Atlanta Falcons: Full Position Breakdown & Depth Chart Analysis at Wide Receiver
The Atlanta Falcons have one of the best wide receiving corps in the NFL. In breaking down the talent on the depth chart, there are four guys who look to be guaranteed a roster spot due to their overall talent level and a role already being carved out for them.
After those four, you have eight gentlemen competing for two spots. It makes it really tough because there will be at least six guys without jobs from this unit after the preseason ends. But for now, the depth chart probably looks like something similar to what you will see here.
12. Freddie Martino
Freddie Martino is one of the best unknown wide receivers out there. However, he needs a lot of work before he can even make the 53-man roster. In watching some of his North Greenville film, he has flashes of Roddy White-level potential.
He has solid size and good speed for his frame. He does need to show more in terms of catching ability. His route running is also atrocious at this point. Working with White, Julio Jones and Terry Robiskie should be the best thing for Martino.
Even if he just makes the practice squad in 2014, he has the potential to make the 2015 53-man roster.
11. Tramaine Thompson
Tramaine Thompson is a bit of an unknown as far as how his skills will transfer from the Big 12 to the NFL. He’s played against big time competition but hasn’t even been the best wide receiver on his own team during his time there.
The Falcons might see something that the rest of us haven’t seen yet. That, or they aren’t afraid to bring in a camp body to just be a camp body sometimes. As harsh as it may sound, Thompson comes off as just a camp body at this point.
10. Bernard Reedy
Toledo's Bernard Reedy is an excellent example of a talented player from a small school not getting drafted because his college film isn’t exceptional. However, he does have enough talent to at least earn a roster spot if given the chance.
The real question is whether he can show the same talent on special teams units that he’s shown on the field as a slot receiver. He’s similar to Darius Johnson in a lot of ways—both good and bad. Hopefully he’ll prove everyone wrong and earn that final roster spot.
9. Dominique Croom
Dominique Croom is a bit of an unknown. He has very limited film availability, but he does have great measurables.
If he can look like a solid player in the preseason as both a receiver and special teams player, he might just keep his spot on the practice squad. Otherwise, the Falcons will have to give it to one of their other receivers that are in camp this year.
It might not be a bad thing to upgrade from Croom. The Falcons need someone who can compete long term for the No. 3 and No. 4 roles—even if it is just the practice squad.
8. Geraldo Boldewijn
Geraldo Boldewijn is an underrated talent from Boise State. He compares favorably to Brian Finneran in both his size and his physicality. The Falcons need him to step up on special teams to be able to make the roster, but he should be able to make the practice squad at least.
Boldewijn has great body control and hands and showed both of them during the Medal of Honor Bowl practices in Charleston. He really stood out compared to the large number of FBS and BCS talent at that game.
7. Julian Jones
As of right now, the most talented player on the roster out of the 2014 undrafted free agent pickups is Julian Jones. He’s a very quick, intelligent receiver who understands how to read a defense and find the proper spacing to burn a defense.
Unfortunately, he hasn’t played with great quarterbacks at Arkansas State and needs to get used to a ball that is going to be thrown on target. He won’t be allowed to freelance as much as he did in college and could end up as a valuable all-around player for Atlanta.
6. Darius Johnson
The Falcons were so decimated by injury and incompetence in 2013 that Darius Johnson actually saw the field. Unfortunately, he didn’t provide much more than what Harry Douglas was already providing. The only reason why he would be this high on the depth chart is experience.
That’s an invaluable thing for a veteran receiver. However, he’s not anywhere close to the ideal physical specimen for any of the top three spots. He isn’t a great special teams player either and could end up on another team when all is said and done.
5. Drew Davis
Some guys are just going to make their livings on special teams. Drew Davis is the best example of a special teams player sticking to where he could make some impact on the field as well. Davis has scored a couple of touchdowns in his career despite being the fourth receiver (at best) on the depth chart.
Davis has shown that he has the ability to be a deep threat if Matt Ryan can get the time in the pocket to get the ball to him. He’s more than willing to fight for the ball and could end up being the dark horse to replace the production that Tony Gonzalez gave to the Falcons from 2009-2013.
4. Devin Hester
Devin Hester isn’t exactly known for his receiving skills. In fact, that's why the Chicago Bears not only traded for Brandon Marshall but drafted Alshon Jeffery. Hester is a unique weapon, though, because he can score from anywhere on the field.
The Falcons need to design some specific packages to take advantage of the raw speed that Hester still has. Lining him up at running back in some sets, in the slot in others and even on the outside could really allow him to use his speed as the ultimate mismatch.
3. Harry Douglas
Harry Douglas had a career year in 2013, but it was only because the Falcons top two wide receivers went down for most of the season. This led to him receiving the bulk of the targets as an outside receiver, but he wasn’t able to maximize them.
Sure, he had over 1,000 yards receiving, but he only had a total of two touchdowns and most of his yardage came after the Falcons were already down quite a bit.
Douglas is a solid third-option for the Falcons' offense and should produce more now that Tony Gonzalez is retired.
2. Roddy White
Roddy White is arguably the best wide receiver in Atlanta Falcons history. His six year run from 2007 to 2012 was one of the best six year runs in NFL history. He had 80-plus receptions, 1,150-plus yards and six or more touchdowns during each of those six years—something that just Jerry Rice and Torry Holt have been able to duplicate.
However, White was injured for most of last season and was unable to produce effectively as a receiving threat until the last five games of the year.
Then again, he did give the Falcons 43 catches for 502 yards and two touchdowns in those games—showing that he still has it when he’s healthy. It wouldn’t be shocking to see White return to his 80-plus catch, 1150-plus yards and six or more touchdown contributions if he can stay healthy in 2014.
1. Julio Jones
Julio Jones is one of the top five wide receivers in the NFL when he's healthy. He has insanely good body control and understands how to read defenses and find the holes in zones to burn a defense deep. He can stop on a dime and has an extremely large catch radius.
He also has something that no one else on the offense has—the ability to take any five-yard slant and turn it into an 80-yard score. He is that true No. 1 that the Falcons will need to stay healthy for the team to be at their best and win the most games.
Jones is the Falcons' best playmaker, and there's no question that he's the current and future No. 1 for them. The only real question for Jones is how much the Falcons are going to pay him when he finally finishes his contract in 2015.
All stats used are from Pro Football Focus' Premium Stats (subscription required), ESPN.com, CFBStats or NFL.com. All combine and pro day info is courtesy of NFLDraftScout.com. 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.
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