- Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Atlanta Falcons should get a better idea about their nine drafted rookies when they join the veterans for organized team activities next week.
Team owner Arthur Blank is impressed with what he's seen of the draftees so far, but he also tempered his enthusiasm a bit.
"Saw the kids last Saturday and they all looked great," Blank said. "They looked like Pro Bowl players to me, but it's a little bit early. But we're excited about where the team is right now and looking forward to camp and getting to work as soon as we can."
Blank attended the introductory news conference for first-round draft pick Jake Matthews and praised the new right tackle's ability and bloodlines. This week, Blank talked about second-round pick Ra'Shede Hageman, the defensive end out of Minnesota.
"He's a big man," Blank said. "He's a big, strong guy. Tremendously explosive. Very impressive, physically. A lot of the (rookies) that I saw, I liked a lot. But you know, they're running around without pads right now. You have to take it all with a little bit of a grain of salt.
"This is my 13th year as an owner and I've seen players that looked great running around in shorts and T-Shirts and put pads on them, they don't look quite the same. On the other hand, I've seen guys that don't look quite the same running around in shorts and T-Shirts but put the pads on and they look like football players. You've got to give it time and patience; give these guys a chance to be coached and to show what they're capable of doing."
The Falcons have signed or agreed to terms with eight of their nine draft picks, including a four-year, fully guaranteed $16,434,500 deal for Matthews.
Third-round pick Dez Southward, the safety from Wisconsin, is the only draftee without a contract.