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Vaughn Mcclure Assesses Which Rookies On The Falcons Could Earn A Starting Berth This Season


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NFL Nation reporter Vaughn McClure assesses which rookies on the Falcons could earn a starting berth this season.

Why Vic Beasley could start:

Beasley was the eighth overall pick in the draft, so he's supposed to be a major contributor based on draft status alone. He's already displayed his outstanding speed off the edge as well as his overall athleticism. However, there is one obstacle Beasley needs to overcome before becoming a fixture in the lineup. Beasley knows there's some questions about his ability to stop the run. He's powerful enough to be a solid run defender. Now, he just has to go do it. But first and foremost, Beasley has to be the type of dominant pass-rusher the Falcons expect him to be. The Falcons have been one of the worst teams pressuring the quarterback in recent years, recording a league-low 83 sacks over the past three seasons. Beasley said he plans to reach double-digit sacks as a rookie. The Falcons will need such production from him as he settles into the Leo hybrid position ahead of veteran Kroy Biermann. Count on Beasley seeing the field plenty, particularly with the sub package being the norm these days.

Why Jalen Collins could start:

The Falcons know they got a first-round talent in Collins, who fell to the second round most likely as a result of his admission to multiple failed marijuana tests at LSU. But the 6-foot-1, 203-pound Collins is the long, rangy-type corner that Falcons coach Dan Quinn desires in his aggressive, attacking defensive scheme. So it wouldn't be a surprise to see Collins settle into a starting role at one corner opposite Desmond Trufant, with Robert Alford possibly seeing more time covering the slot. But with Alford playing exceptionally well outside right now, Collins might have to earn it covering inside, first. Essentially, the Falcons will have three starting corners throughout the season. With all due respect to Alford and his ability, Collins' size should be beneficial against some of the big receivers in the NFC South such as Mike Evans, Kelvin Benjamin, Vincent Jackson and Marques Colston. No one had any doubts about Collins' ability to be solid as a tough, press corner. The biggest question surrounding him is his health following pre-draft foot surgery. Obviously, the Falcons felt comfortable enough with the timetable for Collins' recovery. In fact, Collins looked rather solid in coverage as he slowly saw his workload increased during mandatory minicamp although he was a little tentative.

Why Tevin Coleman should start:

Coleman made clear his intentions to be the starting running back from the day he was drafted. And there's plenty of reason for him to come in with a swagger. He rushed for more than 2,000 yards at Indiana last season and enjoyed success against some formidable foes such as Ohio State (228 rushing yards, three touchdowns) and Michigan State (132 rushing yards). But Coleman has stiff competition in second-year player Devonta Freeman, who also plans to start. Based on the offseason, both players are more than capable of having success in Kyle Shanahan's outside zone-blocking scheme. Freeman has the edge now based on his unique ability to catch and run routes like a receiver. Coleman, who suffered a mild groin strain at the end of minicamp, is a capable pass-catcher too, although it's not an aspect he was called upon for often in college. A strong two-back system will be a healthy transition for a team striving for offensive balance. If Coleman consistently shows the ability to break off big plays like he did in college -- he was among the national leaders in plays of 20 (19), 30 (16), 40 (13), 50 (9), 60 (8) and 70 (4) yards -- he'll be hard to keep off the field. Again, the Falcons need to establish more of a running game after finishing 24th in rushing last season at just 93.6 yards per game.

http://espn.go.com/blog/nflnation/post/_/id/170754/vic-beasley-jalen-collins-tevin-coleman-could-start-for-atlanta-falcons

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Allen is not a rookie.

Beasley has the best chance talent/NFL ready wise. He need only set the edge it would seem. Could be more valuable on 3rd down with a full head of steam.

Collins may be the most likely as a better fit than his primary competition for RCB. He is hurt by late start due to recovery from foot surgery. I am willing to bet he gets up to speed and inserted into the base defense before Beasley.

Coleman has the best opportunity as probably the most talented player on the roster at his position. Further aided by being the best fit as well, he could be the first to be inserted into the starting line up on either side of the ball. He has strong competition(Freeman) and plays a position commonly ran by committee in todays NFL against him.

Regardless of who achieves starter status first, all three are very strong candidates to accomplish #1 on the depth chart at some point during their rookie campaign. If I had to guess which, I would flip a coin between Coleman and Collins.

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Allen is not a rookie.

Beasley has the best chance talent/NFL ready wise. He need only set the edge it would seem. Could be more valuable on 3rd down with a full head of steam.

Collins may be the most likely as a better fit than his primary competition for RCB. He is hurt by late start due to recovery from foot surgery. I am willing to bet he gets up to speed and inserted into the base defense before Beasley.

Coleman has the best opportunity as probably the most talented player on the roster at his position. Further aided by being the best fit as well, he could be the first to be inserted into the starting line up on either side of the ball. He has strong competition(Freeman) and plays a position commonly ran by committee in todays NFL against him.

Regardless of who achieves starter status first, all three are very strong candidates to accomplish #1 on the depth chart at some point during their rookie campaign. If I had to guess which, I would flip a coin between Coleman and Collins.

What are you smoking "the most talented player on the roster at his position". Man did you go to Indiana? Julio Jones wins this statement all day long and twice on Sunday. Also you continue you to sell DF short like you have something against him.

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Allen is not a rookie.

