Atlanta Falcons found a secret weapon in Jaeden Graham
Austin Hooper’s knee injury has given Jaeden Graham an opportunity to show the Atlanta Falcons what he can do when on the field.
When Hooper went down in the Atlanta Falcons victory over the New Orleans Saints, the team knew they were losing a big part of their offensive game plan. His injury has opened the doors for Graham, as well as Luke Stocker.
Stocker has not performed well at all, but Jaeden Graham has. He has shown that he can be a viable option behind Austin Hooper when called upon.
Against the Carolina Panthers, Graham caught two passes for 23 yards. Sure, these numbers aren’t mind-blowing or anything, but they both went for first downs that helped to keep both drives alive.
In Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Graham caught a 53-yard pass that helped the Atlanta Falcons score on their first drive of the game. It was almost as if the defenders didn’t even know he was on the field. This is something that the Falcons can use to their advantage. The lack of name recognition could make it easy for him to get open often.
Graham’s size is another positive. He is basically the same size as Hooper. Graham is 6’4, 250 and Hooper is 6’4, 254. Graham also showed off his speed on the 53-yard reception. His size and athleticism are two huge positives that could get him more play time down the road.
Again, he doesn’t have mind-blowing stats or anything, but all of his receptions have been important catches that went for first downs and kept drives going. He does what is needed when asked and knows where he needs to be. This is what great tight ends do and, so far, Graham has done his job effectively.
As he gets more playtime and catches more passes, he will only gain more confidence. With that confidence, he will become better and the opportunities will continue to come. His receptions so far have been confidence-boosting ones that could end up putting him into the starting line-up while Hooper is out.
If he continues to play well, Matt Ryan and Dirk Koetter will implement him into the offense more. If that happens, the Atlanta Falcons could be looking at a dynamic duo at the tight end position when Hooper gets back in the line-up.