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Geneaut

Young Falcons who could see increased roles in 2019

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https://www.thefalcoholic.com/2019/1/22/18188399/young-falcons-who-could-see-increased-roles-in-2019

The Falcons have a host of young players worth spending more time with this coming season.

By Dave Choate  Jan 22, 2019, 8:00am EST
 

The Falcons happily have more than a handful of young players who have real potential to contribute in 2019 and beyond, and while not all of them are going to pan out exactly the way we’d like, they shouldn’t lack for opportunities this coming season. Here are a few worth considering.

RB Ito Smith

Easy call for Ito, who eased into a role with Devonta Freeman hurt but should face no obstacles for the #2 job in 2019 besides his own health. With Tevin Coleman likely headed elsewhere in free agency, Smith just has to beat out Brian Hill and/or a late round draft choice, and he showed more than enough in limited 2018 action to make his case for him.

There’s no question that with Freeman suffering a rash of injuries and nothing proven around him, Smith’s going to have an opportunity to step into a major role. If injury hits Freeman again, god forbid, Ito’s gonna be the next man up.

WR Russell Gage

Gage’s role will be small, because the opportunities afforded to fourth or fifth receivers are quite small with these Falcons. But he will have a role, I expect, because of the team’s keen interest in seeing him play late in the year. And because of the speed.

Gage was drafted primarily to contribute on special teams, but in between that and some unfortunate penalties, he flashed genuine promise as a receiver. That’s no small thing for a team that has struggled to find consistent, useful receiving options beyond their top three, and with Justin Hardy as a free agent and plenty of money sunk into the position between Julio Jonesand Mohamed Sanu, having a young player like Gage emerge would make a big difference. With Dirk Koetter coming on board with his fondness for a vertical passing attack, there may well be room for Gage (or Marvin Hall, for that matter) to make a mark.

TE Eric Saubert

This is the final year in which I’ll predict bigger things ahead for Saubert, as I’ll be forced to admit defeat if the rhetoric around him doesn’t match the playing time. This past offseason in particular, the Falcons had a lot of good things to say about Saubert, but it didn’t translate into any meaningful playing time until very late in the year. Considering his scouting report coming out of college, which highlighted his athleticism and the mismatch his size and speed could afford, it’s been surprising to see him used more as a blocker (where he’s been useful) than as a receiver (where he hasn’t done much).

This year ought to be an opportunity for that to change, even with Austin Hooper dominating targets at the top of the depth chart. Logan Paulsen is a free agent, the team doesn’t have any options currently on the roster that should be able to surpass Saubert, and they have a lot of needs more pressing than tight end to address in the draft. The sands are ever-shifting in Atlanta, of course, but Saubert should have his first real opportunity to head into a season as the #2 tight end, and he still has the talent to be useful in that role.

DT Deadrin Senat

Senat’s rookie season was limited by Dan Quinn making some weird calls—including making Senat an inactive one week for no discernible reason—and getting less playing time throughout much of the year than Terrell McClain, who played like the very definition of a replacement-level defensive tackle. With a year under his belt, some quietly impressive run stopping and flashes as a pass rusher, and McClain likely out the door, Senat’s role should absolutely grow heading into 2019.

The limiting factor here would be the Falcons going with someone like Ed Oliver in the first round, which would make it even harder for him to crack the rotation at the position. But it’s worth remembering that this is Jack Crawford’s final contract year with Atlanta, and that Senat is young, capable and affordable for the next three seasons. He’ll find his way into playing time.

LB Foye Oluokun

We heard rumblings throughout the spring that the Falcons would draft Foye Oluokun, and they did. Then we heard rumblings that Duke Riley would only have a few weeks to prove himself before the team decided to start Foye Oluokun, and then they did. For a sixth round rookie, his ascendance to playing time and his competence once he got it was frankly remarkable.

That’s why it’s easy to see Oluokun as a player who hasn’t begun to scratch the surface of what he can do in the NFL, and that’s why it’s easy to see the Falcons giving him plenty of playing time to determine if he can be their long-term third linebacker or even the eventual replacement for De’Vondre Campbell. He’s physical, athletic and showed some genuinely impressive coverage instincts at times in 2018, and there’s no reason to think he can’t push for a starting job in name if not in snaps for the season ahead.

CB/S Damontae Kazee

On one hand, it would be difficult for Kazee’s role to actually grow, given that he proved to be a capable full-time starter as the team’s free safety in 2018. On the other hand, the Falcons have to find a way to get him on the field even with Ricardo Allen back and healthy (we hope), and that’s an imperative in 2019.

