Falcons Sign Former Browns, Cowboys Defensive Tackle

Eli Ankou

Christian Petersen/Getty Images Defensive tackle Eli Ankou of the Cleveland Browns on December 15, 2019.

On Monday the Atlanta Falcons announced that they have signed a pair of defensive linemen in the wake of this past weekend’s rookie minicamp. First came news of the addition of nose tackle Olive Sagapolu (pronounced oh-LEE-vay SONG-uh-POE-loo), then the Falcons also formally announced the signing of defensive lineman Eli Ankou.

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Eli Ankou: NFL Vagabond

While Sagapolu is a former cheerleader with exceptional athleticism for a man of his size, the 26-year-old Ankou (who went to college at UCLA) has a distinct NFL track record, having appeared in 27 games with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Cleveland Browns and Dallas Cowboys. That includes two starts with the Browns in 2019 and seven games with the Cowboys during the second half of last season.

Actually, he entered the league in May 2017 when he signed with the Houston Texans as a rookie undrafted free agent, but when he failed to make Houston’s opening day roster the Jaguars claimed him on waivers. After two seasons in Jacksonville and a season in Cleveland he spent time with the Indianapolis Colts last year, only to return to the Texans in October after Indy waived him. But the Cowboys apparently thought enough of him (or were desperate enough on defense) to trade a 2022 seventh-round pick to Houston to acquire him midseason and press him into action.

All told Ankou has produced 31 career tackles (16 solo), including two tackles for loss, two quarterback hits and 1.5 sacks—the same number of sacks he registered during his entire college career at UCLA.

To make room on the roster for the new acquisitions the Falcons jettisoned defensive lineman Eli Howard (Texas Tech), who was signed as an undrafted free agent shortly after the conclusion of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Falcons Tryout Hoax Victim Receives an Invite

Meanwhile, there’s been a new development in the recent Falcons tryout hoax story, in which former Austin Peay defensive back Juantarius Bryant was tricked into believing Atlanta had invited him to its recent rookie minicamp.

According to ESPN senior NFL insider Adam Schefter, Bryant has been invited to the HUB tryout on May 23 in San Diego. According to Schefter, other players who have received invites include quarterbacks Shea Patterson (Michigan/Kansas City Chiefs) and QB Alex Hornibrook (Wisconsin/Florida State), as well as former Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, former Carolina Panthers cornerback Bené Benewikere and former Los Angeles Chargers linebacker Korey Toomer.

HUB was founded by longtime sports agent Don Yee to help connect aspiring free agents with NFL teams and other professional football leagues. According to the organization, its first two events of 2021 “led to seven free agents signing NFL contracts, four more receiving mini-camp invites, and three others signing with CFL teams,” with the aforementioned Olive Sagapolu being one of the seven to get contracts and Slippery Rock quarterback Roland Rivers III (the former D2 Player of the Year) one of the players to get a minicamp invite.

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