Falcons: Players that need more playing time in the final 4 games

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After another loss to New Orleans, the Falcons don’t have much left to play for. However, I would like to see a few changes going into 2020. You all know I’m leading the fire Dirk Koetter charge and have been for a while, so i’ll be omitting the obvious here along with any other coaching changes. I doubt the coaching staff is going to waive the white flag while they’re trying to audition, but please — just do it for our sake.

 

Get Ito Smith more involved

I recently suggested drafting Najee Harris in my most recent mock draft, and I think running back will be a need if Ito Smith shows more flashes or not. I’m over Todd Gurley. Dirk Koetter is the problem, but he’s made two horrific plays in the Red Zone that proved costly. He’s on a one year deal, and while it was a cool story — he can walk. Brian Hill ranks 66th out of 68 qualified RBs by PFF and his pass pro is horrific. He offers next to nothing coming out of the backfield. He’s fine as a third back, but there’s almost no excuse for Ito Smith to only have 33 carries this season. After averaging 4.8 YPC last season, he all but disappeared in 2020. He’s yet to have a huge game rushing for Atlanta (mostly because Dirk Koetter is allergic to planning an effective run game) but he still has potential. You need to know what you have with Ito before the season is over, if not — Running Back may need to be double drafted in 2021. Atlanta is so much better when they have a two headed monster in the backfield with a coach who knows how to use them.

 

Unleash Marlon Davidson, John Cominsky, and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner

I understand Davidson has had issues with COVID and other problems, but with almost every position on the defense being a need — it’s time to see what he can do. I’m not advocating benching Grady Jarrett by any means, but Davidson needs more than 108 snaps over 6 games. He should be on the field for most of the final 4 games. If the team moves to a 3-4/4-3 under like I’ve been begging for, Jarrett and Davidson can make a lot of noise shifting all over the line.

Ditto for Cominsky. He hasn’t broken out like we had hoped, but he’s had some moments in 2020. His snaps have decreased substantially since seeing 64% against Seattle in Week 1. He’s notched 3 TFLs, 2 QB Hits, a Sack, and recovered a fumble in 9 games.

Tuioti-Mariner dominated the Raiders, and letting him pin his ears back and rush the passer could provide another high upside piece for the future, especially with his free agency coming up.

Edge & DL was a massive need even before Takk McKinley’s antics got him cut and Dante Fowler Jr.’s inaugural season flop. With Atlanta’s linebacker trio playing so well, sorting out the defensive line before the draft would be invaluable if one of these two guys shines in the next few weeks. Grady Jarrett is the only non-replaceable piece as it stands. Who cares at this point, let these guys run loose and send some pressure. What’s the worst that could happen now?

 

Activate Chris Rowland

Rowland seems like folklore at this point, but the 2020 UDFA out of Tennessee State deserves a chance this year. Rowland has yet to play, but he has speed to burn running a 4.44 at 5’8. Regardless if he gets looks at WR where we’ve seen guys like Olamide Zaccheaus and Russell Gage shine, Rowland should at least get a chance to return kicks and see how he looks. Maybe an enticing new toy for Eric Bieniemy, who loves his speedsters on gadget plays.

 

Give Matt Hennessy reps at Center

Matt Hennessy has gotten absolutely tortured at guard in Pass Pro. His 25.1 grade is stomach churning. A move to Center would be welcome for him. I’m not sure if Javon Alex Mack will retire, but he probably won’t be back with the Falcons considering money will be tight. Mack deserves a shot with a contender anyways, he’s one of the best FA signings in team history. I’m not saying sit him for the last 4 games, but drafting another interior OL will be pivotal with James Carpenter likely being a cap casualty. If Hennessy can show some chops at center, the team can take a bit of a sigh of relief. He won’t play at guard.

 

Get Jaeden Graham & Jared Pinkney some targets

Nothing wrong with Hayden Hurst, but I’ve talked about how frustrating Dirk Koetter’s love of throwing to Luke Stocker is. He’s a free agent anyways.

Jaeden Graham averaged a nutty 16.6 YPC last year, and he could develop into a real vertical threat. He has FOUR targets in 2020, which is ridiculous. He had some huge downfield catches in 2019 and played well against New Orleans with 4/41 and a score. His absence from this offense is probably the most frustrating.

Jared Pinkney still hasn’t played, but he was one of my favorite UDFA signings. From Alex’s piece when he signed:

Pinkney has all the upside in the world, considering how highly touted he was as a prospect after his junior season. He already possesses the physical ability to threaten the middle of the field and will make his bread attacking the seam and working across the hashes. At 6’4” and 260 lbs., Pinkney is better suited as an H-back instead of a traditional in-line tight end. This is in part due to his inability to help block in-line, but he can handle move-blocking in space.

He ran a 4.98 at the combine. I’m done watching Luke Stocker. Let these two guys get some shine, or Tight End will be another draft need with little money to spend and a very top heavy class at th position.

 

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