While the NFL Draft receives most of the excitement from fans and media, those players who ultimately go undrafted can have a huge impact on teams. The Atlanta Falcons have shown that to be true with a number of impactful undrafted free agents through the years.
There are a lot of talented UDFAs out there, you just have to search for them. For the Falcons, searching every inch of the country has been one of their biggest priorities as a majority of their signings are from small schools that many people haven't even heard of.
The Atlanta Falcons have been targeting small-school prospects after the draft
Ever since being hired by the Atlanta Falcons, general manager Terry Fontenot (and his staff) have been hard at work searching the entire country for players who can make his team better.
Take last year for example, the Falcons used a second-round pick on a player from Montana State, a school that calls the FCS home. While it isn't difficult to see Troy Andersen's talent, it still takes good scouting and confidence to take a player from a small school in the second round.
Then following the 2022 NFL Draft, Fontenot decided to sign undrafted free agents from the following schools: Ferris State, UC Davis, UTSA, Portland State, Central Connecticut, Montana State, and Virginia State.
UTSA would be the only school that the majority knew about before all the signings.
In the present day, Fontenot has followed that exact trend again. Some of the schools he has signed UDFAs from or invited players to rookie minicamp from are Buffalo, Oklahoma Baptist, Rice, Henderson State, Southeastern Louisiana, UTSA, Arkansas State, Appalachian State, Ouachita Baptist, North Dakota State, and Eastern Michigan.
When Rice, Buffalo, UTSA, Appalachian State, and North Dakota State are among the more well-known schools you pull from, you know you have a hard-working front office.
Some of these players were talented enough to get drafted but played for teams that got glossed over. Not every team brings in this many players from small schools, so it is a credit to how detailed the staff is for the Falcons.