Rookie Tyler Starr a hair above the rest

Not one day of Atlanta Falcons rookie minicamp went by without Tyler Starr being noticed on the football field.

The outside linebacker and seventh-round pick from South Dakota played with high energy throughout the three sessions. And the fact his long blonde hair flopped around outside his helmet only made him much more visible.

"Well, he's a very energetic player," coach Mike Smith said of Starr. "He has the look of a very free-spirited guy. But that's not necessarily what it is. He's very focused. And I like his work ethic. I think he has the ability to rush off the edge. I think he also has the ability to be a guy that we can drop into coverage and ask to play man to man. And those are the type of guys we're trying to add to our defense."

Starr, who is is 6-foot-5 and weighs 250 pounds, has a quick first step and plays with some power. He even beat first-round pick Jake Matthews around the edge on Sunday while showing a burst not typical of a late-round pick.

The scratches on Starr's neck where indicative of how fierce and relentless a competitor he can be.

"Just coming in, the first thing was to adjust to the facilities," Starr said. "You're in a new place, new league. Just to come out here, the first thing was to learn that playbook as fast as possible so I could play fast. That's really important here. Mental errors aren't allowed in this game, especially when you're trying to earn a spot. But the mental has to be 100 percent. They'll take a physical error here and there or a technique error here or there. But, you've got to know that playbook."

Starr often rushed out of a four-point stance, something he said he altered in his game upon arriving in Atlanta. If rookie minicamp was a glimpse of his true talent, then Starr could be an immediately contributor to a team in desperate need of a pass rush. He and fellow rookie Prince Shembo are a pair of outside linebackers the Falcons could count on heavily in terms of pressuring opposing quarterbacks.

"I think the most important part is that I've got a chance to show this team what I can do and hopefully, bust my butt so I can make this team," said Starr, who signed a four-year contract Sunday that included a $45,896 signing bonus and $2.2 million in base salaries. "At the end of the day, I want to be playing football for as long as I possibly can."

His next chance to make an impression will come a week from Tuesday, when the Falcons begin organized team activities.