The Atlanta Falcons have one of the most talented teams in the NFL right now. Last season was historic for the franchise, even taking a trip to the Super Bowl. Here are 5 Falcons to watch for this season.
5. Grady Jarrett
Grady Jarrett had a decent season last year, ending the season with 48 tackles and 3 sacks in the regular season and 3 in the Super Bowl. The thing is, he’s just getting use to it. Jarrett should have a breakout year this season. Grady was looking great in the team’s OTA’s. Head Coach Dan Quinn said that he “totally jumped out” to the coaches.
“That was definitely a highlight of my career as far as the way I player,” Jarrett said of his Super Bowl performance. “I feel like the effort I gave on that day was because I wanted that win so badly. It just makes me want even more for this team and this city.” Quinn noticed the work Jarrett has put in this offseason, tabbing him as player who has “totally jumped out” to the coaching staff the past two months.
4. Justin Hardy
This Wide Receiver is definitely a secret weapon, hauling in 203 yards and 4 touchdowns last season. Last season, the Falcons were stacked with wide receivers, but two of them have been released to hit the Free Agency, Aldrick Robinson and Eric Weems. This should allow Hardy to eventually get more reps. Just like Jarrett, Justin should have a breakout year as expected.
3. Brian Poole
This undrafted free agent is deemed for an outstanding season. Yes, you read that right. Undrafted free agent. Poole had an unexpectedly good season last year, coming down with 1 interception and 1 sack, along with 59 tackles. Not bad for an undrafted free agent, right? And did you see those hits on Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers? Brutal. Yes, he should take it up a notch this season.
2. Takkarist McKinley
Sure, this guy is a rookie, and we have yet to see his action in the NFL, but you’ve got to give him props for having an incredible story of getting to the NFL and let’s not forget his astounding years at UCLA. Likewise, McKinley should help with Atlanta’s young and solid defense. Takk will definitely make an impact in his rookie season.
1. Duke Riley
Yet another rookie on this potential- filled list. Riley, coming off a solid year at LSU, is one of those linebackers who are under-looked, which you should never under-look a player because you do not know what they are capable of. Sure, we don’t know what Duke and McKinley are capable of, but the bar is set high. Atlanta has big expectations for him and his defensive talents. He is even getting high praises from teammate De’Vondre Campbell. The Falcons addressed defense the most during the draft early on, both Takkarist McKinley and Duke Riley are products of these impressive picks. The future is bright for Duke Riley and his teammates depicted on this list. The entire Atlanta defense is young and fulfilled with a promising road ahead of them.