The Falcons took their change-of-pace running back of the future here in Devonta Freeman out of the 2013 national championship Florida State team. Atlanta needed someone who could step right in and replace the newly retired Jason Snelling while also giving them some more speed from the spot.
Freeman will be a great complement to Steven Jackson and Jacquizz Rodgers, as he can block, catch and run the ball effectively. He could also be the dark horse to replace Jackson in the long term, as he was the workhorse back at Florida State this past year.
On the Field
Freeman is a jack of all trades, master-of-none type running back. He is a great all-around value for a team like Atlanta which will use multiple running backs in the same formation. He profiles well as a pass-blocker, a pure rusher and a receiver out of the backfield.
As a pass-blocker, Freeman's technique is downright awful. However, he's more than willing to get into people's faces and knock around blitzing linebackers. He's fearless no matter who comes in to attack his quarterback, whether it's a massive end he's chipping or a linebacker coming off the edge.
His rushing skills are what make this pick sensible. He's got great vision and subtle quickness. He profiles very similarly to a more-built out version of long-time Falcon Warrick Dunn. He's a between-the-tackles running back who grinds teams down despite lack of size.
When receiving the ball out of the backfield, Freeman provides much more than a simple screen option. Atlanta will be able to run multiple routes for him and even put him into the slot like it does for Jacquizz Rodgers. Freeman is a great all-around fit for the Falcons.
Off the Field
On the surface, Freeman looks like an easy Comrade Filter fit for the Falcons. He wasn't a captain, but he was a team leader for the Seminoles and has kept clean both on and off the field. When digging into Freeman's story, he's really shown to be a remarkable person off the field.
He grew up in a neighborhood known for its gang activities and knew there weren't many ways out. At points, he had to use his financial aid to help his family out. However, he made it to college at Florida State through sports and has shown to be an inspiration to his old neighborhood.
Al Jazeera America's Timothy Bella quoted Freeman as saying, "We need to show the kids we’re from the same area, and that anything is possible if you have tunnel vision. A man with a vision is a dangerous thing.”
It will be great to see what his plans are once he gets to Atlanta. Falcons owner and CEO Arthur Blank loves to help players set up their own charities, and Freeman could be another guy who gets help from Blank in setting one up for his old neighborhood.
Why Devonta Freeman instead of Lache Seastrunk or Storm Johnson?
Lache Seastrunk is a home run threat with 4.40 speed in the 40, but he lacks the vision to be a great NFL back. Storm Johnson is a brute, but he has fumbling issues. Devonta Freeman may not have the 4.40 speed that Seastrunk has, but his vision is great.
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He also doesn't have the fumbling issues that Johnson has. Freeman was the best running back available at 103. The Falcons could have gone a different route, but they wouldn't have come away with the right complement for their current personnel.
With the additions of Jon Asamoah and Jake Matthews to the offensive line, Freeman should be a better fit for the run schemes that new offensive line coach Mike Tice will be running with. Atlanta made the right pick here with Freeman.
For more information on Devonta Freeman, check out Ryan Lownes' scouting report on him.
All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus' Premium Stats (subscription required), ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All combine and pro day info is courtesy NFL Draft Scout. All contract information is courtesy of Spotrac and Rotoworld.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, college football, the NFL and the NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.