Without a doubt the Atlanta Falcons secondary will be weak link on a team with Super Bowl aspirations. This season they will be tested by some of the best wide receivers in the game.
Earlier this week, Blogging Dirty told you who the five best quarterbacks the Atlanta Falcons would face, but what about the guys catching the balls?
Everyone knows that the weakest link on this Falcons squad is the secondary for a few reasons. Sure, the pass rush needs work, but the secondary will have a lot of new faces as well as vets that have a lot to prove.
When looking through the 2019 schedule, here are the top five receivers that the Falcons will face.
1. DeAndre “Nuk” Hopkins – Houston Texans
There are still a lot of people sleeping on Nuk. Despite starting his career with quarterbacks like Tom Savage, Case Keenum, Brian Hoyer, T.J. Yates and Brock Osweiler, Hopkins has been among the elite during his six years in the NFL.
Hopkins has had at least 1200 yards receiving in four of his six seasons and in 2018 he recorded a whopping 115 catches without a single drop. Julio Jones is the best receiver in the league, but Hopkins is 1B and will give the Falcons secondary all they can handle.
2. Michael Thomas – New Orleans Saints
This will be wildly unpopular as many in the Falcons fan base find Thomas to be overrated and I get it, he isn’t on the level that Julio and Hopkins regardless of what regular season numbers he puts up. However, he gets open a lot and Drew Brees finds him.
During his three-year career, Thomas has faced the Falcons six times. In those six meetings, he has recorded 577 yards and three touchdowns. Facing a secondary with the questions that Atlanta have could lead to a field day for the Saints top receiver.
3. Adam Thielen – Minnesota Vikings
The quietest elite receiver in the NFL. Adam Thielen embodies what it means to find a way. A kid not recruited out of high school and walks on to a Division II program, becomes an DII All-American. Not invited to the combine or drafted yet took the open workout that the Vikings provided and used that as his vehicle to become one of the best receivers in the game. His story will be made into a movie one day.
Over the last two seasons, Thielen has recorded more than 2600 yards and 13 touchdowns. In 2018, he was a favorite target of Vikings new QB Kirk Cousins and expect that to continue with another off-season together.
4. T.Y. Hilton – Indianapolis Colts
Nobody was happier to get Andrew Luck back more than Hilton. Both were drafted by the Colts in 2012 and looked to be this decade’s version of Manning and Harrison. Hilton led the NFL in receiving in 2016 but dropped below the 1000-yard mark in 2017 when Luck was out rehabbing. They teamed back up in 2018 for nearly 1300 yards and six touchdowns.
Expect these two to have a spectacular 2019 and the Falcons secondary could have their hands full when these two teams meet on September 22nd.
5. Mike Evans – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Another receiver that the Falcons are aware of. What has hurt Evans his entire career is sub-par QB play. Like the previously mentioned DeAndre Hopkins, Evans has shined despite the QB play. During Evans five-year career, he has never not had at least 1000 yards receiving, though he has struggled at times to get into the endzone.
Evans has faced the Falcons 10 times in his career and has logged 856 yards and eight touchdowns in those games.
Desmond Trufant, Isaiah Oliver, Kendall Sheffield and Demontae Kaazee will have their hands full in 2019. Their play early in the schedule will set the tone for the rest of the season. As we all know, an improved pass rush will also help these guys out tremendously.