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Setting Reasonable Expectations For Every Falcons Rookie


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Training camp will give us a better feel for the Falcons' 2015 rookie class, of course, but it's necessary to temper our expectations for a legitimately exciting rookie class.

It's a tough line to walk, because none of us want to downplay the potential impact of guys like Vic Beasley and Tevin Coleman, but we do have to acknowledge that it's exceedingly rare that your entire rookie class takes the league by storm and launches your team into the stratosphere. Ahead of the practices, preseason games and accompanying hype, let's take a look at what we might reasonably expect for each member of the class.

Vic Beasley

The team will take pains to utilize Beasley in an effective way, and they may limit his playing time on obvious running downs, given that it's his most significant weakness coming into his rookie year. Make no mistake, though: Beasley is going to play, and the success of the pass rush is going to be heavily dependent on his ability to get after the quarterback.

It's reasonable, I think, to expect Beasley to start 12-14 games (I'm overly cautious, sue me), and given his obvious talent I think 6-8 sacks are virtually a given. More important than the raw sack total, though, is his efficiency in rushing the passer and ability to disrupt plays, and Beasley has the potential to deliver in both areas without breaking a sweat. He's the obvious choice for team rookie of the year, a potential ROTY candidate in the NFL and should emerge as one of the best players on the team right away. I'm very bullish on Beasley, obviously, and I think it's reasonable to expect good things from him right off the bat.

Jalen Collins

He should be healthy enough to participate in camp, which is good news for both Collins and the team. His role is a little less certain.

Given his size, talent and draft status, Collins should be the favorite to start opposite Desmond Trufant in Week 1. It's worth noting, though, that Collins started just 10 games at LSU, has been dinged for a lack of technique and has the dreaded "doesn't track the ball well" label following him from college, so there's no guarantees he's going to be an impact cornerback on day one. He also has to hold off Robert Alford, a legitimately electric athlete who is coming into his third year in the league.

For all that, though, Collins is a potentially terrific fit for Dan Quinn's preferred press cover scheme, and he's a quality athlete and by all accounts an adaptable guy. Pencil him in for at least half of a starting season, a couple of picks, a couple of coverage hiccups and a few sterling plays along the way. He should be much better over the long haul than in his rookie season, but I like his chances of contributing for a defense that doesn't have the prototype press corner the coaching staff would love to have.

Tevin Coleman

He's a legitimate speed demon who can handle contact, and Kyle Shanahan and company clearly like his chances to contribute in the ground game. I think expecting Coleman to pick up 700-plus yards, 4-6 touchdowns and a couple dozen receptions is perfectly reasonable, and the only real question is whether he'll emerge into a full-time starter's role that allows him to do more than that. His yards per carry will help to tell the tale, as well as the health and effectiveness of the offensive line, given that Coleman's strength is finding a hole and taking off to the sounds of Chariots of Fire.

My gut says no. Devonta Freeman and Antone Smith will need touches, Freeman is the better blocker and pass catcher as it stands today, and Coleman will need to prove he can muscle his way through short yardage situations to stay on the field in scenarios where a powerful back is needed. Like Collins, his promise makes him an intriguing piece of the Falcons' future, but he's not likely to be a standout player managing 250 touches in year one.

Justin Hardy

Here's a legitimate hype candidate. Leonard Hankerson is going to be a useful receiver, Jacob Tamme is a step up at tight end and the Falcons have Julio Jones and Roddy White around, so there wouldn't seem to be a ton of receptions left for Hardy. Yet I do honestly believe that Hardy is going to have the kind of rookie season that turns heads.

Why? His willingness to fight over the middle, his sure hands and his crisp route running are all fairly unusual for a rookie fourth round receiver, and the team sorely needs reliable targets for Matt Ryan, particularly on short routes. There's a good chance that Hardy eats underneath as the slot receiver, in which case I think 50-plus receptions, 600-700 yards and 3-4 touchdowns are all reasonable expectations for the first-year receiver. Those numbers don't jump off the page at you, but given the crowded situation in the team's receiving corps, it would make for a fine season. If he's a more reliable option than Harry Douglas, which I think is within reach, it will both benefit the entire offense and earn Hardy some notice.

Grady Jarrett

He's the most likely candidate to disappoint for reasons entirely outside of his control. The Falcons aren't loaded up with great defensive tackles, but they have solid options across the board, and Jarrett will have to really impress early to earn significant snaps as part of the rotation. No one doubts his talent and he could be one of the most effective interior pass rushers on the team right away, but that may not be enough to get him more than a third down role.

Keep in mind that Jonathan Babineaux is still a reliable three down player, Ra'Shede Hageman looks poised for a breakout and Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson have a history of serving as effective run stoppers and you can see why Jarrett may get shoved aside in his first year. Jarrett won't be bench-bound, of course, but he may need an injury or Tyson Jackson release to get a real opportunity.

Look for Jarrett to make a real splash in 2016 and beyond, but he's likely a role player to a part-time starter this year.

