Atlanta Falcons: 5 Players Whose Stock Is on the Rise Heading into OTAs
The Atlanta Falcons' full-team organized team activities officially get underway on Tuesday, May 29, and that means it's time to take a look at whose stock is on the rise following the team's three-day rookie minicamp in early May.
Of course, practicing in shorts and a helmet doesn't paint as clear a picture as full-contact drills do when it comes to determining who'll make the final roster, but it's still a good opportunity to see how the players are progressing as they get ready for the 2012 season.
Here's a look at a few players who have impressed in their short stay at Flowery Branch so far.
The Falcons' first pick in the 2012 NFL draft, Peter Konz, looks to be off to a good start in his new home.
Said head coach Mike Smith on the first day of rookie minicamp, "I thought Peter did a nice job. Of course, Peter is being cross trained at two positions. He spent most of his day at the guard position, but he did also take some snaps. I think it’s obvious, he’s a big strong guy."
Konz will be competing for the starting right guard position right away, and while the season is still months away, he very well could be locked in for the spot if he continues to earn high praise heading into OTAs and training camp.
Admittedly, there isn't much news on Jonathan Massaquoi's performance on the field in the Falcons' three-day rookie minicamp, but it's what he's done off the field that has his stock rising.
Massaquoi came into rookie minicamp noticeably trimmer than he was last season, losing about 15 pounds since the end of his senior season at Troy.
“We felt looking at him as a junior and then as a senior, he looked to be heavier as a senior,” Smith said. “He played a little lighter as a junior when he had more production. His weight is down and he looks a lot leaner than he did in the season.”
Weight loss alone won't exactly give him a great advantage to take over for John Abraham or Ray Edwards anytime soon, but it's definitely a step in the right direction for a rookie fifth-round draft pick trying to make the team.
While he may not admit it himself, Falcons rookie Bradie Ewing looks to have the inside track to take over the starting fullback job with Ovie Mughelli having been recently cut from the team.
“Bradie is a guy that’s very athletic, can adjust and he is a guy that has pretty good hands. He doesn’t have the statistics in college, as far a running the football so you think he is just a lead blocker and that’s all he does. He does catch the football, catches it very well and he has good hands,” said Smith following opening day of rookie minicamp.
He won't be given the job outright with second-year fullback Mike Cox in his way, but continuing to impress against team veterans for the first time this week will only help his cause.
Linebacker Matt Hansen figures to be a long shot to make the team after the Falcons cut him in early September last year.
However, he was invited back to tryout once again this year and looks to be much improved considering he earned this prediction from Atlantafalcons.com's Daniel Cox: "[...] after one day, he's one of my dark horse roster favorites," he said of Hansen on the opening day of rookie minicamp.
While that's quite the praise for a former college free agent, the fact Hansen lasted until the final roster cut down last year gives him a decent chance to make the team this time around.
Atlanta Falcons secondary coach Tim Lewis had nothing but positive words for Falcons' sixth-round draft pick Charles Mitchell following day one of rookie minicamp:
“He is doing a good job,” Lewis said. “It’s a learning process for them. Learning the terminology is the toughest thing right now. If I could just evaluate him athletically, he looks like he fits in. We can find a way to use his talents.”
Usually these minicamps are a time to see how much and how quickly the newcomers can learn the system, and it's a good sign for Mitchell if the team is already looking for a way to fit him in after just one day.
He'll likely find a spot on special teams this year if the athletic evaluation is up to par with the coaches' expectations.