FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Every rookie seems to have that one moment early on when it hits them that they're actually playing for an NFL team.
For fourth-round pick Kendall Sheffield, that need-to-pinch-myself realization came Friday afternoon not long after stepping out onto the field before his first-ever practice with the Atlanta Falcons.
"It was, 'I'm finally here and I get to live out my dream,'" Sheffield said. "When we were warming up and stretching, I just looked around and realized that I'm an Atlanta Falcon.
"I get to do what I've wanted to do since I was a little kid – and that's play in the NFL," Sheffield added.
The Falcons helped make that dream come true when they traded up to the 111th pick in the fourth round to take the former Ohio State cornerback. The 6-foot, 193-pound Sheffield is not only expected to add immediate depth to the secondary, but he could make an impact on special teams because of his elite speed and athleticism.
Sheffield, who broke an Ohio State track record with a 6.6-second 60-yard dash in 2018, said that while he felt "very confident and comfortable" during his first NFL practice, he acknowledged that he's going to make mistakes at times.
Sheffield made 58 tackles and two interceptions in two seasons at Ohio State – after playing at Blinn College and transferring from Alabama – and put some of his blazing speed on display during various drills at cornerback and as a returner.
"I have been returning kicks," Sheffield said. "That's something I want to do as well, even though it's been a while since I've done it."
As it stands now, Sheffield is joining a secondary that includes starting cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Isaiah Oliver, as well as Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Ryan Neal, Taveze Calhoun, Rashard Causey, Jayson Stanley and fellow draft pick Jordan Miller. Sean Freeman and Jalen Johnson are two corners trying out with the Falcons.
Sheffield said that all he's focused on right now is "contributing to the team in any way I can and doing whatever the coaches want" him to do. He added that he's anxious to compete "and show his talents."
And after waiting his whole life for this moment, who could blame him?