Entering his fourth year, tight end Jaeden Graham will be competing for a spot on the Atlanta Falcons roster during training camp––with the first official practice kicking off Thursday.
Graham originally broke into the NFL in 2018 as an undrafted free agent and has learned a lot along the way:
“The biggest lesson that I’ve learned is that I belong in the NFL,” Graham said in a recent interview with The Draft Network’s Justin Melo (via the Falcoholic).” When I came out of college, a lot of people had a bunch of questions on whether or not I could cut it in this league. A lot of people didn’t think I’d even get an opportunity to showcase my talent.
Heck, a lot of people didn’t think I could even crack a 90-man roster for training camp. You said it. I’m entering my fourth year now. I have new-found confidence in myself and my abilities. I can put a product on the field that’s good enough for the NFL. That’s the biggest thing that I’ve learned; I’ve learned to believe in myself. I carry that confidence with me on gameday.”
After flashing some talent as a receiver during previous preseasons and on special teams, Graham will be tasked with focusing on his weakness (blocking) in order to earn a spot.
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The Battle Graham Is Looking Forward to in Training Camp
There will be plenty of competition battles to keep an eye on during training camp, but the one Graham is looking forward to is his own.
He opened up to Melo about who on the team has “really pushed him” to be better.
“I’d start by saying that I think there are a lot of guys like that in the league,” Graham said. Every team has them. That’s why this league is as competitive as it is. When you come out of college and make it to the NFL, your game has to elevate. It happens naturally because you have new competition to go up against. The level of the game elevates.
Someone that I actually really enjoy competing against is Foyesade Oluokun. He’s a linebacker on our team. We were college teammates at Yale. I loved competing against him in college as well. He’s been an absolute baller at the NFL level. He’s played some fantastic football for us. When you go up against him in practice, you know you’re gonna get his ‘A’ game every single rep. That sort of competition has helped me become a better player. I always look forward to the opportunity to compete against him. ”
Oluokon also entered the NFL in 2018 as a sixth-round pick by Atlanta. He moved into a starting role just last season and had a breakout year, despite the team’s 4-12 overall record.
Lee Smith Is on the COVID-19/Reserve List
It’s unclear if Smith tested positive for the virus or made the list due to contact tracing. Either way, he will be expected to follow league protocols and quarantine.
With Smith sidelined, for now, Graham will get more visibility to showcase how he has improved over the offseason.
Another upside for Graham is that his former Yale tight ends coach, Chandler Henley, is now an assistant offensive line coach with the Falcons.
And while we don’t know the details of the Falcons’ new offense just yet, we should expect head coach Arthur Smith to run two-tight end formations, the same offense he ran and had success with as an offensive coordinator with the Tennessee Titans.