Atlanta Falcons: 5 Sleepers That Will "Rise Up" in Training Camp
The Atlanta Falcons kick off their first preseason game as this article is being published.
While the results of that first game could open my eyes to other players on the Falcons' roster, there may be an update coming soon.
Right now, these five players have impressed enough to be considered as potential sleepers heading into tonight's matchup vs. the Baltimore Ravens.
Here are a few Falcons players that may be poised to break out either tonight or as camp progresses.
Dominque Davis, Quarterback
Dominique Davis is an undrafted free agent out of East Carolina who is competing for the third-string quarterback position with John Parker Wilson.
The 6'3" 220-pound Davis threw for 3,225 yards and 25 touchdowns in his senior season, which is a decline from his junior season of 3,955 yards and 37 touchdowns.
The knock on Davis coming out of college was that he was labeled inconsistent with sub-par arm strength. His strengths are his athleticism and he excelled at short to medium routes.
So far in training camp, Davis has been very accurate with his passes and performed well in the combined practice against the Titans this past Monday.
John Parker Wilson was signed by the Falcons as an undrafted free agent in 2009, and after three years, he hasn't made it off the practice squad or challenged fifth-year Falcon Chris Redman for the backup job.
With more strong performances in camp, Davis could very easily make JPW expendable.
Jerrell Harris, Linebacker
Second on my list is LB Jerrell Harris, who has been opening eyes so far in training camp.
Harris, 6'3" 242-pounds, is another undrafted free agent who played for the vaunted Alabama Crimson Tide defense.
Under the guidance of Nick Saban and Kirby Smart, Alabama plays a pro-style 3-4 defense with some 4-3 principles.
Harris started at strongside linebacker for the Crimson Tide and recorded 22 tackles (12 solo), with 2.5 tackles for loss.
In 2010, he started at both strong and weakside linebacker and finished with 24 tackles.
Harris also played six games on 'Bama's special teams, and was used as a backup linebacker during their BCS National Championship season in 2009.
He can play both middle and outside and fits well in the "cross training" role that Coach Mike Smith prefers.
The Falcons’ base alignment is a 4-3 with new DC Mike Nolan introducing some 3-4 looks— which should bode well for Harris' bid to win one of the final 53 spots on the Falcons' roster.
LaMark Brown, Tight End
Once again. my third prediction focuses around another undrafted free agent in Atlanta Falcons training camp.
LaMark Brown, 6'3" 220 pounds from the University of Minnesota-Mankato and Kansas State University, could earn the No. 3 tight end position based on his ability to play H-back for the Falcons.
He was primarily a receiver in college, but has experience at running back as well.
He caught 31 passes for 405 yards and five touchdowns during his senior season at Minnesota-Mankato.
He also added 31 carries for 98 yards and four touchdowns.
Prior to arriving at Minnesota-Mankato, he was a three-year player at Kansas State.
The aforementioned versatility could fit very well into new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter's scheme.
Most of Brown's competition for the third tight end position could come from fellow undrafted free-agents Aron White and Tommy Gallarda.
The winner will likely be the player that will help the most on special teams.
Michael Calvin, Wide Receiver
I am seemingly on an undrafted free-agent roll, so why stop now?
My fourth sleeper is the ultra-fast receiver from California, Michael Calvin, who went undrafted in 2012.
Calvin, 6'2" 210 pounds, ran a 4.32 in the 40-yard dash at Cal’s 2012 Pro Day, which would have been the fastest time at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Calvin played in 37 games for the Golden Bears and made 10 starts. He had 42 catches for 528 yards and one touchdown over his career.
Calvin was one of the standouts last week at Friday Night Lights at Peachtree Ridge.
According to AJC Falcons beat writer, D. Orlando Ledbetter, Calvin impressed with a nice over-the-shoulder catch from John Parker Wilson. He also caught a nice slant route from Dominique Davis.
“It felt great,” Calvin said. “My speed comes off as deceptive. To get out here and show people that I can take the top off of coverage and actually beat defenders was excellent. It was a good night overall.”
How difficult was the catch?
“It was a pretty tough catch because I had to get both feet in bounds too,” Calvin said. “That was one of the toughest catches that I think I’ve had. Working with [wide receivers coach Terry] Robiskie, we do all of these drills that made that catch that much easier.”
The Falcons have a lot of players (Kevin Cone, James Rodgers, Marcus Jackson, Kenny Stafford and Drew Davis) competing for the fifth receiver spot, but Calvin hasn't disappointed so far.
Charles Mitchell, Safety
My fifth selection for training camp sleeper finally veers away from undrafted players.
In the sixth-round of the 2012 NFL Draft, the Falcons selected safety Charles Mitchell.
Mitchell, 5'11" 202 lbs, is a steady performer out of Mississippi State who can play both safety positions (common theme for Falcons players).
For the Bulldogs, he was a special teams ace who was also known as a intelligent, high-character guy with great run-stopping abilities.
He played in 50 games and recorded 283 total tackles with four interceptions during his college career.
He ranked second on the team with 95 tackles (50 solo), while notching three tackles for loss, one sack, six passes defensed and one forced fumble as a senior in 2011.
He's not a superb athlete, but his sure-tackling, ability to diagnose a play and fluid movement is what will keep Mitchell on the final 53-man roster.