We continue our “Falcons 50” countdown with a look at the Atlanta Falcons’ top five offensive weapons. Falcons football is just 41 days away. You can follow along with the full countdown here.
So far, I have highlighted the biggest offensive weapons on the Atlanta Falcons. Starting things off with the offensive line, which includes key members such as center Alex Mack and offensive tackles Jake Matthews and Ryan Schraeder.
I then focused on what Mohamed Sanu can bring to the offense as he was selected as the number four offensive weapon for the Falcons. A Pro Bowl season last year earned running back Devonta Freeman the honor of being the third biggest offensive weapon for Atlanta with quarterback Matt Ryan coming in at number two.
Which leaves us at number one. Try not to hurt your brain thinking of who is the biggest weapon for the Atlanta Falcons:
Atlanta Falcons top offensive weapon No. 1: Julio Jones
Entering season number sixth for the former receiver out of the University of Alabama, Jones has firmly planted himself at the top of the wide receiver chart. Many debate back and forth whether or not Jones or Steelers wideout Antonio Brown is the supreme receiver in the NFL. Last season was Jones’ best season to date.
Jones posted a career-high in receptions (136), yards (1,871), to go along with eight touchdowns. He topped the league in receiving yards, receiving yards per game (116.9), and receiving first downs (93), while also tying with Brown for the most catches in the league. Take a wild guess at who led the league in yards after the catch or aka YAC as some would call it. That’s right, Mr. Jones.
At 6-foot-4 220 pounds, Jones is a nightmare to line up across with a prototypical blend of size, speed, and athleticism. Ever since he was selected sixth overall in the 2011 NFL Draft, Jones has left a lasting imprint on the league.
Jones has been joined at the hip with Ryan since entering the league and interestingly, he will enter this 2016 season with the guidance of former Falcons receiver Roddy White. The leadership role as already been shined and polished over the years for Jones but now he enters this season as vet that every one will look upon even with added veteran faces such as Mack and Sanu.
In this year’s edition of the NFL Network’s Top 100 players in the league, Jones cracked the top-10 for the first time of his career with a ranking of number eight. A ranking that was too low in my opinion but that’s a different conversation for a different day.
The presence of Jones made Freeman’s 2015 season a little more easier as the elite receiver absorbed most of the attention from defenders. Credit goes to offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan devising ways to exploit match-ups by having Julio in the slot, in particular his two biggest touchdowns against Dallas and Carolina.
The talent and outstanding play of Julio can create opportunities for many even when doesn’t haul in passes. Creating one-on-one opportunities for Sanu and wide receiver Justin Hardy. Having a threat such as Julio Jones gives the Falcons one of the best weapons in the entire NFL.