Last year's eighth overall pick will be one of the featured players to watch as the Falcons begin their three-day, mandatory minicamp Tuesday -- a camp open to the public. No, you won't see Beasley take a quarterback to the ground, but there are other aspects to watch in analyzing if he's ready to elevate his game.
Specifically, it will be interesting to see how Beasley uses his hands to go with his tremendous speed. Defensive coordinator Richard Smith broke down all of Beasley's rushes from last season alongside him and made one major point of emphasis.
"We're working on his rush moves in terms of really getting better with the use of his hands," Smith said. "This year, we've been working hard with it in critiquing every day every rep. We're making sure he sees it the same way we see it. And I think it's going to be helpful. I really do."
There were some whispers that Beasley couldn't use his hands as effectively last year while battling a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Beasley, who did not have surgery on the shoulder, said that wasn't a factor and that he feels healthy now.
The Falcons insist moving Beasley to the Sam linebacker role and giving him the coverage responsibilities that come with it won't take away from his main duty: getting after the quarterback.
Here are five other players to watch as minicamp gets going:
Derrick Shelby, defensive lineman: When asked which player looked to be the team's best interior pass-rusher at this point, Smith immediately named Shelby, the former Miami Dolphin acquired in the offseason. Since Shelby plays on the interior, he didn't exactly jump out at you during organized team activities. But he sure has the coaches' attention. "I've been impressed with Shelby," Smith said. "He's a very versatile player. He can play the five-technique; he can play inside as a three-technique. He's got some ability. He's good against the run. I think he's got really good ankle flexion. I like his demeanor right now. He's been pretty impressive."
Austin Hooper, tight end: Hooper, the rookie third-round draft pick from Stanford, wasn't allowed to attend OTAs since final exams at his school were not completed by May 9. Although Hooper attended rookie minicamp and reviewed film with tight ends coach Wade Harman over the phone, he still missed a significant amount of practice time. As Hooper rejoins his teammates for minicamp, it will be interesting to see how quickly he can adjust to the offense, and how many reps he gets, period. The coaches raved about Hooper's ability to go up and get the ball, so we'll see if that's evident from the jump.
Akeem King, cornerback: The former seventh-round pick showed flashes in limited playing time last season. With Jalen Collins suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances, King has a legitimate chance to earn the nod as the third corner behind Pro Bowler Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford. During OTAs, Alford saw plenty of reps as the nickel slot guy as King and Collins worked on the corners. And don't dismiss DeMarcus Van Dyke or converted receiver C.J. Goodwin in that third cornerback competition. Goodwin has really impressed and, at 6-3, has the size coach Dan Quinn likes at the position.
De'Vondre Campbell, linebacker: Although everyone is focused on when second-round pick Deion Jones will surpass Paul Worrilow as the starting middle linebacker, fourth-round pick Campbell has steadily improved and gotten extensive first-team reps as the Will linebacker. In fact, Worrilow himself applauded Campbell for the speed and length he displays in regard to getting out and covering tight ends. Let's see if Campbell's football instincts show up during minicamp. That was one of the primary question marks for him coming out of Minnesota.
Jake Matthews, left tackle: There hasn't been a lot of talk about the former first-round pick this offseason, with so much attention devoted to the addition of three-time Pro Bowl center Alex Mack. However, this is an important year for Matthews to show he is the left tackle of the future. The coaches say he's looked "great" thus far, but the true measure will come when Matthews and his teammates put the pads on regularly at training camp. Some have wondered if right tackle Ryan Schraeder might be better suited on the left side, or if Matthews might be better off as a guard. Whatever the case, Matthews has to go out and perform at a high level and show he's not just some average player. He was drafted high to be a force.