Falcons Signing ‘Very Talented, Very Raw’ Rookie Quarterback: Report

Feleipe Franks

Tim Warner/Getty Images Feleipe Franks of the Arkansas Razorbacks escapes pressure by DeMarvin Leal of the Texas A&M Aggies on October 31, 2020.

On Saturday night the Atlanta Falcons reportedly signed a slew of rookie undrafted free agents. One of the 20 UDFAs is a quarterback, that being Feleipe Franks, who Tom Pelissero of NFL Network describes as “very talented and very raw,” and an “intriguing project.”

It’s perhaps a minor surprise that Franks—6-foot-6 and 228 pounds—went undrafted, as many analysts regarded him as a late-round pick.

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Things to Like About Feleipe Franks

The number one thing that stands out about Franks is his prototypical size and arm strength, which is self-evident both from the pocket and while he is on the move. He also improved dramatically after transferring from Florida to Arkansas, and actually provided some lift to the Razorbacks’ program.

In fact, during his one season in Fayetteville (2020), Franks broke an Arkansas single-season record by completing 68.5 percent of his passes (163 of 238) in nine games—all against SEC opposition. He also helped the Razorbacks snap a 20-game SEC losing streak, leading them to three wins (Tennessee, Mississippi, Mississippi State) during the team’s all-SEC slate.

All told, he passed for 2,017 yards and 17 touchdowns against only four interceptions while averaging 8.9 yards per attempt.

Things to Worry About

On the other hand, Franks didn’t look like he had an NFL future during his three years at Florida.

As a redshirt freshman in 2017, Franks played in 11 games and finished with nearly 1,500 passing yards and nine touchdowns. In 2018, he threw for nearly 2,500 yards and 24 touchdowns in 13 games. Then he missed most of the 2019 campaign due to season-ending ankle surgery, which opened the door for Kyle Trask (drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second round) to take his job.

In terms of his weaknesses, Pro Football Focus notes that Franks’ “underneath ball placement is very erratic.” Also, he is a “one speed thrower” who “freezes under pressure” and is “slow to get off his first read when it’s not there.”

“With Franks, you’re drafting pure arm strength hoping you can fix a lot of things that are typically tough to fix,” concludes PFF, reiterating that Franks “struggles when forced to throw anything other than a fastball and he crumbles when facing with pressure.”

Franks Was Drafted By the Boston Red Sox in 2019

Looking deeper into his background, you notice that Franks was a four-star recruit who had more than 20 scholarship offers coming out of Florida’s Wakulla High School in 2016. That includes other SEC schools like Alabama, LSU and Clemson. He threw for 2,766 yards and 35 touchdowns as a senior in high school while also serving as the team’s kicker and punter. While at the University of Florida he was selected by the Boston Red Sox in the 31st round of the 2019 MLB Amateur Draft, despite not playing baseball since high school.

Franks joins a quarterback group led by Matt Ryan, with A.J. McCarron (Bengals, Raiders, Texans) signed during the draft to be Ryan’s backup.

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