Every season, teams have players who disappoint and players who show up unexpectedly to play a big role in a successful season. Unfortunate for some teams, more players disappoint than show up, and fortunate teams have more players that show up than disappoint. What about the Falcons?
I can’t predict that every player will live up to expectations, or even that Atlanta starts the season with every player uninjured. But who will most likely be the showers and the slowers? These are my picks as to who those players may be
The Break Down
Robert Alford was the second pick in the draft and brought the question “Who?” to many fan’s thoughts when he was picked so highly. Especially after passing up a pretty good pass rusher to do so. He comes into training camp with high expectations and it may be hard to meet them in his situation. Don’t get me wrong, I do think he will pan out, but as a corner, he has too much competition. Trufant is the obvious answer along with Asante Samuel, while Robert McClain did way too good of a job in the nickel to lose his job to a rookie. I believe he will get some playing time, but he may not make a real big impression on the defense at all while only getting in on rare situations or if an injury occurs.
He wasn’t drafted to only be a corner, after all. He will most likely take the position as punt and kick returner. I think he will definitely be better than what was there, but he may not do enough to warrant a second round pick. You can’t expect a guy to return several touchdowns. If he does, I will gladly eat my words. In the NFL, it’s a lot harder to do than in a small college.
I really wanted to say Stephens Nicholas here. He got unfairly blamed for poor coverage of the tight ends in the championship games. Many fans wanted his replacement in the draft. However, there were not very many tacklers that were surer than Nicholas. He takes on the strong side and doesn’t make the party stats like interception or sacks, but he is one of the best run stuffers on the defense and led the team in tackles. I wanted dearly to say he’ll come out as one of the unexpected leaders on defense, but no, I think someone else pops into our hearts.
Chase Coffman is, as of right now, the second tight end on the depth chart. I may not be the first guy on the Coffman bandwagon, but I think it’ll pick up many more fans. Physically, he looks very similar to Tony Gonzalez and everyone who saw that awesome catch against Seattle would say it looked like Tony Also. But a single good catch can’t make a great player. It can, however, draw attention. That may be all he needed from the coaches along with some time as the number one TE while Gonzalez is out. He is looking brilliant at the mandatory camps and showing himself off as a good blocker as well as a great pass catcher. This may open many doors to him that previously were hidden. Should he prove to be a great asset, Dirk Koetter may enjoy using him in two tight end offenses (an idea that sprung up while crazy analysts projected Tyler Eifert to go to Atlanta after Gonzalez announced his return because they were too lazy to change their picks) After all, what could be more deadly than giving Matt Ryan (Who may have raised some flags with the department of homeland security with use of WMDs) yet another weapon? This unquestionably makes Koetter and Dimitroff, by definition, arms dealers. Imagine a situation with Matt Ryan at shotgun while Julio, Roddy, Gonzalez, Coffman, and Jackson are all out looking for a catch. What would the opposing defense do? What could they do?
This may even be a great thing for years to come. With a developing Toilolo, the Falcons may be able to use two tight end splits even after Gonzo retires.
Who are the break outs and break downs on your list?