Vic Beasley Jr. stepped on the field with an Atlanta Falcons jersey on for the first time Friday afternoon at rookie minicamp. The eighth pick in the 2015 draft headlined a slew of young players ready to make a name for themselves at the next level. Beasley donned No. 44 and said the reason for the number was his position in the draft going No. 8 overall, with four plus four equaling eight.
After the emotional months leading up to the draft and the excitement following the draft, Beasley finally got back to the gridiron after for the first time since leaving Clemson with a record-setting 33 sacks.
"It felt good, I'm just glad to be out here and get accustomed to my teammates," said Beasley after his first taste of the NFL offseason.
One teammate that Beasley needs no time getting familiar with is former Clemson teammate Grady Jarrett. The fifth-round pick and son of former Falcons great Jessie Tuggle, teamed up with Beasley in the trenches and helped the Tigers allow an ACC-best 16.7 points per game in their senior season. Beasley expressed his excitement about being able to continue playing with Jarrett in the NFL.
"It's real fun. A former teammate of mine, I'm just ready to get started with him and look forward to having another great year with him and years to come," Beasley said.
The two teammates' level of familiarity is a huge advantage moving forward with each player knowing how the other likes to work while on the line.
Although Beasley will have Jarrett by his side, he understands that playing in college and playing the pros are two different animals.
"I think it's a big difference," explained the rookie. "The speed of the game is very different and just adapting to the game will be a big challenge for me. Out here getting started, I think I'm getting a head start on it."
The heralded pass rusher is expected to bring a pass rushing tenacity, but playing for head coach Dan Quinn, who has been able to be successful in both stopping the pass and stuffing the run, Beasley knows he will not be just a one trick pony.
"I think it will be good for me playing underneath coach Quinn since he's a defensive minded coach," Beasley told the media. "I'm ready to get started and looking forward to this year."
Coach Quinn said after the first practice that he was looking for guys who had the grit, the toughness and the fitness; and Beasley did not disappoint.
"I thought Vic did a good job. You could certainly see that first step quickness," Quinn said. "Everybody's in a new system so there's lots to learn but I thought he did a really good job of picking it up."
There has been an emphasis of building versatility among the defensive unit and with Beasley's ability to both standup and put his hand in the ground, coach Quinn has plenty of options. Quinn talked about the importance of having players able to play multiple positions when injuries occur and to have substantial experience at the position when called upon.
"When you build that versatility, not only are you adding value to the player, but you are adding depth to the team".
Beasley's athletic ability and ball skills makes for a special new toy that Quinn can move around his defense. Whether it be on the line or at linebacker, Beasley is ready to help the team out anyway he can.