People say that it usually takes 3-4 years to see how a draft class panned out. While we understand that draft picks are investments for the future, in this article we will take a look on how each rookie can impact the team in their rookie season. So we ranked ’em:
7. Akeem King, CB
Barring a ton of injuries, Akeem King likely will not see the field in his rookie season.
6. Jake Rodgers, OT
Like King, Jake Rodgers probably won’t see much playing time in his rookie season. However, we’ve seen crazier things happen in the past few years with the O-line. No disrespect to Rodgers, but if we see him playing this year than the Falcons have likely wasted yet another season due to poor line play.
5. Justin Hardy, WR
Justin Hardy has talent, and definitely has the potential to contribute in his rookie season. With that being said, he may not see the field as much as some expect in 2015. Julio Jones and Roddy White obviously have the number 1 and 2 receiver spots on lock, but after them it comes down to Hardy, Leonard Hankerson, and Devin Hester. I think Hankerson is the most likely player to occupy the third receiver role, as he has a proven track record as a receiver when healthy and has familiarity with Kyle Shanhan’s offense. Devin Hester is better as a returner, but the Falcons are definitely still going to try to give the ball to Hester some in open space. With all this being said, Hardy could very well earn the number 3 spot in his rookie season. Hankerson is injury prone and it’s clear that the Falcons want to use Hester as a returner for the most part. Hardy may be the hardest player to predict on this list.
4. Grady Jarrett, DT
Grady Jarrett may prove to be the biggest steal of the 2015 NFL Draft. However, we may not see him too much in his rookie year. Sure, he has talent, but the Falcons have some depth on the D-Line. I see Jarrett as a nice rotational piece for the Falcons in 2015. I think the return on this investment will pay off big time in year 2 or 3.
3. Jalen Collins, CB
Many, including myself, are not sold on Jalen Collins as the Falcons’ 2nd Round pick. However, Collins will see the field in his rookie season. He will compete with Robert Alford for the number 2 CB spot. Collins is a big bodied corner, and with physical specimens such as Kelvin Benjamin and Mike Evans in the NFC South, Collins could be in for a ton of playing time. Temper your expectations though. Collins couldn’t lock down a starting job at LSU, which is… concerning.
2. Tevin Coleman, RB
Let me start off by saying this. Tevin Coleman has the potential to have the biggest impact of any rookie this season. It’s really all about the workload. Coleman will compete with Devonta Freeman for playing time, and it looks like Atlanta may be dealing with a timeshare in 2015. Kyle Shanahan implemented the Zone Blocking Scheme upon his arrival in Atlanta, a scheme that is known for improved running game results. If the line can hold up and Coleman can establish himself as the starting back, he could run for over 1000 yards as a rookie.
1. Vic Beasley, DE
Repeat after me: the Falcons need to find a way to apply pressure to opposing QBs. With only 22 sacks as a team last season, it’s clear that the pass rush was a huge problem. Opposing QBs had all day to throw on Atlanta’s secondary. With Dan Quinn now at the helm, it did not take him long to address this issue. The Falcons selected Vic Beasley with their 1st Round pick, and he will immediately step into the LEO role, much similar to how Quinn utilized Bruce Irvin in Seattle. Beasley’s final stats line may not be eye popping at the end of his rookie campaign, but these numbers will not do justice as to how much Beasley will help this defense. Who knows, maybe he really can reach double digits sacks. Beasley is a playmaker, and the sky is the limit.