More than 250 players will be drafted into the NFL in the last three days of April, but in the year leading up to the big event in Chicago, each team devotes an incredible amount of time to research.
Watching film is certainly an important exercise during the pre-draft process, as is poring over statistics. The combine is vital, too, since drills can often show whether a prospect has what it takes to thrive at the next level.
Then there's face-to-face communication. Before devoting millions of dollars and a prized selection in an athlete who's in his early 20s, front office and coaching staffs go to great lengths to get to know the young man—on and off the field. Courtesy of WalterFootball.com, here's a list of the players who have reportedly visited with the Falcons in some capacity. (An explanation for the different types of visits can be found below the names.)
- Brandon Allen, QB, Arkansas (WOR)
- Jack Allen, C, Michigan State (WOR)
- Stephen Anderson, FB, California (WOR)
- Danny Anthrop, WR, Purdue (EW)
- Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State (COM)
- Sterling Bailey, DE/3-4DE, Georgia (LOC)
- Alex Balducci, DT, Oregon (EW)
- Karnorris Benson, WR, Western Carolina (WOR)
- Moritz Wilhelm Boehringer, WR, Germany (PRI)
- Trevone Boykin, QB, TCU (WOR)
- Jake Brendel, C, UCLA (EW)
- Kevin Byard^, S, Middle Tennessee (WOR, LOC)
- De'Vondre Campbell, OLB, Minnesota (PRI)
- Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State (WOR)
- Fahn Cooper, OT, Ole Miss (EW)
- Su'a Cravens^, OLB/S, USC (STM, PRI)
- Joe Dahl, G/OT, Washington State (WOR)
- Clay DeBord, OT, Eastern Washington (STM)
- KJ Dillon, SS, West Virginia (PRI)
- Kenyan Drake, RB, Alabama (PRI)
- Leonard Floyd^, OLB/3-4OLB, Georgia (COM, PRI, WOR)
- Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame (COM%)
- Darion Griswold, TE, Arkansas State (EW)
- Javon Hargrave, DT, South Carolina State (EW)
- Joel Heath, DT, Michigan State (WOR)
- Kevin Hogan, QB, Stanford (WOR)
- Tyrone Holmes, OLB/DE/3-4OLB, Montana (EW)
- Austin Hooper, TE, Stanford (WOR)
- Germain Ifedi, OT, Texas A&M (WOR)
- Matt Ioannidis, DT, Temple (SR)
- Myles Jack, OLB, UCLA (PRI)
- Jordan Jenkins, OLB/3-4OLB, Georgia (COM)
- Deion Jones^, OLB, LSU (SR, WOR)
- Bronson Kaufusi, DE/3-4DE, Brigham Young (STM)
- Shaq Lawson^, DE/3-4OLB, Clemson (COM, WOR)
- Darron Lee, OLB, Ohio State (WOR)
- Antonio Longino, OLB, Arizona State (EW)
- Lene Maiava, OT/G, Arizona (EW)
- Blake Martinez, ILB, Stanford (WOR)
- Braxton Miller, WR, Ohio State (SR)
- Keanu Neal^, S, Florida (WOR, PRO)
- Sherrod Neasman, S, Florida Atlantic (PRI)
- Dadi Lhomme Nicolas, OLB, Virginia Tech (PRI)
- Victor Ochi, OLB/DE/3-4OLB, Stony Brook (EW)
- Emmanuel Ogbah, DE/3-4OLB, Oklahoma State (PRI)
- Joshua Perry, OLB, Ohio State (SR)
- Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama (PRI)
- Luke Rhodes, ILB, William & Mary (PRO)
- Mike Rose, DE, NC State (EW)
- Jake Rudock, QB, Michigan (EW)
- Steven Scheu, TE, Vanderbilt (EW)
- Hunter Sharp, WR, Utah State (EW)
- Justin Simmons, S, Boston College (PRI)
- Terrance Smith^, OLB/ILB, Florida State (EW, LOC)
- Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana (PRI)
- Lawrence Thomas, DE, Michigan State (WOR)
- Joe Thuney, G, NC State (COM)
- Destiny Vaeao, DT, Washington State (WOR)
- Nick Vannett, TE, Ohio State (PRO)
- Nick Vigil, ILB, Utah State (PRI)
- DeAndre Washington, RB, Texas Tech (SR)
- Josh Woodrum, QB, Liberty (WOR)
SR - Senior Bowl meeting.
EW - East-West Shrine meeting.
COM - Combine meeting.
INT - Interested.
VINT - Very Interested.
PRO - Pro Day or campus meeting/workout.
LOC - Local visit. Prospect making a local visit.
PRI - Private visit. Prospect making an official 30 visit.
WOR - Private Workout. Members of an organization working out a player in private.
STM - Some Type of Meeting. *
*% - indicates more than one meeting at an event.
^ - has met with team at more than one event.
# - indicates meeting set up outside of the 2016 Senior Bowl or the 2016 East-West Shrine Game
Analysis:There are some interesting names on this list who've had multiple meetings with Atlanta. Potential first round selections Darron Lee, Leonard Floyd, Reggie Ragland and Shaq Lawson have all met with the Falcons twice; S'ua Cravens and Keanu Neal, two excellent safety prospects, have done the same.
**So has Kevin Byard: an under-the-radar safety from Middle Tennessee State. Projected to go in the fifth or sixth round by CBS Sports, the Lithonia native tallied 19 interceptions as a Blue Raider and ran four of them back for touchdowns. An all-conference nominee during each of his four campaigns at MTSU, Byard is considered a well-built defensive back who is good in converage and is reliable in the open field.
Outside linebacker Terrance Smith, a Florida State alum, connected with Atlanta during the East-West Shrine Game and at a local visit. Another Georgia native—he hails from Decatur—Smith is expected to be drafted in the seventh round or sign as a UFA, according to CBS. With impressive range and "terrific" speed, the 6-foot-3, 235-pounder could have the skill set needed to excel in Dan Quinn's system.