Terry Fontenot has made it clear that he intends to approach the draft with the best player available strategy, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone if the Falcons take a player at a position that isn’t necessarily a need. I wrote about some differences between Fontenot and former general manager Thomas Dimitroff, in which I said this.
“… Terry Fontenot will go and get his “guy” regardless of position — even if it comes in unconventional ways. The Falcons drafted Calvin Ridley when no fan expected a wide receiver, but in hindsight, it was a fantastic move. Dimitroff followed it up by trading Sanu away for a second-round pick right before his play diminished.”
When Dimitroff selected Calvin Ridley, it was initially thought of as overkill, given the skill players the Falcons already had, but it worked out perfectly. Well, I think I can make a similar case for taking Terrace Marshall Jr.
It would be a disservice not to acknowledge Terrace Marshall as a threat in the red zone. Over his final two seasons in Baton Rouge, he became as dominant of a red zone threat as any other receiver, recording 23 touchdowns in 19 games. Marshall hauled in 94 receptions in those final two years, meaning that just about every fourth catch of his collegiate career was going for a touchdown.
However, Marshall isn’t just some big-bodied receiver who only threatens defenses inside the red zone. He is a versatile piece that has been successful in the slot and out wide. His impressive size is joined with physicality and impressive route-running ability. This isn’t it, though. He has great hands, ball skills, run after the catch ability, and alignment versatility. His most impressive skill is his contested catch ability; he looks like Calvin Johnson or Randy Moss out-jumping defenders when the ball is at it’s peak. He also thrived in 2020 with three different quarterbacks — two being freshmen — after many thought he was a product of the 2019 LSU offense.
TERRACE MARSHALL GET UP!
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) January 14, 2020
In many cases, Terrace Marshall was asked to block from the slot. This comes with blocking linebackers and safeties. He struggled in this area. Marshall also had some catching issues in 2019, but it quickly faded. The only knock is the blocking that I have seen, which shouldn’t keep him from going in the first round, but it looks like it will. This is from Scott Gorman.
Marshall Jr. has a nice frame for a big receiver, but he needs to learn to be more physical in the running game. If he can improve as a run blocker, that all-around game will allow him to become a full-time player for an NFL team.
I mean, what… Get out of here! Look at how soft he is below.
Arik Gilbert and Terrace Marshall are LSU's leading receivers.
Nice when your top pass catchers block like this, too. pic.twitter.com/qWmRirSCCj
— Cody Worsham (@CodyWorsham) October 26, 2020
It really doesn’t matter what team selects Terrace Marshall; he can play in any system. He could line up opposite of Calvin Ridley, either in the slot or boundary. Give it one season — maybe until midseason — and the Falcons could move on from Julio in the same way Dimitroff moved on from Sanu.
If Terrace Marshall falls to the second round, Terry Fontenot — if practicing what he’s been preaching — could find excellent value. In an offense like Arthur Smith’s, Marshall would thrive.
Photo: John Korduner/Icon Sportswire
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