To that end, Kazee is likely to find his way into playing time across the secondary. When the team needs a third safety, Kazee’s an obvious fit for that. When the team needs physicality at cornerback, they can trot Kazee out there. There’s even a chance that Kazee could beat out Brian Poole for nickel cornerback duties, given his superior upside in coverage if not bone-jarring sideline hits. Any way you slice it, though, he didn’t turn in the 2018 season with all its huge interceptions and encouraging strides in coverage to sit on the bench in 2019.

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Every article about our youth is going to feature these guys.  I think they all have an opportunity to be more involved in the game plan on both sides. Kazee and Foye already have as they were basically starters most of the year. Senat should have been starting over McClain...I would have taken the lumps with a rookie since we were bottom 5 defense in the league anyway.  The guy that is missing is Oliver.  He will be instrumental going forward as well. 

Overall the last couple drafts have been great for us.  We got starter quality guys in Takk, Ridley, Kazee and Foye.  We got good depth with starter potential in Oliver and Senat.  Then we got a lot of role players in Ito, Russ Gage, Duke, B. Hill and Saubert.  **** the only draft pick that hasn't shown something is Harlow and he is gone.  If we go back 3 drafts only Devin Fuller and Harlow haven't made an impact, the entirety of the rest of the last 3 drafts are starters or valuabe depth including 3 Probowlers.

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5 minutes ago, Stryka said:

Every article about our youth is going to feature these guys.  I think they all have an opportunity to be more involved in the game plan on both sides. Kazee and Foye already have as they were basically starters most of the year. Senat should have been starting over McClain...I would have taken the lumps with a rookie since we were bottom 5 defense in the league anyway.  The guy that is missing is Oliver.  He will be instrumental going forward as well. 

Overall the last couple drafts have been great for us.  We got starter quality guys in Takk, Ridley, Kazee and Foye.  We got good depth with starter potential in Oliver and Senat.  Then we got a lot of role players in Ito, Russ Gage, Duke, B. Hill and Saubert.  **** the only draft pick that hasn't shown something is Harlow and he is gone.  If we go back 3 drafts only Devin Fuller and Harlow haven't made an impact, the entirety of the rest of the last 3 drafts are starters or valuabe depth including 3 Probowlers.

Didn't we resign Harlow late in the season to the PS ? He may still be around.

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2 minutes ago, Geneaut said:

Didn't we resign Harlow late in the season to the PS ? He may still be around.

I thought we cut him to make room for the LS Condo one time and another for the Kicker Tavechhio.  You may be right.  That said...that's 3 amazing drafts with potential to be better.

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I think with Mularkey coming back as the TE coach will be huge for Hooper but also for Saubert. We saw some glimpses of a good player from Saubert last season but it was not consistent. I think now with Mularkey, he will grow even more and we can possibly use 2 TE sets and both of the TE can be a threat to the defense. 

Senat just has been great, the guy played fantastic for a rookie. Was throwing guys around like ragdolls and looks very promising. Another offseason in the NFL will be huge and I can only image what he can become, hopefully, he will reach his potential as Grady did. 

I also look at Gage as that gritty WR like Roddy. He isn't as talented but the guy makes crazy catches and hits hard on ST's. I think he can be used way more next season and I hope he is used more. 

Really the only thing we are truly missing on the offense is a solid Oline. I say draft one of the top lineman. Doesn't matter if OT, Guard, or anything. Cody Ford, Jonah Williams, Chris Lindstrom,  Jawaan Taylor, and so on. I know many people have said this is a weak Oline class but there are several players that can really help us out and are worthy of drafting in the 1st and 2nd and 3rd. Just depends on what we do in the FA. Its gonna be fun for sure. 

Edited by FalconBlood23
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7 minutes ago, FalconBlood23 said:

I also look at Gage as that gritty WR like Roddy. He isn't as talented but the guy makes crazy catches and hits hard on ST's. I think he can be used way more next season and I hope he is used more. 

 

One of the things I like about Gage is that he is physical and aggressive. He picked up a few penalties with his aggressiveness last season but I think that can be tempered. Roddy played like that so that's a good pickup on your part. I hadn't connected those dots in my head before you said it, but I see it now.

