Atlanta Falcons: What can we expect from Justin Hardy?
Everyone around the NFL knows how good the Atlanta Falcons are at throwing the football. Atlanta has had one of the best receiving corps in the league for several years now, and 2015 will be no different. However, 2015 will feature several new faces on offense, especially when it comes to catching the ball.
The Falcons revamped their receiving corps in the offseason by adding wide receiver Leonard Hankerson and tight end Jacob Tamme. Atlanta also added wide receiver Justin Hardy in the draft and will now have three solid targets to pair with Julio Jones and Roddy White.
As you all know, the Falcons decided to cut veteran slot receiver, Harry Douglas in the offseason which left a lot of people wondering what the team was going to do in order to replace him. And after the draft, we all knew what the plan was going to be. Hardy will most likely step into Douglas’ roll in 2015 and be just as good, if not better than Douglas ever was for the Falcons.
If you’re a big college football fan then odds are you heard about Hardy’s record-breaking performance while at East Carolina. Hardy set the record for most receptions in NCAA DI history including 121 receptions in 2014 to go along with 1,494 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The differences between Douglas and Hardy are quite obvious when you take a close look. Douglas relied on a finesse style of play to get open while Hardy has the ability to bang with corners and use his strength to muscle defenders out-of-the-way. Hardy is also not limited while in the red zone. He has the ability to make plays and get open near the end zone while Douglas struggled to do so in his six seasons with the Falcons.
At this point in time, Hardy is the projected starter in the slot and should be the third option behind Jones and White. At times you could see Hardy lineup outside and Jones inside to confuse the defense, but Hardy will be the predominant middle of the field guy rather than an over the top guy.
It isn’t fair to compare Hardy to Douglas, but until we see how he handles himself as an NFL wide receiver, he will continue to get that comparison. Hardy brings a lot more to the table than Douglas did which makes for an exciting 2015 and beyond for Hardy and the Falcons.
You can expect Hardy to haul in receptions when needed and should find the end zone a lot more often than Douglas ever did. Hardy could be the Falcons’ secret weapon in the red zone which will help set up guys like Jones, White and Hankerson for more opportunities as well.