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Joyce’s Atlanta Falcons Roster Predictions: Wide Recievers

Photo: Keith Allison- https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en

The Atlanta Falcons, along with the rest of the NFL, will have to finalize their 53-Man rosters by Saturday September 5 at 4 p.m. ET. This means that many of the players fighting for a roster spot will be sent home or signed to the practice squad after clearing waivers. In this series, I will do a breakdown of each of the Falcons positions and what they may look like entering the September 5 deadline.

For more content:

Predictions for final cuts: QB [2] | RB [5] | WR [6] | TE [3] | OL [9] | DL [9] | LB [5] | DB [6] | S [4] | SPT [3]

Above you find all the final roster projections for the upcoming final cut to be made on September 5. Here let’s take a look at the Wide Receivers:

The Locks:

Each and every year we all like to find the new best player at each position. Two years ago, the best Quarterback in the league might have been Aaron Rodgers, until Patrick Mahomes came into the equation. It seems like every year the argument for the best Running Back in the league changes so often. But the case for the best Wide Receiver in the game has had a common denominator over the past eight years, that denominator would be Julio Jones. There aren’t many people out there who will deny that Julio Jones is the best overall receiver in the NFL. Jones’ size, speed, and agility set him apart from the field as he can take a slant 70 yards to the house just as easily as Jones can beat you on a fly route. His overall game speaks for itself.

Two years ago, Atlanta had a very nice complementary piece next to Jones in Mohamed Sanu, however two years ago the Falcons jumped at taking another star Alabama wide receiver, Calvin Ridley. Ridley has since taken over the #2 role on the team once Sanu was shipped off to New England last year and apart from an abdominal injury last season, he has performed well. Now in his first full season on the other side of Jones, Ridley will look to dominate on his side of the field. He spoke with the media last month about the upcoming season and the work he has put in. Falcon fans and players have high expectations for the young receiver, but none higher than Ridley himself.

“I should be elite this year,” Ridley said.

Rundown:

Sustained Success: Julio Jones walks into the 2020 season with a career standing of 797 receptions for 12,125 yards and 57 touchdowns in 126 starts. Jones made history this past season by going over the 12,000-yard mark in 125 starts surpassing Hall of Famer Jerry Rice (142) as the fastest player ever to reach the 12,000-yard mark. Not only that, but Jones is also the NFL’s all-time leader in average receiving yards per game at 96.2 yards per game which leads second place Michael Thomas by 8.7 yards per game. The only mark against Jones is his touchdown receptions per year. For a receiver as dominant as Jones, it is strange that he has only had one year in which he eclipsed 10 touchdowns. It’s a weird situation that is hard to explain, but Jones has been great in every other part of the field since he arrived from Alabama in 2011.

Slot Receiver: The battle for the third spot on the list is arguably Russell Gage’s job to lose. The former LSU product really came on last year when Sanu was shipped off and Ridley went down for injury. He took advantage of the new opportunity catching 49 balls for 446 yards and a touchdown. Gage is hoping that strong finish will feed into this season.

New Guy: One of the reasons that made Sanu so good for Atlanta was his ability to muscle defensive backs and play physical. That worked very well with Julio on the other side and even better with Ridley running the slot. With Sanu being gone, Thomas Dimitroff and Dan Quinn took a chance on a similar wide receiver out of Minnesota. Laquon Treadwell was selected in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft out of Ole Miss. He was expected to make a terrifying receiver tandem with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, unfortunately Treadwell struggled with drops and was never the guy many expected him to be in Minnesota. The Atlanta fans and coaching staff are hoping that a fresh start is all Treadwell needs. If he can operate in the similar role that Sanu worked in, this signing may give Atlanta the scariest receiver group in the NFL.

History:

This is the number of receivers the Falcons have kept over the past few seasons:

  • 2017: six receivers
  • 2018: six receivers
  • 2019: six receivers

Guarantees:

Here are the receivers I believe are locks to make the roster:

  • Julio Jones
  • Calvin Ridley
  • Russell Gage

Fighting for a Spot:

  • Olamide Zaccheaus
  • Laquon Treadwell
  • Chris Rowland
  • Devin Gray
  • Brandon Powell
  • Juwan Green
  • Jalen McCleskey

Final Projection:

Dan Quinn has been rather consistent in the number of receivers he chooses to keep on the active roster. With that being said, I believe Atlanta will likely keep six receivers again. Here are my predictions on the guys I believe will make the final cuts:

  • Julio Jones
  • Calvin Ridley
  • Russell Gage
  • Olamide Zaccheaus
  • Chris Rowland
  • Laquon Treadwell

Thoughts:

For those of you unfamiliar with Chris Rowland, the Falcons signed him as an undrafted free agent this year out of Tennessee State. He was brought in with Brandon Powell to battle for the starting kick and punt returner job. According to reports, Dan Quinn said back in April that Brandon Powell was the frontrunner to land the job. However, Rowland has been performing very well and is really challenging to take over that role. Due to his success as a returner in college, I’m actually rolling with Rowland to land the job this season. The returner job is one of the biggest competitions in Falcons camp. On a side note, Mohamed Sanu was just released yesterday from the New England Patriots. The Falcons need to work out some wiggle room to make this possible, however you can bet Dimitroff and Quinn are already discussing the opportunity to bring him back in the fold. The next few days should be interesting to see if Sanu ends up back in Atlanta.

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  1. Pingback: Joyce's Atlanta Falcons Roster Predictions: Running Backs | SkullKing Sports

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