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8 minutes ago, FalconBlood23 said:

I think with Mularkey coming back as the TE coach will be huge for Hooper but also for Saubert. We saw some glimpses of a good player from Saubert last season but it was not consistent. I think now with Mularkey, he will grow even more and we can possibly use 2 TE sets and both of the TE can be a threat to the defense. 

Senat just has been great, the guy played fantastic for a rookie. Was through guys around like ragdolls and looks very promising. Another offseason in the NFL will be huge and I can only image what he can become, hopefully, he will reach his potential as Grady did. 

I also look at Gage as that gritty WR like Roddy. He isn't as talented but the guy makes crazy catches and hits hard on ST's. I think he can be used way more next season and I hope he is used more. 

Really the only thing we are truly missing on the offense is a solid Oline. I say draft one of the top lineman. Doesn't matter if OT, Guard, or anything. Cody Ford, Jonah Williams, Chris Lindstrom,  Jawaan Taylor, and so on. I know many people have said this is a weak Oline class but there are several players that can really help us out and are worthy of drafting in the 1st and 2nd and 3rd. Just depends on what we do in the FA. Its gonna be fun for sure. 

Im really interested in Cody Ford and Jawaan Taylor.  Both are big RTs that could play Guard in the NFL.  They would essentially be upgrading and providing depth for 2 positions.  I think we have to find a way to come away with 1 of the 4 mentioned in the 1st 2 rounds.

I like what you said about Gage too.  We know he is rugged and he is learning to be a better ST from Bethel.  He has the best WR room to be in to get better there as well.

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25 minutes ago, Geneaut said:

One of the things I like about Gage is that he is physical and aggressive. He picked up a few penalties with his aggressiveness last season but I think that can be tempered. Roddy played like that so that's a good pickup on your part. I hadn't connected those dots in my head before you said it, but I see it now.

Yeah, that's the one thing that Gage looked to me when we started to use him late in the season. He is that gritty possession WR that Roddy was like. Of course, he isn't as good as Roddy but he can be used most definitely. Thanks I try to be a scout on my free time haha.

24 minutes ago, Stryka said:

Im really interested in Cody Ford and Jawaan Taylor.  Both are big RTs that could play Guard in the NFL.  They would essentially be upgrading and providing depth for 2 positions.  I think we have to find a way to come away with 1 of the 4 mentioned in the 1st 2 rounds.

I like what you said about Gage too.  We know he is rugged and he is learning to be a better ST from Bethel.  He has the best WR room to be in to get better there as well.

Totally, man, I am telling you there are several very good picks we can make in the first 3 rounds regarding both of the lines. If we draft a Cody Ford in the 1st, a stud DT in the 2nd and an OG in the 3rd which I am sure there will be one that will be a knock out draft. Signing one more RT/Guard in FA  like that RT from the Dolphins. He can play RT, Ford RG and the 3rd pick can be LG. Sure its risky as these are just rookies but I think at some point you have take a chance and let them play and see how they grow. Thats what the Colts did, I do not see why we cant do it. 

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I'm surprised to not see Oliver on this list. With the possibility of cutting/trading Alford and the impending FA of Brian Poole, I'd expect him to get an increased role next season. He struggled early on, but played better late in the season. 

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16 minutes ago, Atlantafan21 said:

I'm surprised to not see Oliver on this list. With the possibility of cutting/trading Alford and the impending FA of Brian Poole, I'd expect him to get an increased role next season. He struggled early on, but played better late in the season. 

Right.  I think Poole is safe as he is an RFA.  He will be back on a tender. Oliver is a 2nd round talent and he was drafted to start on the outside.  I think some more adjusting to NFL speed and he will be ok.  He has to marry himself to the outside technique and turn Sammy Sideline into his best friend.  That's a big part of playing Cover 3.  R. Sherman kills it with squeezing WRs to the sideline and using his length to make plays.

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1 hour ago, Stryka said:

I thought we cut him to make room for the LS Condo one time and another for the Kicker Tavechhio.  You may be right.  That said...that's 3 amazing drafts with potential to be better.

Sean Harlow was signed to the Practice Squad late in the season. Was with the colts practice squad

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6 hours ago, GrimeyKidd said:

Sean Harlow was signed to the Practice Squad late in the season. Was with the colts practice squad

NOPE  He was signed to the ACTIVE roster 12/04--  he's on the end of year active roster at the Falcon home site --also the home site 2018 transaction list show he was re-signed to active roster

12/04/18   Harris to IR ---Condo replaced

Zimmer signed   Safety  Tandy cut to make room

NFL site confusing about games played in it show recent games weeks 15,16,17  BUT career show 1 game

 

if you take a player for another PS he must go to your active ( I do not know if he was still on any roster at the time he was re-signed -haven't checked)

 

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This is why I feel our defense is not as bad as we played last year.

having Debo, Neal, and Allen all year, massively upgrades our defense.

honestly I would love to see us move to three safeties on our base defense next year, look something like this.

