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Receiver no longer an issue for Falcons


Lowndesfalc
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Receiver no longer an issue for Falcons

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In the weeks leading up to the kickoff the 2008 NFL Season, I’ll take a look at position groups that could potentially lift teams to new heights, or bury them and their postseason hopes. Today I take a look at how the Atlanta Falcons built their receiving corps through the draft.

Before Michael Vick traded in his football uniform for penitentiary garb, pundits loved to state on a yearly basis how the Atlanta Falcons needed better weapons for Vick to throw to.

Those pundits don’t have to worry about the Falcons not supplying No. 3 overall pick Matt Ryan with enough weapons, because the receiving corps is now arguably the strength of Atlanta’s offense. (Although a running game that now features Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood isn’t too shabby either.)

In his first two years with the Falcons, Roddy White was developing into surefire first round bust with every pass he let drop through his fingertips. But after hauling in 83 receptions for 1,202 yards and six touchdowns in 2007, White proved that he could be a capable No. 1 receiver in the NFL. He not only has the size and quickness to create separation from defenders, but he also attacks the ball in the air and has demonstrated supreme confidence (two things he lacked in his first two seasons). Even with the rookie Ryan or Chris Redman starting, many expect White to at least match his production from last season.

Joining White is former 2007 third round pick Laurent Robinson. Even though an injury has sidetracked his progress, the former Iowa State star has received rave reviews this summer and flashed potential in the final games of the 2007 season. Like White, Robinson has excellent speed and quickness, and can create plays in space. He’s expected to start once he’s healthy and playing opposite White might net him plenty of opportunities to make plays.

While he’s been a bit of a disappointment thus far in his career, former first rounder Michael Jenkins gives the Falcons a nice, big target in the red zone. Rookie third round pick Harry Douglas has also been incredibly impressive in camp and thus far in preseason, while Brian Finneran gives Atlanta a sure handed veteran if he can bounce back from having two knee surgeries the past two years. (The Falcons also have Joe Horn on their roster, although he’s likely to be traded or cut given how he’s expressed that he wants out of Atlanta.)

Granted, the Falcons offense is expected to struggle behind a rookie starter in Ryan and a suspect offensive line. And while there are high expectations for Robinson and Douglas, it might take a season or two for them to fully develop. Still, no longer is wide receiver a pressing issue in Atlanta.

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