks(TE) on the roster. My Cole Pruitt is the better option. Pruitt can at least catch the football and had good chemistry with Ridder.

Bair: I don't think it's an either/or situation, Phillip. The Falcons have six tight ends on the roster right now. They could easily add a seventh to the 90-man roster if they want. They have chosen, however, to go with the group they have.

It is somewhat surprising that MyCole Pruitt remains a free agent at this stage, considering that he was productive last season. He signed in August last year, so maybe he's waiting for the right fit to emerge. That's just a guess, though. I don't claim to know his situation at this time. He is an intriguing player who could be a pickup later on if he remains available.

Regarding Feleipe Franks, don't forget that the Falcons prize versatility and options. Franks gives them that on special teams and at tight end, where his size, athleticism and throwing ability can be advantageous if properly harnessed and developed. Why not let that play out for another offseason, with a 90-man roster? There's no reason to give up on all that in the spring or summer.

Kerry Miller from Centerville, Ga.

Scott and team, Now that OTAs have wrapped up is there that undrafted/unheralded player that you see that has a real shot to make the 53 man roster or the practice squad with a chance to be active on some game days? Thanks for doing all you guys do to keep us in the loop for the Falcons.

Bair: Interesting question, Kerry. It's a tough one to answer at this stage, considering the linemen can't put pads on. It's hard to say how any of those guys are doing until the summer. I will bring up two interesting skill players who have stood out to this point.

Receiver Slade Bolden has flashed, especially during Wednesday's practice open to the media. I also think undrafted running back Carlos Washington has shown quickness and burst at this early stage as well. So much so that it has to be reined in during jog throughs.

Everything I just said comes with a giant caveat often preached by Arthur Smith. You can't make the team in the spring. These are teaching sessions carefully orchestrated to improve communication and chemistry. They are not tryouts. So flashing now doesn't mean much. Ask this question again in the summer and I'll have a much better answer for you than I do right now.

Bobby Johnson from Los Angeles, Calif.

Any chance we kick the tires on a productive but often moving Yannick Ngakoue? I see red flags anytime a player averages 9 + sacks, but still gets released or not offered a long term deal. Each time he goes to a new team, his contract gets lower and lower. Do you think he would be worth it if the price is right say 1 year 5-7 million contract?

Bair: Discussing hypothetical contract terms is always a tough one, Bobby, so I'll just deal with the player and the Falcons situation up front. They like the collection of talent as currently assembled, believing Lorezno Carter and Arnold Ebiketie can create havoc from their weakside end/Jack linebacker/whatever-you-want-to-call it edge rusher spot. Those guys are good run players as well.

We have seen Yannick Ngakoue thrive as a pass rusher, especially, but there's no indication that I've seen of how much money he wants. He's an interesting player and could be a good option in the sub packages, but I believe the Falcons are committed to the pass rushers they have. They have invested higher picks in that area and are working to develop them. Ryan Nielsen is excellent at doing just that. Let's see what he can do with the guys already on the roster.

Call for questions

We'll have more mailbags before and after minicamp next week, so submit your questions right here for inclusion in one of those Bair Mail editions.

Take a look at the 2023 Atlanta Falcons in action during offseason practice, presented by MegaFit Meals.

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