Dline: Takk, Grady, (draft pick first round DT), and Bruce Irvin

Lb’s: Debo and Campbell

Corners: Trufant and Oliver

Safeties: Neal, Allen, and Kazee 

 

we would then have Beasly( if he restructures) Senat, Oluokun, and Poole as quality depth and rotational pieces.

I can’t believe that that unit wouldn’t at least be top half of the league in stats

 

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On 1/22/2019 at 5:25 PM, delaigle said:

NOPE  He was signed to the ACTIVE roster 12/04--  he's on the end of year active roster at the Falcon home site --also the home site 2018 transaction list show he was re-signed to active roster

12/04/18   Harris to IR ---Condo replaced

Zimmer signed   Safety  Tandy cut to make room

NFL site confusing about games played in it show recent games weeks 15,16,17  BUT career show 1 game

 

if you take a player for another PS he must go to your active ( I do not know if he was still on any roster at the time he was re-signed -haven't checked)

 

No. He was waived from the colts practice squad and signed with the Falcons practice squad October 23rd Then signed a futures contract December 31st

Edited by GrimeyKidd

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 I can see Marvin Hall playing a bigger role in the offense.. the last year DK was here he actually got something that a lot of people do not think they could get ....offensive production out of Devin Hester.

 I'm also anxious to see him in the returner role with a different special teams coach... maybe the new guy will add some different wrinkles to help him take another step

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On 1/22/2019 at 9:40 AM, FalconBlood23 said:

Really the only thing we are truly missing on the offense is a solid Oline. I say draft one of the top lineman. Doesn't matter if OT, Guard, or anything. Cody Ford, Jonah Williams, Chris Lindstrom,  Jawaan Taylor, and so on. I know many people have said this is a weak Oline class but there are several players that can really help us out and are worthy of drafting in the 1st and 2nd and 3rd. Just depends on what we do in the FA. Its gonna be fun for sure. 

Sometimes a shallow class means value early because the deeper positions get snapped up. I’m down with OL early. 

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4 hours ago, falconsd56 said:

 I can see Marvin Hall playing a bigger role in the offense.. the last year DK was here he actually got something that a lot of people do not think they could get ....offensive production out of Devin Hester.

 I'm also anxious to see him in the returner role with a different special teams coach... maybe the new guy will add some different wrinkles to help him take another step

Hall was a much better route runner this year

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On 1/22/2019 at 11:22 AM, GrimeyKidd said:

Sean Harlow was signed to the Practice Squad late in the season. Was with the colts practice squad

Was actually a futures contract which puts him o n the p.s. During the offseason.

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4 hours ago, JDaveG said:

Sometimes a shallow class means value early because the deeper positions get snapped up. I’m down with OL early. 

Such as the tight end class 2 years ago. The value was with kittle and hopefully saubert that year.

if we sign a good guard then im down with RT in the first. I'm not cool taking an OG from this class in the first.

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11 hours ago, falconsd56 said:

 I can see Marvin Hall playing a bigger role in the offense.. the last year DK was here he actually got something that a lot of people do not think they could get ....offensive production out of Devin Hester.

 I'm also anxious to see him in the returner role with a different special teams coach... maybe the new guy will add some different wrinkles to help him take another step

RIght now I think he is locked into being the 4th WR.  He wont have to share with Hardy and Gage isn't quite the WR yet.  Adding his speed to our offense more regularly is going to be a plus.  Hester looked like a real WR with us.  If he can be a poor man's Hester for us I will be ecstatic.

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30 minutes ago, Stryka said:

RIght now I think he is locked into being the 4th WR.  He wont have to share with Hardy and Gage isn't quite the WR yet.  Adding his speed to our offense more regularly is going to be a plus.  Hester looked like a real WR with us.  If he can be a poor man's Hester for us I will be ecstatic.

Exactly

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7 hours ago, ATLSlobberKnockers said:

Hall was a much better route runner this year

Saw Hall in another post being the fastest guy recorded on the Falcons this year. 

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