FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today's Early Bird Report includes Ed Oliver's mind-blowing pro day as well as where Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley rank among the NFL's top receiver duos.
The Falcons are in the market for a defensive tackle, and there seems to be a decent chance that they could target the position with their first-round draft pick. Houston's Ed Oliver is a player who has been linked to the Falcons very frequently in mock drafts, and he put together an eye-popping pro day on Thursday.
According to NFL.com's Adam Maya, Oliver ran the 40-yard dash in 4.73 seconds, which is just one one-hundredth of a second slower than receiver Anquan Boldin's 4.72-second 40-yard dash. He also ran the short shuttle drill in 4.22 seconds – faster than Saquon Barkley's time of 4.24 seconds last year – and had a 36-inch vertical jump – just one inch shy of Von Miller's vertical.
Oliver's athleticism has always been apparent, but what he did Thursday was truly impressive.
Here are some other articles for Falcons fans to check out today:
NFL.com: Top 11 WR duos in 2019
Julio Jones is arguably the most talented wide receiver in the NFL. But the Falcons have also brought in plenty of talented players to fill out their receiving corps, including Mohamed Sanu and Calvin Ridley. In a recent ranking of the 11 best wide receiver duos for 2019, NFL.com's Gil Brandt pegged Jones and Ridley as the sixth-best in the league.
"I'm not forgetting veteran receiver Mohamed Sanu, who finished with slightly more receiving yards (838) than Ridley (821)," Brandt writes. "But Ridley is likely to have a stronger role in the passing game in 2019, coming off a rookie season in which he scored 10 times. Jones, of course, is one of the best in the game, having collected 10,731 career receiving yards, more than anyone but Antonio Brown (11,040) in the eight-season span since he entered the NFL. After negotiating a revised contract last offseason, Jones put himself in line for a pay raise with a league-high 1,677 yards in 2018. He also reached the Pro Bowl for the sixth time in his career."
If that seems a little low for Jones and Ridley, you're not alone. To see who Brandt has in front of them, click here.
AJC: Jarrett donates $50,000 to two local charities
Grady Jarrett was named the Falcons' Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee in 2018, for which he received an additional $50,000. According to D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jarrett donated those funds to two charities. Jarrett donated $25,000 of that money to Ysportz, which organizes celebrity sports camps, and another $25,000 to Atlanta D.J. Greg Street and his "We Need 2 Read" program.
To read the rest of Ledbetter's report on Jarrett's donation, click here.
ESPN: The most impactful free agent signings for NFL teams
The Falcons have signed six free agents this offseason, but which has been the most crucial move for the team? ESPN went through the entire list of free agent signings for each team this offseason and singled out the most impactful moves.
Falcons beat writer Vaughn McClure pegged left guard James Carpenter as the team's most impactful move in free agency.
"James Carpenter, the 6-foot-5, 321-pound veteran offensive guard who is coming off of shoulder surgery, is known to be 'tough as nails' and brings 97 games of starting experience to the Falcons' offensive line," McClure writes. "Carpenter said in the past he prefers a gap scheme over a zone scheme, and the Falcons could mix it up under first-year offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and run more power with Carpenter and fellow newcomer Jamon Brown. Carpenter will be an instant upgrade at left guard over last year's starter, Wes Schweitzer. The Falcons needed to upgrade the line to better protect quarterback Matt Ryan and fare better in short-yardage situations."
To see the rest of the impactful free agency moves, click here.
AJC: Blank 'concerned' about no-shows at Falcons games
The average number of tickets distributed for Falcons home games last season was 72,898, but in a recent story from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter he notes that the actual number of fans who showed up was a good deal fewer. Ledbetter spoke with Falcons owner Arthur Blank, who explained that it's an issue league-wide.
"We are always concerned about that, and that's a factor across the league," Blank told Ledbetter. "… So, we have to make sure that we are doing everything that we can do, and that means making sure that our team is as competitive as it possibly can be. Make sure it has the leadership to generate the kind of results that are important to all of us."
To read the rest of Ledbetter's piece, click here.
AJC: Falcons finalizing draft approach
The 2019 NFL Draft is only a month away and rapidly approaching. After more than a year of scouting these prospects the Falcons are putting the finishing touches on their draft plan.
Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff was among the team's many scouts and coaches at The University of Georgia's pro day and told reporters that some NFL teams are jealous of the football talent located near the city of Atlanta.
"We are fortunate again to have such an unbelievable hotbed of talent, just natural pure talent from the state," Dimitroff said. "… That's why some of the guys complain to the league office about how unfair it is that we have our (local) day, and they are somewhere else. They complain about it all the time."
D. Orlando Ledbetter wrote about the Falcons' final preparations for the draft for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which you can read here.
AJC: Arthur Blank sells limited share of Falcons
A team spokesman confirmed to Ledbetter Monday that Falcons owner Arthur Blank sold a 10 percent share of the team two three limited partners, one of which is a new limited partner. The three limited partners, Doug Hertz, Ron Canakaris and Alan Kestenbaum, who joins the Falcons for the first time, received the shares in a deal that is estimated to be worth $300 million.
Per Ledbetter, the team spokesman referred to the deal as "a relatively minor transaction."
To read the rest of Ledbetter's report, click here.
AJC: Dimitroff's draft-day trading record
They don't call him "Trader Tom" for nothing, folks. Dimitroff has earned that nickname for his reputation to make a draft-day trade in order to get his guy, most famously in 2011 when the Falcons moved up 21 spots to draft Julio Jones.
In a piece for the AJC, Ledbetter combed through each of Dimitroff's 11 drafts as the Falcons' general manager and noted each trade he's made. Notably, Dimitroff has made a trade in ever single draft during his time with the Falcons.
To see each of those trades, click here.