Why Undrafted?: Feleipe Franks, QB, Arkansas

This series was created a number of years ago in response to questions about why certain well-known prospects went unselected in NFL drafts. For these articles, I reach out to sources with NFL teams to find out why their organizations passed on drafting a given player, and/or, what were the reasons for other teams to pass on that prospect. The positive response to “Why Undrafted” and questions from readers about why prospects were drafted lower than the media expectations led us to create the parallel series “Why the Slide?”

Both series are back this year. Feel free to email me requests for Why the Slide? and Why Undrafted? at [email protected]. I can’t promise to get to all of them, but I will do my best and definitely will respond to the email.

Even though the NFL is inclined to go with quarterbacks who present a dual threat with their passing and running abilities, there still is a place for the big-armed pocket passer. Mac Jones and Kyle Trask, who are both pocket passers who don’t offer much mobility, went in the first two rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft, and both of them are smaller and have weaker arms than Arkansas quarterback Feleipe Franks. Jones and Trask, however, performed vastly better in college, showing better accuracy, solid decision-making, and consistency. Still, Franks flashed some at Florida and had a solid senior season at Arkansas that illustrated his powerful arm to along with his nice size. He completed 69 percent of his passes for the Razorbacks in 2020, racking up 2,107 yards, 17 touchdowns and four interceptions. All in all, some fans were left surprised when Franks fell undrafted.

Team sources say Franks wasn’t drafted simply because he graded out as a free agent. They say he is big and has a strong arm, but he is still purely a developmental player. Not enough teams were sufficiently interested in Franks to invest a pick on him.

After going undrafted, Franks signed with the Atlanta Falcons, which was a perfect landing spot. Atlanta is set with starter Matt Ryan, but Ryan is aging and the franchise doesn’t have its future starter currently on the roster after deciding against drafting Justin Fields, Mac Jones or Kyle Trask. Franks instantly steps in as the third-string quarterback behind Ryan and veteran journeyman backup A.J. McCarron.

The Falcons might bring in a fourth quarterback to help run practices in training camp, but Franks is in a great position to be a third-string developmental player. He also is a good scheme fit for head coach Arthur Smith and offensive coordinator Dave Ragone. While Franks could be disappointed he wasn’t drafted, he is fortunate to have landed in a situation where he is instantly third on the depth chart. The Falcons offer a great opportunity for Franks to start his NFL career.

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