Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press
At running back, incumbent starter Steven Jackson will be 31 years old entering the 2014-15 season. For his career he has: 2,553 attempts, 10,681 yards and 62 touchdowns. His average per carry has gone down each of the last three seasons (4.4, 4.1, 3.5), and he's coming off a season where he missed four games due to injury.
Relying on Jackson to carry the load is borderline asinine.
Fellow backs Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling are both decent reserve players, but neither is explosive enough to be considered a franchise back. Most blame the Falcons' offensive line woes on the lack of production in the run game. Those that do should refer to the Arizona Cardinals (among others).
The Cardinals have long had one of the worst lines in the NFL. In fact, free agent back Rashard Mendenhall could only generate 3.2 yards per attempt for the entire season (217 carries). But somehow rookie Andre Ellington managed to generate 5.5 yards per carry on his 118 attempts.
The difference being that the dynamic Ellington often made something out of nothing. The Falcons don't have backs that can create their own opportunities and should seriously think about acquiring one in free agency or through the draft.
Running backs Ben Tate (Houston Texans) and Jonathan Dwyer (Pittsburgh Steelers) would both add an explosive spark to Atlanta's backfield. Tate will be a highly sought after talent, while Dwyer may slide under the radar.
Both have the size to carry the load and both are used to being in a rotation. Pairing either up with Jackson would be worth its weight in gold. We must note that Dwyer has had weight issues in the past, similar to former Falcon Michael Turner.
As a native of Atlanta (and a former Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket), Dwyer may be pushed to perform admirably in front of friends and family. If weight, or motivation, is not an issue many would love to see the hometown hero return.