The Atlanta Falcons’ eight rookie draft picks stepped onto an NFL practice field for the first time Friday. Quarterback Desmond Ridder was not impressed.
“He pulled us over (after Friday’s practice) and was like, ‘We messed up a lot today,’” wide receiver Drake London said. “That’s part of being a rookie and Day 1, but he brought us over there and was like, ‘We’ve got to get this shit together.’ Excuse my language, but that’s just the leader he is.”
Fifty-three players participated in Atlanta’s rookie minicamp this week, including the Falcons’ eight NFL Draft picks, 13 undrafted free-agent signees, 26 tryout players and six players already on the roster. All the participants are staying in the dormitories at the team’s practice facility, where London, Ridder, running back Tyler Allgeier and tight end John FitzPatrick are rooming together.
“We have been going over plays, chopping it up,” London said. “(Ridder’s) just like me; we’re on the same mission. I’m happy we came in together.”
Along with emerging as a team leader in the first two days of his professional career, Ridder is making sure his suitemates are up and at the team facility early.
“I told Desmond, ‘Don’t be so loud in the morning,’” FitzPatrick said. “He’s like jumping around the room. I don’t know, he’s just loud. I had to tell him to quiet down. It’s like a bull in a china shop. I don’t even know what to say. He said he’ll work on it.”
A combined hour of Friday’s and Saturday’s practices were open to the media. That included some 11-on-11 walk-through snaps but no one-on-one work, which makes it all but impossible to get a feel for the things that were question marks for the players coming into the draft. Things like London’s speed and Ridder’s accuracy.
“We’re going to build these guys up. I view it really as more of a rookie orientation,” Falcons head coach Arthur Smith said. “We’re not in pads, we’re not tackling, we’re not doing one-on-ones. A lot of it is more mental. They wouldn’t be out here if we didn’t think they had the physical skill set, but you do get to evaluate how they can take things we are teaching and bring it to life on the field. It’s not real football until we get into late July and August.”
Still, there were some observations to be made and things to learn in the first in-person interviews of the rookies’ careers, so let’s go through the list.