Skip to main content

Falcons Get Five Rookies Under Contract

The Atlanta Falcons today announced that they have signed cornerback Jalen Collins, wide receiver Justin Hardy, defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, tackle Jake Rodgers, and cornerback Akeem King.

Collins, 6-2, 204 pounds, played in 39 games with 10 starts during his three years at LSU. He finished his career with the Tigers with 90 total tackles (58 solo), 25 passes defensed, and three interceptions. Last season, Collins played in all 13 games, starting seven of those contests and recorded a career best 38 total tackles (28 solo). Collins also recorded three tackles for loss, one interception, and a team-leading nine passes defensed.

In 2013, he saw action in all 13 games, making two starts. Collins tallied 22 tackles (15 solo) and had two passes defensed. As a redshirt freshman in 2012, he played in all 13 games with one start, which came in a road win over Texas A&M.

Collins was a blue chip defensive back coming out of Olive Branch High School in Mississippi. He was rated a four star prospect by and a three star by He was named to the Mississippi 6A first team All-State squad, and was selected to play in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Classic.

Collins was born in Kansas City, Missouri and has three siblings Maurice, Brandon and Jamil. His parents are Valencia Collins and Jon Wallace. Collins majored in sports administration.

Hardy, 6-0, 188 pounds, played in 63 games for the Pirates and set school records with 387 receptions, 4,541 yards, and 35 touchdowns during his career. He caught more passes than any player in Football Bowl Subdivision history, passing former Oklahoma WR Ryan Broyles record of 349. Hardy is the only player in school history to post three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons and 16th player in FBS history to tally 4,000-plus career receiving yards.

The Vanceboro, North Carolina, native capped his career by winning the Burlsworth Trophy, which is given to the nation's most outstanding player who began his career as a walk on. Hardy set single-season school records, ranking second in the nation in receptions (121) and fourth in receiving yards (1,494) last season. He became the 11th player in ECU annals to earn Associated Press All-America honors (third team) and was a three time all-conference selection. He also served as a team captain during his senior season.

In 2013, Hardy started all 13 games and set single-season school records for receptions (114) and receiving yards (1,284), which he would later break, while also pulling down eight touchdowns. He was a first-team All-Conference USA selection and a semifinalist for the Burlsworth Trophy. Hardy ranked fourth nationally in receptions per game (8.8), 15th in receiving yards, 17th in receiving yards per game (98.8), and 23rd in punt return average (11.2).

Hardy was a first-team All-Conference USA selection as a receiver and second-team choice as punt returner during his sophomore season in 2012. He became the fourth receiver in school history to reach 1,000 receiving yards (1,105) in a single-season while also recording 88 catches and 11 touchdowns. A freshman all-conference choice and ECU's offensive MVP in 2011, Hardy saw action in 10 games including eight starts in his first year on campus. He set East Carolina freshman records with 64 receptions and 658 yards and Larry Shannon's (1994) Pirates' freshman record with six touchdowns.

Hardy attended West Craven High School where he earned all-area, all-conference and offensive player of the year honors after compiling 2,500 passing yards and 35 touchdowns as well as 1,500 rushing yards and 10 scores. He earned a bachelor's degree in sport studies in May, 2014 and is pursuing a second undergraduate degree in industrial technology.

Jarrett, 6-0, 305 pounds, was heralded as one of the Tigers' best leaders and named a permanent co-captain in 2014. He finished his career starting 37 of 48 games with 207 tackles, 29.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, 37 quarterback pressures, one pass defense, two forced fumbles, and four fumble recoveries. Jarrett was named a third team All-American by Athlon and a first team All-ACC selection by the conference's media and coaches as well as Athlon, College Sports Madness, ESPN, and Phil Steele.

The Conyers, Georgia native started all 13 games as a senior in 2014, tallying 73 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 12 quarterback pressures, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. He earned honorable mention All-ACC honors from the media and coaches as a junior in 2013 after posting 83 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, two sacks, 14 quarterback pressures, and two fumbles recoveries. Jarret was selected as an honorable mention sophomore All-American by, an honorable mention All-ACC pick, and the co-defensive player of the year by the Tigers coaching staff in 2012. He totaled 49 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, 10 quarterback pressures, one pass defensed, and one fumble recovery.

Jarrett attended Rockdale County High School where he was a two-time all-state selection and the school's athlete of the year as a senior. He had 101 tackles, 31.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks as a senior. Jarrett graduated from Clemson with a degree in Management in December of 2014.

Rodgers, 6-6, 320 pounds, started 14 games at right tackle for Eastern Washington in 2014, earning Football Championship Subdivision first team All-America honors for his performance. He played in 10 games in his first season at EWU in 2013 after transferring in from Washington State. Rodgers earned a varsity letter after starting all 12 games on the offensive line for the Cougars in 2012. He saw action at both guard and tackle during his time at Washington State. Rodgers played tight end, defensive line, and served as the placekicker at Shadle Park High School where he also played basketball and baseball.

King, 6-1, 212 pounds, played in 33 games, including 12 career starts as a senior. He was named to the 2013 Academic All-Mountain and 2012 Academic All-WAC teams as well as being a three-time San José State University Scholar-Athlete. In 2014, King was one of three Spartan defensive players to start in every game. He enjoyed his most productive season with 71 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, and two passes defensed. King saw action in 11 games as a defensive back and on special teams in 2013.

He saw action in eight games as a sophomore in 2012 and two games as a redshirt freshman in 2011. As a senior at Nipomo High School, he averaged 29 yards per catch and scored four times, while being credited with 30 tackles, and two interceptions. King also was a sprinter and jumper for the track and field team and set a school record clocking a 10.74 in the 100-meter dash. He graduated from San Jose State with a degree in business marketing in May of 2014 and is pursuing his MBA.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content