1. Ricardo Allen
Safety Ricardo Allen was a much maligned figure throughout the 2016 season by a majority of the fan base. But in reality, people just wanted a scapegoat to blame for the defense’s failures.
News flash: Ricardo Allen was not the culprit of the Falcons defense. Instead, having four rookie starters and a porous defensive line rightfully deserve the blame.
With a full season for the rookies to mature and upgrades along the defensive line, the play of the Falcons’ free safety can now be fairly judged. If Allen continues his strong play, the front office will have another difficult contract decision to mull over.
2. De’Vondre Campbell
A couple things of note on linebacker De’Vondre Campbell.
He played the entire 2016 season with poor eye sight, which would explain his difficulty diagnosing plays at times. Campbell has since gotten his vision corrected with LASIK surgery during the offseason.
Secondly, the coaching staff is bumping Dre to strong side linebacker where he is better suited to excel. There, he’ll be able to use his length and pass rush skills to be a constant disruptor, while still maintaining his role as the team’s tight end eraser in coverage.
Campbell is yet another example of a second year player expected to take a major leap forward in 2017.