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A TDWII Observation: The <RED ALERT> area on our roster no one seems concerned about…WR


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If you read my first off-season proposal, you know that WR is an area of concern for me.  Actually, it’s been that way for a little while.  I wrote the following last off-season.

Question: Do you expect Taylor Gabriel to be a Falcon in 2018?  Me?  I don’t.  I think he either plays well enough to earn a long term deal which I would not prefer the Falcons not match (or get into a bidding war) considering they have $20M/year invested in Julio/Sanu…or he has an underwhelming year. 

I like Gabriel, but I also think that at his size, he’s not going to be able to have significant workloads.  He’s a situational player – a really good one at 100%, but situational nonetheless.  I pointed out earlier in the off-season that Aldrick Robinson actually played more snaps than Gabriel.  If Julio/Sanu goes down, it's not Gabriel that takes on the additional workload (at least it wasn't last year).  And Hardy has hardly distinguished himself in two seasons.

So when I look at the WR position for the Falcons beyond 2017, I have concerns.

Well, we’re in 2018 now, and if you ask me, WR is really the most dangerously thin part of our depth chart.  And for a team with as much vested in Matt Ryan as the Falcons do (and will given his new contract which should be doled out later this off-season will approach if not top $30M/year)…the Falcons have to make sure he’s equipped with a level of talent out wide that can justify this massive investment.

Let’s take Julio out of the equation.  We all know he’s one of the elite players (not just WR’s) in the game.  Behind that…<RED ALERT>

Mohammed Sanu:  So I’m going to put a couple of per game stat lines over the course of two seasons.  One is Mohammed Sanu’s, and the other is Mystery Player A.

Sanu: 4.2 receptions/5.9 targets, 45.2 yards, 0.3 TD’s.
Mystery Player A: 3.5 receptions/6.3 targets, 43.9 yards, 0.12 TD’s.

Anyone care to take a guess at Mystery Player A…you can scroll down below to find out, but in the interim, let’s look at the rest of the depth chart.

AFMB consensus seems to be that we’d prefer the Falcons take a pass at re-signing Taylor Gabriel.  Away from Kyle Shanahan, Gabriel’s physical limitations showed and he could have likely earned the moniker, Mr. Bubble Screen, because by the end of the season, it seemed like that’s all Sark could think of to get him the ball.  This is not all on Gabriel…but in the end, if an OC can’t leverage/use a player to the best of his ability, well, Sark isn’t going anywhere in 2018 at least.

So let’s move to Justin Hardy.

I hate to belabor the point as I’ve made mention of it in several posts, but his 3 years stat line is:

62/618/7.

He generates 2.3 YAC/reception (that’s pretty bad) and his longest reception in his career is 27 yards.  I’m going to go all Mean Girl here…but we have to stop trying to make Justin Hardy happen.

He’s a significantly inferior version of Mohammed Sanu.  But that also brings up another point.  Our presumed (at this juncture) #3 WR is an inferior facsimile of our #2 WR.  So he doesn’t even possess a style contrast.  He’s not a burner…he’s not a red zone/end zone threat.  He’s a wannabe JAG.

…and then behind Justin Hardy?

Nick Williams
Reggie Davis
Marvin Hall
Devin Fuller

IT’S BARREN!!!

Today we would literally have no choice by to play Hardy in the vicinity of 600 snaps minimum because our depth chart at WR is abhorrent.  And I think that’s what’s puzzling to me…is that this information doesn’t have to be dug up…unearthed.  It’s right there for everyone in plain sight.  And I don’t sense any urgency on a lot of folks part to fix the issue.

Complicating matters is the following…Julio/Sanu have significant cap charges:

2018: Julio 2nd highest on the Falcons, Sanu 8th.
2019: Julio highest, Sanu 6th.

I doubt the Falcons brass is looking to add to the payroll at this position at least this off-season.  Now Sanu’s contract get more palatable to extricate ourselves from after this upcoming season…and while it’s possible the Falcons could explore that depending on how the 2018 season goes, it also brings up the obvious point that he is our second best WR by a WIDE margin and after him, there is NOONE in line to replace him.

The other worrisome point is this.  Anyone figure out who Mystery Player A is?

Mystery Player A is Michael Jenkins production during his final two season with the Falcons (2009-2010).

