Every team has one or two players who are thought to have an immediate impact after being drafted. In reality, it is a developmental process and can take until year three or four before they hit full stride. Last week, I looked at the defensive players who could be primed for their break out. Fortunately for the Falcons, they also have lots of young talent on offense entering those prime years. The Falcons are ready to rejuvenate that explosive offense that we all remember from 2016. Here are three players who look ready to take that next step in 2018.
Coleman, who is often overlooked and undervalued by many including my colleague, has been one of Atlanta’s biggest weapons. Coleman has shown his abilities by catching the ball out of the backfield and splitting out wide as a receiver. This is a player who has averaged 4.3 yards per carry and has totaled 14 rushing touchdowns in his career. He has shown his capabilities of being more than just a backup running back in the NFL. In games that starting running back Devonta Freeman has missed, Coleman has stepped up in a big way. After meeting with the media at OTA’s, Coleman explained the team wants to use him more. If the new wrinkles actually come to fruition, expect to see Coleman have the best season of his young career.
Stat Predictions: 180 Carries, 800 Yards, 8 Touchdowns, 40 Receptions, 500 Yards, 4 Touchdowns
This is truly a make or break year for the third year tight end. Many expected a big leap from Hooper last season, and it never came to fruition. I wouldn’t peg Hooper as a disappointment, but the Falcons have failed to yield an elite tight end since Tony Gonzalez. Matt Ryan has relied heavily on his tight ends throughout his career, and this season won’t be any different. Early in the offseason Ryan and Hooper had the opportunity to get some quality work in together. Hooper did improve from year one to year two, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him elevate to a Pro Bowl tight end in year three.
Stat Predictions: 75 Receptions, 800 Yards, 6 Touchdowns
Ridley, 23, is already poised for one hell of a rookie campaign. Quarterback Matt Ryan said that Ridley gets in and out of breaks better than anyone he has ever been around. Ryan has expressed how detailed and focused Ridley is and explained how well coached Ridley was at Alabama. On draft night, Ridley was considered old; however, his age may be one of the biggest advantages to adding him on the team. Ridley’s transition to the NFL may be seamless because of his experiences at Alabama and having connections with offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. Ridley could come in on day one and make an immediate impact, Rookie of the year isn’t an unlikely feat.
Stat Predictions: 65 Receptions, 820 Yards, 5 Touchdowns
The Falcons have endless talent on offense, the key is going to be schematically with Steve Sarkisian. The offense could easily be ranked in the top 10 in the NFL, and with a top 10 defense returning the Falcons could be more dangerous than ever. 2016 was a spectacular year for the Falcons but they never had the defensive unit to complement the offense. This year, the Falcons have the full package and have a legit shot of making another run at the Super Bowl.