Falcons sign right tackle Ryan Schraeder to 5-year extension
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) Ryan Schraeder had no guarantees when the Atlanta Falcons signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2013.
The 6-foot-7, 300-pound right tackle knew he'd have to impress the coaching staff almost immediately.
''When you're undrafted, you come out and have to prove yourself even more to stand out from the guys that were drafted and on the team,'' he said. ''For them to see some talent in me and follow through with it, it's cool.''
Schraeder's perseverance paid off Monday when the Falcons signed him to a five-year contract extension. A person familiar with the deal says it's for $33 million with $12.5 million guaranteed. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because financial terms of the deal were not publicly announced.
He has started 35 straight games, but really began to blossom the last two years in offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme.
''A big deal about the outside zone is being able to play in space with guys and keep them on the line of scrimmage and not give up penetration,'' Schraeder said. ''You've got to be an athletic guy. You've got to be big. You've got to be able to move. It's not an easy offense, but when you have the skill set, you can be successful with it.''
Schraeder's journey to the NFL was somewhat unexpected.
He played only baseball and basketball at Maize High School in Wichita, Kansas and was just 5-foot-7 at the start of his senior year. He grew nine inches by the end of the year, but was still skinny. Scholarships weren't offered in either sport and he spent the following summer delivering products for a local Wichita meat distributor.
His growth spurt wasn't all that surprising. Men on Schraeder's father's side of the family were as tall as 6-6. His mother had a sister who was 6-0.
After his body began to fill out, Schraeder was noticed as a potential talent while playing pickup basketball at Kansas State. An assistant football coach watched him play and said he should reconsider the sport.
Schraeder returned home and spent one season at Butler Community College, then two at Valdosta State. He earned first-team all-America honors for three straight seasons, but still wasn't considered a top NFL prospect.
When the Falcons signed him out of Valdosta State, Schraeder's size wasn't that impressive. Lots of offensive tackles are 6-7, 300, but Schraeder stuck around mostly because of his athleticism and smarts.
''The development he's done over the last three years really set the stage for him to be here for extended time,'' Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said. ''Congrats to him. We're so pumped he's going to be part of it for a long time.''
Schraeder's new contract is the third big investment Atlanta has made on the offensive line in the last three years. Left tackle Jake Matthews was the NFL's No. 6 overall draft pick in 2014. The Falcons made Alex Mack the league's highest paid center in March.
''Hopefully we'll all be here together for a long time and win a lot of games,'' Matthews said. ''That's the plan.''
The Falcons (6-4) host Arizona (4-5-1) on Sunday.
Notes: LCB Desmond Trufant (shoulder, pectoral) and RB Tevin Coleman (hamstring) did some work on the field in practice. Quinn won't officially update their injury status until Wednesday. Trufant missed the first game of his four-year career in the Nov. 13 loss at Philadelphia. Coleman has missed the last three games.
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