After the first couple days of training camp, we take a look at how the Falcons rookies are performing.
As stated in “The life of an NFL rookie”, training camp is when the rookies get a good feel of how life in the NFL is lived. In this year’s Falcons Training Camp, I will be providing updates and progression of the drafted rookies as well as my projection on how they’ll perform in the upcoming season and moving forward.
1st Round Pick – WR Calvin Ridley
Calvin Ridley is every bit as advertised. He’s a very savvy route runner and an extremely hard worker. He gives every rep his all and consistently works on his footwork. He’s certainly been working on his press release (release when pressed on line of scrimmage).
He’s also much faster than I initially thought. His footwork, quickness, speed and size allows him to be versatile. I expect that Coach Sarkisian will have him lining up in the Z, slot, and even in the X at times during the season as he’s being moved around during camp. He has certainly made some good catches, and he seems to be gelling well with Ryan and the offense.
It’s apparent that he’s familiar with the offensive scheme and terminology. I really can’t wait to see this kid on the field.
2nd Round Pick – CB Isaiah Oliver
I loved the pick of Oliver coming out of Colorado. Oliver has ridiculous length and underrated speed himself. The most important aspect of things now for Oliver is getting the reps because of the learning curve that comes with being a CB in the NFL.
Naturally, Coach Quinn has moved Oliver outside and in the slot to see where he’s better suited. He’s taking plenty of reps against the likes of Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley and even Mohammad Sanu. He’s certainly won some and lost some, but against this talented group, that’s going to happen. He still has some technique issues to work on, but he’s certainly taking in the coaching and improving with each rep.
What strikes me about Oliver is his ability to learn quickly. Oliver is also a natural athlete. The more reps Oliver gets, the better for him. He could see playing time early on the defense, but it’s certainly no rush considering the depth the Falcons have at CB.
3rd Round Pick – DT/NT Deadrin Senat
Senat is a short, stout and extremely strong nose tackle. He has natural leverage and has heavy hands. His punches are jarring. People like to compare him to Jarrett, but I don’t like that comparison. Yes they’re approximately the same height and size, but Jarrett is more explosive and quicker off the snap. Also, Senat may just be a little stronger than Jarrett. He’s certainly showing the ability to get into the backfield for TFLs in camp. He’s also very tough and a hard worker (sensing a theme here?).
The fact that he stays in Jarrett’s ear shows his willingness to soak up all knowledge he can. Tehnique wise, he still needs to work on his hands and quickness off the snap because of his length. He was actually solid in 1-on-1 drills, so he certainly is catching on quickly. We have a good, solid Nose Tackle on our hands for years to come.
4th Round Pick – RB Ito Smith
I have a very small sample size so far of Smith. Ito first arrived at camp yesterday, but I must say I’m very surprised with his abilities. He has great quickness and also has more natural hands than I expected. Smith is the kind of RB that will embarrass defenders in space with his cutting ability. He’s a little behind practice wise and he’ll have to work on blocking, but I see why the Falcons like him. He’s certainly well suited for the Zone Blocking Scheme and he’s the type that you want to put in space. That’s where he’ll be most effective in my opinion.
6th Round pick – WR Russell Gage
I must say something right now. Russell Gage may be my favorite player of the draft so far. As crazy as that may sound, this guy is a football player period. He has a level of hustle that you just can’t coach. He runs EVERY drill at full speed and is that ‘dirty work’ type of player. He’s learning the intricacies of WR, but will make his way onto the roster as a special teams ace. There’s no shame at all in that and he plays with a chip on his shoulder.
6th Round pick – LB Foye Oluokun
The first word I thought when I saw Foye is athlete. He’s taller and bigger than I initially thought and he’s explosive! Like I stated before, I really hate making player comparisons, but athletically he is up there with Deion Jones and De’vondre Campbell. Yes, I said it. He’s one heck of an athlete and is highly intelligent. He seems to come prepared every practice and that’s certainly a plus for a rookie. Foye could be better than expected as the season progresses. Naturally, he will be a Special Teams player, but he’s also a moldable piece of clay for Coach Quinn and Coach UIbrich. If he fully develops, he could be an important part of the team.