Falcons fans had to be disappointed with the way the season went, especially after starting it 5-0. A six game losing streak highlighted by untimely turnovers, boneheaded penalties and awful line play left Atlanta treading water in the playoff race. The Falcons ultimately ended the season at 8-8, narrowly escaping the title of being the only team finish the season under .500 in which they had a five game win streak. There was a lot of bad, but also a lot of good play from many unexpected players. Let’s take a look.
Matt Ryan (82.8) #8 QB overall- I started with Ryan because there is no doubt he has received the most criticism of any player on the Falcons team. I realize that is going to happen to most quarterbacks on a struggling team, but these numbers show just how ridiculous it is to say the Falcons need to get a new quarterback. Ryan did make some key errors this season and did not put him stellar numbers, but he still threw for 4,500 yards and 21 touchdowns behind one of the worst pass-blocking lines in the league. Ryan is a very good quarterback in the NFL, and top 10 quarterbacks do not grow on trees, just ask Cleveland.
Devonta Freeman (78.9) #16 RB overall- Freeman had a break out year for the Falcons. He led the league in rushing and touchdowns for the first half of the season, and while his numbers went down in the second half he still showed terrific skills as a runner. Freeman is actually tied for 11th in terms of starting running backs in the NFL and graded out terrifically running the ball and even better catching the ball out of the backfield. He took quite a hit as a pass blocker and will continue to improve in that area of his game, but Freeman made a name for himself this season and will be the Falcons running back for years to come. ‘
Patrick DiMarco (83.0) #1 FB overall- How many times did Matt Millen say in the Falcons-Saints broadcast, “Fullbacks are a lost art in the NFL nowadays.” Well do not tell that to Patrick DiMarco, who was far and away the highest rated fullback in the NFL. The next closes was Jalston Fowler at a rating of 72.5. DiMarco excelled in opening up holes for Devonta Freeman and is an alternate for this year’s pro bowl, which I firmly believe he should be a part of.
Julio Jones (96.5) #2 WR overall- JULIO! There is not too much we have to say about this guy. He is absolutely amazing to watch and finished just slightly behind Antonio Brown for the top spot. In my mind Julio is the best receiver in the league. He is a physical freak but he is also one of the best pure route runners in the NFL, and that is the reason he was extremely close to breaking multiple NFL receiving records this year.
Ryan Schraeder (86.8) #7 OT overall- Schraeder has been a diamond in the rough ever since stepping in last season after multiple injuries to the Falcons offensive line. We mentioned prior to the season that Schraeder could be in for a breakout year this season and he did just that. He was a bright spot on and otherwise poor offensive line in terms of pass blocking.
Desmond Trufant (83.3) #18 CB overall- Trufant is the Falcons premier cornerback and has been terrific ever since the Falcons drafted him. He did not have a necessarily spectacular season by his standards, but was still the best cornerback on the field for Atlanta all season long.
Roddy White (60.8) #83 WR overall- White was finally able to stay healthy for a full season, unfortunately, he is just not the same receiver he once was. If White is cut before next season, the Falcons will save about 3 million dollars in cap space. It would not be the happiest of days, but Atlanta needs to start thinking about the business side of things and perhaps let White spend the rest of his career elsewhere.
Mike Person (56.2) #23 C overall- Person saw the majority of the snaps at center for the Falcons this season and struggled for the most part. He graded out decently as a pass blocker, but was miserable against the run with a rating of (42.8)
Jalen Collins (43.0) #104 CB overall- Collins saw over 200 snaps in his rookie season. I was a little surprised he saw this type of action in his first year because I though he was extremely raw coming out of college. Collins has the physical tools to succeed, but struggled a lot in his time at LSU and did not see much success in his rookie campaign. He was dreadful in coverage and definitely will need to improve if he wants to continue to play in the NFL.
William Moore (61.1) #69 S overall- Moore has been in a Falcons uniform for quite a while since being drafted out of Missouri. He has always been on of the best safeties against the run, but continues to struggle in pass coverage. Like White, Moore is a veteran with two years remaining on his deal and could be a candidate to be cut prior to next season.
Paul Worrilow (40.4) #75 LB overall- Worrilow has been a nice story for the Falcons. After being undrafted coming out of college, Worrilow worked his way up to being the starting middle linebacker for the Falcons. He has shown to be a tackling machine, but still struggles mightily in pass coverage and a lot of those tackles come well behind the line of scrimmage. He is an restricted free agent this offseason, and the Falcons should really make upgrading their linebacking core a top priority.
Justin Durant (54.2) #59 LB overall- The Falcons signed Durant to a three-year deal this offseason after tearing his biceps in the 2014 season for the Cowboys. Durant struggled with nagging injuries again this season, but was nothing special when he was on the field anyways. He saw the second-most snaps of the Falcons linebackers, and like I said previously, Atlanta should really focus on upgrading their linebacking core this offseason.
Kroy Biermann (58.4) #80 Edge Defender overall- Biermann has been another guy Falcons fans love to hate. He is nothing special as a pass rusher, but actually graded out really well as a rush defender at (87.6). However, Atlanta is starving for guys who can get after the quarterback, and Bierman is clearly not that. I doubt Bierman is in a Falcons uniform to start next season.