After being among the last cuts by the Arizona Cardinals, Ryan Becker could have quit on his NFL dream of playing tight end when he returned to Texas in early September.
Instead, the 2016 Marble Falls High School graduate went back to work.
On April 13, Becker’s commitment paid off when he signed a one-year contract with the Atlanta Falcons.
“I talked to the Falcons a bunch last year, but that was a different staff,” he said at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 14, minutes after returning to Texas. “This is the one I wanted to work out, and it did. They put me through a physical and workout, and they signed me.”
The 6-foot 5-inch, 255-pound tight end was preparing for a virtual training camp with the Falcons that starts April 19 under new head coach Arthur Smith, the former offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans. The Falcons’ tight ends coach is Justin Peelle.
Becker noted the Titans were second in the league in rushing, averaging 168.1 yards per game. Becker is used to being part of an offense that runs first.
“It’s a better fit,” he said. “I was a blocking tight end at SMU.”
Becker, who graduated from Southern Methodist University in Dallas in 2019 with a degree in sports management, spent the past several months training at G10 Academy in Austin. The facility was started by David Granson, who spent the summers of 2012 and 2013 as the strength-and-conditioning coach for Marble Falls High School.
During the fall of 2020, Becker said he trained for about 90 minutes daily, five days a week, but that changed when Kylen Granson, David’s son and Becker’s former SMU teammate, returned to Austin to train for the Mustangs’ Pro Day in Dallas.
They spent about seven hours a day at the facility, six days a week.
“I got stronger and bigger and faster,” Becker said.
By the time the SMU Pro Day happened three weeks ago, Becker was in tip-top shape. He clocked 4.74 seconds in the 40-yard dash, had 27 repetitions of the 225-pound bench press, recorded a 34.5-inch vertical leap, and marked a 9-foot-10-inch broad jump.
As a result, eight teams expressed an interest in signing the former Mustang.
“They got to see me run,” he said. “I looked good.”
On April 9, the Falcons contacted Becker’s agent wanting to fly him to Atlanta for a closer look. He finally got there at 12:30 a.m. April 13, slept, and then headed to the training facility.
After the workout and physical, Becker signed his contract. Currently, the Falcons have a fullback and three other tight ends. Becker’s speciality is blocking, though he can be used as a receiving tight end, too.
“I can kind of do everything,” he said. “I can deep snap for them also. There’s a lot of different things I can do. I have a lot of upside. That’s why they decided to bring me in.”
Though he was released by the Cardinals, he left Arizona convinced he could play in the NFL.
“I played with those guys for a month and a half,” he said. “I left believing I’m good enough, I can do this. I knew I needed another chance. It feels right. I’m back.”