Beasley has the best chance talent/NFL ready wise. He need only set the edge it would seem. Could be more valuable on 3rd down with a full head of steam.

Collins may be the most likely as a better fit than his primary competition for RCB. He is hurt by late start due to recovery from foot surgery. I am willing to bet he gets up to speed and inserted into the base defense before Beasley.

Coleman has the best opportunity as probably the most talented player on the roster at his position. Further aided by being the best fit as well, he could be the first to be inserted into the starting line up on either side of the ball. He has strong competition(Freeman) and plays a position commonly ran by committee in todays NFL against him.

Regardless of who achieves starter status first, all three are very strong candidates to accomplish #1 on the depth chart at some point during their rookie campaign. If I had to guess which, I would flip a coin between Coleman and Collins.

The best fit? Are you and NFL coordinator? You know squat. Your conjecture about Coleman is annoying.

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Another reporter telling us nothing new. McClure has all the infomation an inquiring Falcon's fan already knows, need to work a little harder buddy!

As far as the 2015 Falcons draft, I'm not going out on a limb by saying it is going to be the best class for at least he last decade. The 2006 and 2007 drafts were good ones too, but nothing close what we are going to see from this group. I will be very dissapointed if one of the top five picks does become a significant contributor. If King or Rogers or Mbu panned out, that would be really special.

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What are you smoking "the most talented player on the roster at his position". Man did you go to Indiana? Julio Jones wins this statement all day long and twice on Sunday. Also you continue you to sell DF short like you have something against him.

He means the most talented HB aka "his position"

Edited by Yo_Lover
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Evidently McClure does not view the starting slot receiver as a "starter". I think there is little doubt that Justin Hardy will replace HD as the starting slot WR.

Matt Ryan praises Falcons rookie wide receiver Justin Hardy

Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan made sure to mention rookie wide receiver Justin Hardy while talking about young players making strong impressions this offseason.

"Justin Hardy's done a great job," Ryan said. "He's really picked up things. And you can see him kind of every practice he goes out there, he gets a little more comfortable and he becomes a little more confident. That's going to bode well for us. His production for us this season is going to be important."

Hardy, a fourth-round draft pick out of East Carolina, has impressed with his hands from the moment he joined the team. He is best suited as a slot receiver yet has enough versatility to move outside. Plus Hardy has the reputation of being able to establish separation with his crafty route running.

Hardy, who set an NCAA record with 387 career receptions, got some extended reps with the first-team offense during Tuesday's first day of mandatory minicamp. Roddy White was sidelined with an undisclosed injury while Devin Hester was excused following a death in the family, meaning Hardy ran alongside Julio Jones and Leonard Hankerson. The Falcons lost one of their productive slot receivers when Harry Douglas, now with Tennessee, was released this offseason.

When told of Ryan's high praise, Hardy humbly expressed his appreciation.

"That's great," Hardy said. "It was kind of rough coming in from the start. You're trying to basically learn the plays, learn the system. But now it's just progress and you're trying to get better and better.

"That praise is great coming from a guy the stature that he is, the quarterback that he is and what he does for the community and for this team."

Hardy was asked where he felt most comfortable lining up.

"Whatever I can do to help the team," he said. "Anywhere. Outside, inside it doesn't matter."

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What are you smoking "the most talented player on the roster at his position". Man did you go to Indiana? Julio Jones wins this statement all day long and twice on Sunday. Also you continue you to sell DF short like you have something against him.

Your determined drive to win the coveted "Least Valuable Poster" award is in full swing, I see. Why would you mention Julio Jones in a discussion about Coleman being the most talented at his position? Did Julio Jones get moved to RB? Or is Coleman now a WR?

You should be ashamed.

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Evidently McClure does not view the starting slot receiver as a "starter". I think there is little doubt that Justin Hardy will replace HD as the starting slot WR.

Matt Ryan praises Falcons rookie wide receiver Justin Hardy

Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan made sure to mention rookie wide receiver Justin Hardy while talking about young players making strong impressions this offseason.

"Justin Hardy's done a great job," Ryan said. "He's really picked up things. And you can see him kind of every practice he goes out there, he gets a little more comfortable and he becomes a little more confident. That's going to bode well for us. His production for us this season is going to be important."

Hardy, a fourth-round draft pick out of East Carolina, has impressed with his hands from the moment he joined the team. He is best suited as a slot receiver yet has enough versatility to move outside. Plus Hardy has the reputation of being able to establish separation with his crafty route running.

Hardy, who set an NCAA record with 387 career receptions, got some extended reps with the first-team offense during Tuesday's first day of mandatory minicamp. Roddy White was sidelined with an undisclosed injury while Devin Hester was excused following a death in the family, meaning Hardy ran alongside Julio Jones and Leonard Hankerson. The Falcons lost one of their productive slot receivers when Harry Douglas, now with Tennessee, was released this offseason.

When told of Ryan's high praise, Hardy humbly expressed his appreciation.

"That's great," Hardy said. "It was kind of rough coming in from the start. You're trying to basically learn the plays, learn the system. But now it's just progress and you're trying to get better and better.

"That praise is great coming from a guy the stature that he is, the quarterback that he is and what he does for the community and for this team."

Hardy was asked where he felt most comfortable lining up.

"Whatever I can do to help the team," he said. "Anywhere. Outside, inside it doesn't matter."

This makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

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