The Atlanta Falcons are one of the few teams in the NFL with limited needs and a ton of young talent, assuming everyone comes back healthy from their injuries.
There are a few Falcons that don’t generate the type of buzz that Matt Ryan, Julio Jones or Deion Jones gather, and for good reason. Those guys are elite at their position, these guys are the unsung heroes that can contribute this upcoming year. I am by no means suggesting super-stardom or elite play from these guys but I think Atlanta does have a few players on each side of the ball that can become effective contributors.
I thought about putting Brian Hill in here because of what he showed late last year, but decided to go with Russell Gage. Gage is going into his sophomore campaign as the fourth wide receiver on the depth chart as it stands today. I wouldn’t be shocked if the team either resigned Justin Hardy or moved on; I can make a case for both scenarios.
Gage has shown, in very, very minimal doses this year that he can go up and make some tough catches. I think if given the chance, Gage can provide a reliable target for Ryan on occasion and has proven to be a valuable young piece as a gunner for the special teams units. He won’t be a game changer but the opportunity is there for the taking to grasp a hold of the 4th/5th WR job and one of the two starting gunners.
On the defensive side of the ball, Deadrin Senat comes immediately to mind as guy who can really take a leap in year two and become a significant part of the defensive line rotation. Senat performed well next to Grady Jarrett in his rookie season. He provided added run support and fit in admirably in the rotation with Jarrett, Jack Crawford and Terrell McClain in the interior.
Deadrin, despite not logging a single sack, did end up taking the snaps away from veteran Terrell McClain and when he was inactive for the Thanksgiving game in New Orleans, Falcons fans demanded to know why, Quinn later saying “they wanted more pass rushers.”
I think that Senat will be here for the long haul alongside Grady when all is said and done. He has a high motor and is motivated by his off-the-field past to become a long-tenured player in the NFL. Quinn loves guys like Senat, making it clearer that his contributions to the 2019 Atlanta Falcons will be significant.
These two guys will likely be included in the next phase of guys coach Quinn will be looking to take the next step.
Let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments below!