Feleipe Franks

Falcons To Use Feleipe Franks In Hybrid Role

Briefly thought to be the winner of the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes, the Falcons were among the teams most heavily connected to a quarterback in this year’s draft after the Browns swooped in and submitted the winning bid for Watson. Atlanta did indeed select a QB, adding Cincinnati signal-caller Desmond Ridder in the third round, and the club also signed free agent passer Marcus Mariota in March, shortly after trading franchise icon Matt Ryan to the Colts.

With Mariota and Ridder at the top of the first QB depth chart of the post-Ryan era, 2021 UDFA Feleipe Franks was facing long odds to see the field, at least as a quarterback. As such, the team has converted Franks to a “hybrid” player, as head coach Arthur Smith recently told reporters, including D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (subscription required).

Franks enjoyed a successful redshirt sophomore season with Florida in 2019 and then suffered a season-ending ankle injury early in the 2020 season. He finished his collegiate career with SEC rival Arkansas, throwing 17 TDs against just four interceptions in nine games with the Razorbacks in 2021. The Falcons signed him after he went undrafted last April, and he made the roster as the third-string QB behind Ryan and Josh Rosen. He was elevated to QB2 late in the season.

While Franks will still sit in the quarterback room and take reps as a passer, he is also getting work as a tight end, where he got some practice time last season as well. At 6-6, Franks has the right height for a TE, but at 228 pounds, he is a little light relative to full-time tight ends around the league.

“Right now, it doesn’t mean that doesn’t change, but right now he’s working more at tight end than quarterback, but he also is a quarterback,” offensive coordinator Dave Ragone said.

Perhaps the Falcons are envisioning a role like the one Taysom Hill has enjoyed in recent seasons with the Saints, though Franks’ 2.2 yards-per-carry rate as a collegian is a far cry from Hill’s 5.3 YPC average, which he has replicated as a pro. If Franks is to have success as a hybrid player, it will likely be more as a receiver than as a runner.

Atlanta, of course, has 2021 first-rounder Kyle Pitts entrenched as its top tight end option, and the team has also made significant investments into the rest of its receiving corps this offseason, signing fellow TE Anthony Firkser, trading for WR Bryan Edwards, and drafting wideout Drake London with the No. 8 overall pick. So Franks will still have something of an uphill battle to make an impact as a pass catcher, but he has embraced the opportunity.

“I’m doing whatever they ask me to,” he said. “There are a lot more things I have to learn. A lot of the tight ends in the room have helped me with my route crafting and blocking. There are a ton of things I need to learn.”

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 1/1/22

Here are the New Year’s Day activations from and placements on the reserve/COVID-19 lists:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: G Oli Udoh

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: CB Bryce Hall

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Falcons Sign 20 UDFAs

The Falcons became the latest team to announce their 2021 UDFA class on Monday, and it’s a big one. Atlanta inked the following 20 rookies to contracts:

We already had full write-ups on the Franks and Hawkins signings, which you can read here and here. Hawkins’ deal came with $35K in guaranteed money, a $5K signing bonus and $30K salary guarantee, veteran NFL reporter Aaron Wilson tweets.

Meanwhile Thompson, the linebacker from Mississippi State, got $23K guaranteed, Wilson tweets. The Falcons signed three players from Mississippi State, so clearly they liked the program. The signings are pretty spread around, not concentrated on any one position.

QB Feleipe Franks, Falcons Agree To Deal

Two of this year’s six Senior Bowl quarterbacks were not drafted this weekend. Both, however, now have UDFA deals.

Shortly after Jamie Newman agreed to terms with the Eagles, Feleipe Franks chose the Falcons, according to his agency (on Twitter). Like Newman, Franks spent time at two different southeastern programs. He finished his career at Arkansas.

[RELATED: Falcons To Sign A.J. McCarron]

A former Florida recruit, Franks worked as the Gators’ starter as an underclassman. In 2018, he threw 24 touchdown passes compared to just six interceptions. However, an ankle injury ended his 2019 season early. Kyle Trask, who ended up going in the second round to the Buccaneers, took over the Gators’ QB1 role last year. After transferring, Franks threw 17 TD passes and just four INTs in nine Razorbacks games last season.

The Falcons have tripled their quarterback room this week. For months, Matt Ryan resided as the only quarterback on the team’s roster. A.J. McCarron and Franks now join him. The latter will reunite with ex-Florida teammate Kyle Pitts, whom Atlanta selected fourth overall.