The Falcons and head Coach Arthur Smith have been hard at work for the past week since NFL training camp began in Flowery Branch to prepare for the upcoming 2022 NFL regular season. Today and tomorrow, we take a break from the normal format and discuss who (in my eyes) has seen their stocks rise or fall. Note: this does not necessarily mean players are rising or falling in the unofficial depth charts. Just taking note of players who’ve caught the eye for better or for worse. We start today with the offense
Kyle Pitts - This one’s easy. Pitts is poised to kick on from a successful rookie season and looks every bit of the elite TE that he was drafted to be. Still at just 21 years of age until October, it’s scary to think how good Pitts can be now that he has some seasoning to his game. Easily the team’s most dynamic player.
Drake London - The Falcons first round draft pick was controversial in some circles, with some saying that there were more important needs than at wide receiver. But London is showing that he has a real ability to win 1v1 battles against top-caliber NFL defensive backs. And with the size that both he and Pitts present, it makes Atlanta’s pass-catching corp unique in its sheer physicality.
Bryan Edwards - Edwards doesn’t possess quite the amount of physical tools as his counterpart London, but whatever he lacks he more than makes up for with his technical attributes – his hands, body control and ability to make catches in traffic. Though he’s been hampered by a shoulder injury, he’ll be the Falcons’ receiver with the most targets on the season if he stays healthy.
Damien Williams - It’s harder for us on the ground to fully judge the running backs, but among the group, the 30-year-old vet has been talked about the most by the coaching staff. His rise certainly makes things interesting in a crowded battle at the position, which includes rookie Tyler Allgeier.
Elijah Wilkinson - Has usurped Jalen Mayfield as the team’s starting LG. Though that’s perhaps due to the latter’s struggles than the former’s performance.
Kaleb McGary - The former first-round pick (who the team traded up to get) entered camp with his job on the line. And so far, he’s been with the starting unit every single day. Not only that, he hasn’t been noticeably beaten in pass protection, and Arthur Smith even credited him Wednesday for giving stern tests for the team’s rookie edge rushers Arnold Ebiketie and Deangelo Malone.
Feleipe Franks - The college quarterback turned NFL TE seems to be making a seamless transition so far in this camp. We’ll see how well Franks can hold up as an undersized player at the position, but the route-running and hands are legit. At worst he’s an occasional red zone personnel package player, but he has every opportunity to expand his game. He has a mentor in his older brother Jordan Franks, with whom he watched film in the offseason.
Jalen Mayfield - Mayfield has really struggled so far this training camp. He’s committed penalties and he’s been beaten in pass protection – basically the two fatal flaws he could show up to this point. Arthur Smith said Wednesday that he’s happy with “98 percent” of the offensive line so far in camp. You can’t help but wonder if Mayfield is on the wrong side of that equation.