The Falcons’ season kicks off on Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks, which should be a fantastic matchup featuring two teams with legitimate Super Bowl aspirations. I may be a fool, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t cautiously optimistic for this year’s Falcons’ squad. Not only do I think these guys will stand out among their teammates, but they could also receive national attention for their individual performances.
This one’s easy. Julio Jones may be the Falcons’ best player, but he’s not nearly as valuable without a quarterback that can put the ball on the money. Matt Ryan is the man that makes the offense tick, and if this team is going to make another deep playoff run, he will have to continue to put up elite numbers at the quarterback position.
Offensive Player of the Year
Since Matt Ryan has already been recognized on this list, the Offensive Player of the Year for the Falcons will be Julio Jones. I thought about going off the grid here and giving it to Calvin Ridley, who I believe is in for a breakout campaign in his third season, but that would just diminish how valuable Julio Jones is to the Falcons. Ridley may turn into a Pro-Bowl-caliber receiver, but he’s not quite in the same class as Jones.
Defensive Player of the Year
Honorable mention must be given to Deion Jones. I also expect big things from Dante Fowler Jr., and so does the coaching staff. However, the heart and soul of Atlanta’s defense is Grady Jarrett. He has improved with each passing season, and the stat sheet will show just how far he has come now that he has some talent surrounding him on the defensive line.
Offensive Rookie of the Year
James Carpenter was listed as the starter on the team’s first depth chart, and Matt Hennessy was the backup. However, Dan Quinn said yesterday he expects both of them to see reps early in the season. I don’t think it will take Hennessy very long to become the full-time starter, making him the only candidate for this award.
Defensive Rookie of the Year
As much as I love Marlon Davidson, A.J. Terrell will be starting from Week 1, and I expect him to be the team’s most reliable cornerback. Given how young this cornerback group is, if he thrives, he could be in the conversation for the league’s Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
Comeback Player of the Year
This one may seem obvious, but it was probably the toughest one to decide. Keanu Neal is coming off back-to-back season-ending injuries. If he can stay healthy and look like his 2017 self, his story could make him the Comeback Player of the Year of the entire league. However, the same can be said for Todd Gurley, who the Rams decided wasn’t even worth rostering after his 2019 campaign. At the end of the day, I just think Gurley will be put in a situation to thrive, and he has too much talent to fail. The only thing that can hold him back is his lingering knee issues.
For the first time in his career, I expect Jarrett to earn a First-Team All-Pro nominee. He is among the most underrated defensive tackles in the league, and with help around him, he’s in for a career-year after being named a Second-Team All-Pro just last year.
If it were up to me, Julio Jones would be a First-Team All-Pro every season. He’s the best receiver in football and is deserving of the nomination each season. However, people like to vote against greatness for some reason, so he will settle for Second-Team honors again.
I also think Deion Jones will have a case to be an All-Pro this season. People seem to have forgotten just how talented this man is. He’s yet to return to his 2017 form since breaking his foot in Week 1 of 2018, but I think he does in 2020 on his way to a Second-Team All-Pro nomination.
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