Now, I loathed Jenkins.  Thought he was a terrible NFL WR.  I think Sanu is a significantly better, tougher, more reliable player.  He plays with an edge and has more versatility.  I don’t want to compare players – Sanu is better.  Sanu is/was much more of a slot option than Jenkins, who rarely operated from that position on the field and while it’s worth noting that Sanu’s career YPR is 11.3, the production doesn’t lie…they produced at very similar levels on a per game basis.

Consider also that the Falcons passing game back during those seasons averaged only 231.9 YPG versus 284.6 that we’ve seen from the Falcons since 2016, when Sanu became a Falcon.  So Sanu’s production comes in an offense that is close to 23% more productive yardage wise than the offense that Jenkins was in.

To compound that, while Jenkins was the #2 WR in that offense, he was the clear 3rd option – behind Roddy White (in his prime) and Tony Gonzalez who during those two seasons combined for an average line of:

171.5 Receptions/290 Targets/2032.5 Receiving Yards/16.5 TD’s.

Despite that level of production from their Top 2 targets over the previous two seasons, Dimitroff gambled and made the Julio deal.

Now – I’m not suggesting a similar move.  There is no talent in this years draft within hailing distance of what Julio (and AJ Green) represented that draft season.  However, since FA is likely not an option due to the contract situation we have at that position now – the Falcons will have to turn to the draft to find a starter – no ifs ands or buts.  And usually, you find that in Round 1 (Round 2 worst case).  And I see a lot of off-season scenarios that simply aren’t treating this roster gap with enough urgency.

But Ryan is a significantly better player than the 2009/2010 version of himself.  He can easily get to his 3rd/4th reads.  Back in 2009/2010…he was very focused on Roddy/Gonzo.  But as a 10 year vet, if given talent – Ryan can leverage it.  He can make it work.  Does a QB need time to get to those reads – yes, so I’m not suggesting that WR only be addressed as part of the off-season plan.  But the Falcons are incredibly top heavy at WR.  In fact, the Falcons lack of talent at the WR position leans on Ryan’s abilities to make chicken salad out of chicken ish too much.

The Falcons caught lightning in a bottle with Taylor Gabriel (and to a lesser extent Aldrick Robinson)…but the match between Ryan and Shanahan caught fire.  And Shanahan found useful situational roles for players that quite frankly, he alone has been able to find use for.

But with Sark in the OC role for at least 2018 – we can’t count on his ability to raise all boats with his tide (like Shanny did)…we need TALENT! 

More succinctly – we need 1st ROUND TALENT!

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TDWII,

everyone is concerned about it but we have two more important positions to fill first - OG and DT.   Further, you can get a decent WR in 3rd or 4th round or fairly cheap one in UFA.

The lines of scrimmage must be addressed first.  So just because we don't agree w/ you that it is our #1 priority, doesn't mean we are ignoring it.

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2 minutes ago, g-dawg said:

TDWII,

everyone is concerned about it but we have two more important positions to fill first - OG and DT.   Further, you can get a decent WR in 3rd or 4th round or fairly cheap one in UFA.

The lines of scrimmage must be addressed first.  So just because we don't agree w/ you that it is our #1 priority, doesn't mean we are ignoring it.

Look at the Giants last year. They had a ton of WR talent, but the O-line was so bad that Eli didn't even have time to find them.

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I was thinking about making a similar post but I am glad you did because you have explained it better than I could have.

People still look at 2016 and say, *we had the 7th best offense ever with almost the exact same receivers minus Aldrick Robinson so what is the problem?* 

Obviously there are numerous problems which I won't go into but its unlikely this offense reaches those heights again.

We seriously need to look to the future at WR because Julio ain't gonna last forever and we have no young upcoming play maker.

A first round talent would be nice but I think we have more pressing needs and if the situation doesn't remedy itself a WR in the first round in 2019 would likely become the priority.
 

I think it would be interesting to rank team's WR corps not counting their #1 and I think we would end up being quite low down.

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Just now, g-dawg said:

Agreed but we don’t need to go WR hunting in first round for sure.

Right. You can find a decent speed guy in the mid rounds. Plus we have good, smart, mature receivers in Jones and Sanu that can handle the prima donna WRs that colleges tend to spit out anymore.

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8 minutes ago, g-dawg said:

TDWII,

everyone is concerned about it but we have two more important positions to fill first - OG and DT.   Further, you can get a decent WR in 3rd or 4th round or fairly cheap one in UFA.

The lines of scrimmage must be addressed first.  So just because we don't agree w/ you that it is our #1 priority, doesn't mean we are ignoring it.

