Falcons undrafted gem burning the Jets top pick in joint practices

Jared Bernhardt, Atlanta Falcons - Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports
Jared Bernhardt, Atlanta Falcons - Mandatory Credit: Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports /

The Atlanta Falcons‘ need for wide receiver help has been well-documented this whole offseason. Even before the news of Calvin Ridley’s (unfortunate and unfair) season-long suspension, the Falcons were in trouble at the receiver position. Over the course of the last five months, general manager Terry Fontenot has basically had to revamp that entire group and he’s done a pretty good job of it.

Starting with the obvious, the Falcons went out and used their top pick in the 2022 NFL Draft on USC receiver Drake London, one of the best players in this year’s class overall and certainly a potential game-changer in the mold of a Mike Evans — a big bodied receiver who is bordering on unstoppable at the catch point. They also made an under-the-radar trade for former Raiders third-round pick Bryan Edwards, another big receiver with speed who has shown some nice progress in his first two NFL seasons.

Along with reloading the top of the depth chart at receiver, the Falcons obviously went out and took some shots on players after the 2022 NFL Draft. One of the players they took a shot on was a highly intriguing former lacrosse player at Maryland who had one year as a transfer at Ferris State in 2021 to show NFL scouts what he could do as a football player.

Jared Bernhardt is turning heads at Atlanta Falcons camp

Jared Bernhardt, once one of the top lacrosse recruits in the country, is now showing out for the Falcons in training camp and preseason play. He caught one pass in the team’s preseason debut against the Detroit Lions — a game-winning touchdown that was recently the subject of plenty of heartbreak on the HBO show Hard Knocks.

In addition to catching the touchdown to beat the Lions in the Falcons’ preseason opener, Bernhardt is enjoying some nice success against Sauce Gardner — the top pick in this year’s draft for the New York Jets — as the teams have come together for some joint practices.

Bernhardt is definitely making an impression and if he keeps this kind of play up, the Falcons aren’t going to have any choice but to keep him on their final 53-man roster, especially when they are needing more guys to step up at the receiver position. Bernhardt was understandably undrafted but certainly is one of the more intriguing undrafted player stories in the league right now.

A former lacrosse player who got one year as a transfer QB at Ferris State, now making plays for the Atlanta Falcons against Sauce Gardner? The guy who didn’t give up a touchdown in his entire career at Cincinnati? There’s no need at this point to overreact, but these are nuggets worth filing away as the preseason continues to progress.