Breaking Down the Atlanta Falcons' Rookie Class After the Preseason

Scott Carasik@ScottCarasikContributor IISeptember 5, 2012

Breaking Down the Atlanta Falcons' Rookie Class After the Preseason

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    With the 53-man rosters announced, the Falcons have 10 rookies who have either made the active roster or been placed on the reserve.

    The rookies come from all sorts of different backgrounds and have different levels of investment in them. However, the Falcons decided to have somewhat of a youth movement this year and will need some great performances from their rookies to take the next step.

    The following rookies made the Falcons roster this year: QB Dominique Davis, FB Bradie Ewing, TE Adam Nissley, OT Lamar Holmes, OG Peter Konz, OG Phillipkeith Manley, DT Travian Robertson, DE Jonathan Massaquoi, S Charles Mitchell and LS Josh Harris.

Quarterback Dominique Davis

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    Acquired: Undrafted free agent out of East Carolina University

    Preseason Statistics: 33 completions on 56 attempts (58.9 percent), 402 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions. Four rushes for 17 yards and sacked a total of four times all preseason.

    Role with the team: No. 2 Quarterback

    2012 impact: Will spend all year sitting on the bench behind Matt Ryan as a backup.

    Grade: A+

    For someone who wasn't expected to do anything but provide a body on the camp and eventually on the practice-squad roster. Davis has completely impressed all preseason. He still needs work in his decision making, but the Falcons could do much worse than the former Pirate.

Fullback Bradie Ewing

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    Acquired: Fifth-round pick out of Wisconsin

    Preseason Statistics: 1 ST tackle

    Role with the team: Injured reserve

    2012 impact: None. He was placed on injured reserve.

    Grade: Incomplete

    Bradie Ewing was looking to be in the lead for the only fullback job on the roster. Then, he went down with a knee injury and is out for the season. He should be able to contribute and take the starting job when he returns in 2013.

Tight End Adam Nissley

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    Acquired: Undrafted free agent out of Central Florida

    Preseason Statistics: One catch for 16 yards.

    Role with the team: Injured reserve

    2012 impact: None. He was placed on injured reserve.

    Grade: Incomplete

    Adam Nissley was looking solid as a potential long-term solution to a blocking tight end. Despite being just a rookie, he looked to hold the edge over Tommy Gallarda in the battle for third tight end. Then he got injured around the time Lofa Tatupu got hurt and was waived; he was placed on injured reserve after he cleared waivers.

Offensive Tackle Lamar Holmes

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    Acquired: 2012 third-round pick out of Southern Mississippi

    Preseason Statistics: Played in two games

    Role with the team: No. 2 left tackle, No. 3 right tackle

    2012 impact: Likely won't see much time on the field unless Baker gets injured

    Grade: B

    He may not be the best player in the NFL right off the bat. But in the preseason, he has shown his worth as someone with a ton of potential as a long-term starting left tackle. Also, he allowed just one sack in his 80 snaps to a blitzing linebacker. Not bad for someone who was injured for the entire offseason program.

Offensive Guard Peter Konz

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    Acquired: 2012 second-round pick out of Wisconsin

    Preseason Statistics: Played all preseason games.

    Role with the team: Starting right guard

    2012 impact: Should fill the gap left by the departure of Harvey Dahl, one year too late.

    Grade: B

    Despite there not being a formal announcement of either Peter Konz or Garrett Reynolds starting, Konz has earned the job in the eyes of fans. He has shown the ability in the preseason to pass-block better than Reynolds. He also can pull out for screens and is a road-grading run blocker. The Falcons look to have Harvey Dahl Part 2 here and should expect big things from Konz this year.

Offensive Guard Phillipkeith Manley

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    Acquired: Undrafted free agent out of Toledo

    Preseason Statistics: Played all preseason with the second- and third-string offensive lines.

    Role with the team: No. 2 left guard, No. 3 right guard

    2012 impact: Will only see the field in an emergency-type situation.

    Grade: C

    He played with the third-string offensive line until the third preseason game. By that time, he had earned his way into the second-string left guard role over 2011 draft pick Andrew Jackson. His large frame combined with his quick feet gives the Falcons a project similar to what they had in Tyson Clabo and Harvey Dahl for depth.

Defensive Tackle Travian Robertson

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    Acquired: Seventh-round pick out of South Carolina

    Preseason Statistics: Six tackles

    Role with the team: No. 4 defensive tackle, special teams

    2012 impact: Should be able to see around 200 or so snaps as the fourth defensive tackle until Peters comes back.

    Grade: B

    Robertson comes into Atlanta as a seventh-round pick without any expectations but to earn a roster spot. He has done more than that and could challenge Vance Walker for the third spot in the defensive tackle rotation as the season progresses. The massive Robertson gives the Falcons a penetrating, tough defensive tackle who isn't afraid to get his hands dirty.

Defensive End Jonathan Massaquoi

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    Acquired: Fifth-round pick out of Troy

    Preseason Statistics: 13 tackles

    Role with the team: No. 5 defensive end, special teams player

    2012 impact: Will be a special teams player from the beginning with the ability to earn defensive time.

    Grade: B

    Jonathan Massaquoi and Cliff Matthews played so well that the Falcons decided to have six defensive ends make the roster. Massaquoi can line up both on the line or with his hand up and should be able to contribute right away on special teams and possibly even in the sub package.

Safety Charles Mitchell

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    Acquired: Sixth-round pick out of Mississippi State

    Preseason Statistics: 11 tackles

    Role with the team: No. 3 at both safety spots, special-teams ace

    2012 impact: He likely won't see the field on any sort of defensive play, but he should take Schillinger's role as a special-teams ace

    Grade: C

    Charles Mitchell saw extensive action during the four preseason games and played with both the second and the third teams as the strong safety and free safety. His best play came on special teams, though. He will be able to make an early impact with the punt and kick units, but he likely won't see the field as the third safety until 2013.

Long Snapper Josh Harris

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    Acquired: Undrafted free agent out of Auburn

    Preseason Statistics: Played in every preseason game

    Role with the team: Starting Long Snapper

    2012 impact: Will play starting long snapper all season. This includes all clutch kicks.

    Grade: B

    He didn't botch a kick all preseason, but it was still a shock to see him win the job over Joe Zelenka. Harris will be able to prove his worth early, and as long as he doesn't botch any snaps, he should be able to keep his job without issue.


    Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist and Trends and Traffic Writer for Bleacher Report. As a Featured Columnist, he covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He is also the Falcons analyst at Drafttek, runs the NFL Draft Website and hosts Kvetching Draftniks Radio.