Why DT?  Assuming we re-sign Poe...we have our starters there.  And while I would like to see their snap percentages decrease, any DT drafted likely won't have a starters role to ascend to even long term.  Now if we let Poe walk...all bets off.

With Sanu...2018 could be his last season with the Falcons potentially.  You can find talent at any positon at any point in the draft.  DT, OG, WR, QB, RB...you name it.  It's about prioritizing...that what I'm really talking about.  And just 'checking a box' at WR in the 3rd or 4th round to say 'we've got that position covered' is IMO not going to cut it.

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2 minutes ago, quotemokc said:

A first round talent would be nice but I think we have more pressing needs and if the situation doesn't remedy itself a WR in the first round in 2019 would likely become the priority.

What I would say to this comment is that the situation will simply not 'remedy itself' given what the depth chart looks like.  So if 1st round WR would be a priority in that scenario you just laid out, why would it not be the same in 2018?

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3 minutes ago, TheDirtyWordII said:

Why DT?  Assuming we re-sign Poe...we have our starters there.  And while I would like to see their snap percentages decrease, any DT drafted likely won't have a starters role to ascend to even long term.  Now if we let Poe walk...all bets off.

With Sanu...2018 could be his last season with the Falcons potentially.  You can find talent at any positon at any point in the draft.  DT, OG, WR, QB, RB...you name it.  It's about prioritizing...that what I'm really talking about.  And just 'checking a box' at WR in the 3rd or 4th round to say 'we've got that position covered' is IMO not going to cut it.

Looking at Salary cap of all teams, I predict someone will offer Poe a 4yr, $40mm deal - and it won’t be the Falcons.

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3 minutes ago, TheDirtyWordII said:

What I would say to this comment is that the situation will simply not 'remedy itself' given what the depth chart looks like.  So if 1st round WR would be a priority in that scenario you just laid out, why would it not be the same in 2018?

I guess because I still expect top flight production from Julio and to a lesser extent Sanu before they are 30.

I also feel like this years top WRs are not good value in the first round.

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The idea that the so called mentioned positions are more important isn't naturally so.I been on drafting a WRer early and have been one of the very few who mentioned Christian Kirk.

I see this guy can effect multiple roles on our team without having to go look for a returner.He ticks that box also he's a probable replacement for Sanu with talent to burn.The idea a pick like this isn't important as the supposed G or DT I find perplexing.

I'd seriously have a look at him at 26 and if he's there in the 2nd I'd be real disappointed if the Falcons didn't take him at that spot.

If you want to add pure talent and need I just don't see how you can overlook Christian Kirk.

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I know I brought it up in draft talk a while back.  Julio just turned 29 and Sanu will be 29 in August.  Not that they can't play for some additional years.  If those guys are both out or Sanu is out, you don't really have an option that can beat a #1 or #2 CB consistently.  Not sure if Gabriel will be back.  Hardy looks like a #4 at best to me.  We could use another talented guy in the mix.

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9 minutes ago, kiwifalcon said:

The idea that the so called mentioned positions are more important isn't naturally so.I been on drafting a WRer early and have been one of the very few who mentioned Christian Kirk.

I see this guy can effect multiple roles on our team without having to go look for a returner.He ticks that box also he's a probable replacement for Sanu with talent to burn.The idea a pick like this isn't important as the supposed G or DT I find perplexing.

I'd seriously have a look at him at 26 and if he's there in the 2nd I'd be real disappointed if the Falcons didn't take him at that spot.

If you want to add pure talent and need I just don't see how you can overlook Christian Kirk.

I like Kirk...he's who I had drafted in my original off-season proposal.

However, I am warming up very fast to James Washington.

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I'd still prioritise the lines. If one of Vita Vea, Da'Ron Payne, Isiah Wynn or Taven Bryan isnt there and someone like Courtland Sutton or Christian Kirk is sitting there then I wouldn't complain but as of right now we have 2 DT's under contract for 2018. That has to be the priority.

A couple of low cost guys who might be worth a shot are Justin Hunter and Dante Moncrief. Both outside guys with tons of potential but never quite put it all together.

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2 hours ago, TheDirtyWordII said:

Why DT?  Assuming we re-sign Poe...we have our starters there.  And while I would like to see their snap percentages decrease, any DT drafted likely won't have a starters role to ascend to even long term.  Now if we let Poe walk...all bets off.

