Falcons’ Feleipe Franks growing more comfortable at tight end

Falcons quarterback / tight end Feleipe Franks (15) eludes defensive back Tre Webb during training camp Tuesday in Flowery Branch. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

Falcons quarterback / tight end Feleipe Franks (15) eludes defensive back Tre Webb during training camp Tuesday in Flowery Branch. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

FLOWERY BRANCH — Feleipe Franks didn’t push back at all when the Falcons asked him to switch from quarterback to tight end.

“It’s really just whatever they asked me to do because I was on special teams a little bit as well,” Franks said. “A little bit of quarterback still. But mainly tight end. A little bit of everything. Whatever you want to call it.”

Franks ended last season as the backup quarterback to Matt Ryan. Over the offseason, after the team traded Ryan, signed Marcus Mariota and drafted Desmond Ridder, coach Arthur Smith wanted to give Franks a chance to make the team.

“I don’t think ever,” Franks said when asked if he played another position before. “I was always a quarterback in peewee, middle school, high school and college until I got here.”

Franks played at Florida and Arkansas. He was signed by the Falcons after the 2021 draft as an undrafted free agent.

Thus far in training camp, Franks has not looked out of place. He’s made some nice catches in the back of the end zone during the red-zone periods.

In the 11-on-11 session Wednesday, he got open in the right flat, but he couldn’t get his hands on a high-and-hot pass.

“He’s been a quarterback at a high level,” Smith said. “Played in the SEC at two schools. Had some snaps last year. He continues to want to improve, to find a spot to help this team, and I appreciate it.”

The project appears to be coming along nicely.

“(Tight ends coach) Justin Peelle is a helluva coach,” Smith said. “Feleipe comes out there and continues to work. He’s got a feel for it.”

Franks spent some time over the offseason with his older brother, Jordan Franks, who’s a tight end with the Chiefs. The elder Franks went to Central Florida and has played with the Bengals and Browns.

“He’s really always just been the person in my ear really pushing me to just be the best all-around athlete that I could be,” Franks said. “Whether I was playing quarterback or not playing quarterback. It didn’t matter just (that I) was pushing myself in every aspect of my life. Not just football, either. So that’s somebody I lean on.”

Jordan Franks has been a good teacher.

“Feleipe comes out there and continues to work. He's got a feel for it."

- Falcons coach Arthur Smith, on Feleipe Franks' switch to tight end

“We were like this offseason just studying the run game,” Feleipe Franks said. “That’s something I had trouble with. Just being like honest.”

There was no blocking involved when Franks was playing quarterback.

“When you get out there as a tight end and you actually have got to do it,” Franks said. “So that’s something that he helped me out a lot with this offseason and really understanding the run game and kind of how to go about (blocking).”

Franks found that there was more to blocking than just running into people. He actually had to learn how to take his steps and then use his hands.

He and his brother worked on the fields around Cincinnati and would watch film together.

“He’s a really good blocker, really good player,” Feleipe Franks said of Jordan. “I just watched him and like how he goes about his work and how he really just does his business on the field. He’s a good person to watch and learn from.”

Peelle said that if Franks is to make the conversion that it would be up to the player.

Franks started from scratch. He had to learn how to get into a three-point stance. After that, he progressed to route-running and then to bringing the energy in the huddle.

“Some of those guys have been in there blocking a lot,” Franks said of the Falcons’ tight ends. “I’m learning blocking from them and Kyle (Pitts) as well. It’s been fine. I’m just learning from everybody.”

Franks has never caught a touchdown pass in a game.

“That’d be cool,” Franks said. “I mean, I know that’s far-fetched. There’s a lot of work to get done. You know, I’m just really getting the basics down. It’s something I’ve been focusing on like really the whole camp.”

The Falcons still plan to have Franks get some emergency work at quarterback.

His old full-time position has been helpful during this conversion.

“That’s something that’s been like super on my side I would say going into the tight ends (meeting) room,” Franks said. “I know concepts. I know how Coach wants them run. I’m not saying that I do it perfectly every time, but at the same time I have an idea, a general idea of what I want to do out there.”

No one is certain if Franks, who’s bulked up to 237 pounds, can make the transition, but he’s off to a good start.

“He’s doing a good job with it,” Peelle said. “The kid works hard. He’s very attentive, and he asks the right questions.”

Falcons quarterback / tight end Feleipe Franks reacts after making a catch during training camp Tuesday in Flowery Branch. (Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com)

Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

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Credit: Jason Getz / Jason.Getz@ajc.com

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