The Atlanta Falcons have found players in the undrafted free agent market in recent years. Ryan Schraeder carved out a six-year career after being picked up as an undrafted free agent in 2013 from Valdosta State University.
Backup quarterback Kurt Benkert was an undrafted player from the University of Virginia in 2018. Benkert was on the Falcons practice squad in 2018 before missing the entire season in 2019 with an injury.
Benkert’s college teammate Olamide Zaccheas earned his way onto the practice squad and eventually found some meaningful snaps late in the season after going undrafted in 2019. The Falcons' longest touchdown of the season came on the legs of Zaccheas after a 93-yard score against the Carolina Panthers in week 14.
Austin Larkin and Jaeden Graham were both undrafted players seeing big snaps for the Falcons when 2019 ended.
The 2020 class of undrafted players has a few intriguing prospects that could stick either on the 53-man roster or practice squad this season and find themselves with big roles in the years to come.
Jared Pinkney, tight end, Vanderbilt
Once considered one of the draft’s better tight Pinkney slipped all out of the first seven rounds before being snapped up by the Falcons.
Pinkney caught 114 passes in four seasons with the Commodores. 2019 was his best season as he hauled in 50 passes for 774 yards and seven touchdowns. Pinkney returned to school to shaky quarterback play and an injury that kept him out four games.
Pinkney could be a stick player simply based off the numbers on the Falcons’ roster. The tight end position has one true NFL starter in Hayden Hurst. Graham and Khari Lee had a few chances to establish himself in the NFL before playing in XFL in the winter.
Pinkney adds a lot of the same things Austin Hooper did for Matt Ryan. Pinkney is overly overpowering in physical traits as he ran 4.96 in the 40-yard dash at his pro day. Pinkney is 6’4, 255 pounds so he acts as a big target to dump down to and adds value as a blocker.
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Mikey Daniel, RB/FB, South Dakota State University
Daniel doubles as a big bruising running back, which is something a team can never have enough of when considering the unknown health of lead back Todd Gurley and the injury history of Ito Smith.
At 6’2, 235 pounds Daniel’s real value could be as a fullback. The Falcons haven’t feature the position as much the last few seasons after the departure of Patrick DiMarco in 2017. The Falcons used Keith Smith as their fullback last season and he returns to the fold in 2020.
If Daniel provides some value in the run game or passing game, he could slowly eat at the veteran’s heels as the fullback of the future. Daniel ran for 1,728 yards and 29 touchdowns.
Sailosi Latu, Defensive Tackle, San Jose State University
You can’t teach 6’3, 334 pounds. Latu is already 26-years-old as a rookie but he’s still fairly new to the sport of football having only come to the United State as a 16-year-old from Nativeove Vaioola, Tonga.
Latu is a former rugby player and understands how to play with leverage. His size and stoutness alone makes him a candidate as a short yardage defender early in his career.
The Falcons have leaned to toward the lighter, more explosive penetrating type defensive tackles in recent years with Grady Jarrett and Deadrin Senat.
The Falcons didn’t add much by way of free agency at the position. They did use a second-round selection on Marlon Davidson who was a defensive end in college. Davidson has some of the size that makes him an attractive interior player.
Latu may come into the season more natural to that role than even the higher drafted Davidson. Latu spent two seasons playing the nose tackle position. Latu recorded 107 tackles in two seasons at SJSU.