It's called a rotation. Remember the Superbowl when everyone was tired? Yeah.

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2 hours ago, quotemokc said:

I was thinking about making a similar post but I am glad you did because you have explained it better than I could have.

People still look at 2016 and say, *we had the 7th best offense ever with almost the exact same receivers minus Aldrick Robinson so what is the problem?* 

Obviously there are numerous problems which I won't go into but its unlikely this offense reaches those heights again.

We seriously need to look to the future at WR because Julio ain't gonna last forever and we have no young upcoming play maker.

A first round talent would be nice but I think we have more pressing needs and if the situation doesn't remedy itself a WR in the first round in 2019 would likely become the priority.
 

I think it would be interesting to rank team's WR corps not counting their #1 and I think we would end up being quite low down.

I feel like we need to seriously look into upgrading the wr this year and next year..much like the dirty word I'm very worried that the wr talent is going to bottom out sooner rather than later..and we need to be ready for that.

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1 hour ago, kiwifalcon said:

The idea that the so called mentioned positions are more important isn't naturally so.I been on drafting a WRer early and have been one of the very few who mentioned Christian Kirk.

I see this guy can effect multiple roles on our team without having to go look for a returner.He ticks that box also he's a probable replacement for Sanu with talent to burn.The idea a pick like this isn't important as the supposed G or DT I find perplexing.

I'd seriously have a look at him at 26 and if he's there in the 2nd I'd be real disappointed if the Falcons didn't take him at that spot.

If you want to add pure talent and need I just don't see how you can overlook Christian Kirk.

Let me help you.  Here are all the weapons before you get to the #3 wide receiver right now:

1) Julio Jones

2) Mohammad Sanu

3) Devonta Freeman

4) Teco

5) #3 WR

If Sark would re-introduce the RB to the forward passing game, we have plenty of firepower there.  Also, there is little guarantee that Christian Kirk in 1st round will be better than someone like DJ Moore in the third round or Anthony Miller in 2nd round - all three are twitchy slot receivers.

Now, at OG we tried all year at RG and Schweitzer showed very little and was a liability.  Our Center is all-pro but on wrong side of 30 as well as our LG and is coming off injury.   Schweitzer and Garland(UFA) are nothing more than adequate backup depth.

Now,onto DT.   We will have to pay Grady Jarrett $10mm per year next year and I doubt we give Poe the market value of his $10mm per year this year.  Hageman I gone and Shelby is likely cut.  Upshaw and Rubhin are UFA and journeymen.

So ummm, yeah.

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2 minutes ago, g-dawg said:

Let me help you.  Here are all the weapons before you get to the #3 wide receiver right now:

1) Julio Jones

2) Mohammad Sanu

3) Devonta Freeman

4) Teco

5) #3 WR

If Sark would re-introduce the RB to the forward passing game, we have plenty of firepower there.  Also, there is little guarantee that Christian Kirk in 1st round will be better than someone like DJ Moore in the third round or Anthony Miller in 2nd round - all three are twitchy slot receivers.

Now, at OG we tried all year at RG and Schweitzer showed very little and was a liability.  Our Center is all-pro but on wrong side of 30 as well as our LG and is coming off injury.   Schweitzer and Garland(UFA) are nothing more than adequate backup depth.

Now,onto DT.   We will have to pay Grady Jarrett $10mm per year next year and I doubt we give Poe the market value of his $10mm per year this year.  Hageman I gone and Shelby is likely cut.  Upshaw and Rubhin are UFA and journeymen.

So ummm, yeah.

How bout return guy and how bout his potential to off load Sanu next year and Kirk steps right in.

Kirk helps this team in 2 phases of the game which other player mentioned can have that effect of the mentioned.

The idea that he is #5 option supposedly isn't a good way to look at it.If this guy turns out to be what I think he could be he's a game changer for this offense and STs.

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8 minutes ago, kiwifalcon said:

How bout return guy and how bout his potential to off load Sanu next year and Kirk steps right in.

Kirk helps this team in 2 phases of the game which other player mentioned can have that effect of the mentioned.

The idea that he is #5 option supposedly isn't a good way to look at it.If this guy turns out to be what I think he could be he's a game changer for this offense and STs.

You can have a Ferrari body but if you have a broken down engine you will only look good in the garage.

I am all for securing a #3 WR this year but - what is the number I just wrote?  #3.

How many teams draft their #3 in first round when they have holes on both sides of the LOS?

it is just a bad idea.

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