Jake Rodgers

A true project, the athletic Rodgers could be at least a useful reserve lineman down the line, but he'll be lucky to make the final roster outright in 2015. The team's tackle situation is a little shaky and he could latch on as a game day inactive, but if he's on the field, something's gone horribly awry.

The practice squad is the most likely spot for Rodgers.

Akeem King

King offers you intriguing size and athleticism, and if he can learn on the job quickly, he's a candidate to be a valuable reserve cornerback or safety in the Falcons defense of the future. Like Rogers, though, he's a bit of a project and shouldn't be considered more than a deep reserve if he makes the roster.

UDFAs

The best you can expect for any of these players out of the gate is a practice squad spot and a chance to contribute if injuries or ineffectiveness strike Atlanta. Beyond that, I'd avoid falling into the now familiar trap of getting way too excited about an undrafted guy who gets cut or buried before August is up.

What are your expectations for the rookie class?

http://www.thefalcoholic.com/2015/7/24/9011023/setting-reasonable-expectations-for-every-falcons-rookie

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This is funny, I read the headline and thought "I agree" only to see Choates expectations for many of these players and think he's got too high of expecations himself!

Beasley 6-8 sacks? I'm thinking 6 is a reasonable expectation, any more than that and I'm stoked

Jalen Collins 8 starts? I'm thinking no starts unless we open up in nickle coverage. Hes raw and has a TON to learn before he can overtake Alford IMO.

Tevon Coleman 700 plus yards with 4-6 TDs? I'm thinking more like 500 yards would be reasonable for a 3rd round RB draft pick. hes got potential to light it up, I will not diagree with that, but reasonable expectation wise I think 500.

Justin Hardy 600-700 yards, 4-6 TDs? Ok, I gotta admit I think this may happen, but it may be stretching the "reasonable expectation" qualifier just a tad. Even 450 Yards and 3 TDs would be unreasonable for a 4th round pick IMO. Hardy was the top performer in the entire 2015 draft in the 3 cone drill, Giving him the ability to change direction without losing speed, and he was also one of the best performers in the vertical leap showing explosion. Hes not super fast, but his unique skill set gives him the ability to get separation on CBs in short and intermediate routes. Note Hardy is faster than Jerry Rice was- Rice ran a 4.59 40, but boy could Rice get separation out of breaks.

Grady Jarret - I agree with Choate that he's probably not going to get to do much this year. Hes got a ton to learn playing DT and I see him surfacing in 2016. I think fans exppecations of him this year are way too high. He'll get some snaps for sure, but I don't expect much production in this largely learning season.

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The only way Tevin Coleman ends up with a couple dozen receptions is if he establishes himself as a feature back. Previous Shanahan offenses have featured fewer RB targets than I remembered. And though he will shape what he wants to do to the situation, I expect there to be fewer RBs in the passing game. I'd guess even if Coleman ends up the "lead" back, Coleman would serve in the Roy Helu role....which could mean he's on the field for 3rd downs and red zone offense.

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This is funny, I read the headline and thought "I agree" only to see Choates expectations for many of these players and think he's got too high of expecations himself!

Beasley 6-8 sacks? I'm thinking 6 is a reasonable expecation, any more than that and I'm stoked

Jalen Collins 8 starts? I'm thinking no starts unless we open up in nickle coverage. Hes raw and has a TON to learn before he can overtake Alford IMO.

Tevon Coleman 700 plus yards with 4-6 TDs? I'm thinking more like 500 yards would be reasonable for a 3rd round RB draft pick. hes got potential to light it up, I will not diagree with that, but reasonable expecation wise I think 500.

Justin Hardy 600-700 yards, 4-6 TDs? Ok, I gotta admit I think this may happen, but it may be stretching the "reasonable expectation" qualifier just a tad. Even 450 Yards and 3 TDs would be unreasonable for a 4th round pick IMO. Hardy was the top perfromer in the entire 2015 draft in the 3 cone drill, meaning he can effortlessly change direction without losing speed, and he was also one of the best perfromers in the vertical leap showing explosion. Hes not super fast, but his unique skill set gives him the ability to get sepparation on CBs. Hardy is faster than Jerry Rice was- Rice ran a 4.59 40, but boy could Rice get separation with his ability to get separation out of breaks.

Grady Jarret - I agree with Choate that he's probably not going to get to do much this year. Hes got a ton to learn playing DT and I see him surfacing in 2016. I think fans exppecations of him this year are way too high.

Wait. Did Gazoo basically just say someone is being too homerish?!?!?

Who are you and what have you done with Gazoo?

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Beasley-7 sacks. Couldn't care less about how many tackles and whatnot he may have, but just get me 7 sacks.

Collins-Meh idk depends on his role.... Will reevaluate come preseason.

Coleman-Well he's talked so much this offseason already so I expect a 1,000 yard rusher.

Hardy-400 yards and 3 TDs. In all reality I just want a solid set of hands for Matt not named White.

Jarrett-Like Collins it depends on his role. Will reevaluate

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