The battle for the WR3 position features two primary suitors — Russell Gage, a former 6th round pick, and Laquon Treadwell, a former first-round selection. They will compete for the job as the slot receiver behind Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, but another name to keep an eye on is Olamide Zaccheaus.
Russell Gage (#83)
Russell Gage was drafted in 2018 primarily as a special teams prospect. He stands at 6 feet tall and 184 pounds, an ideal size for a slot receiver, but he actually played cornerback at LSU until he was a junior, which has contributed to his quickness, physicality, and explosive playmaking.
Matt Ryan first expressed confidence in Gage after the 2019 preseason, and when Mohamed Sanu was dealt midseason, it was Gage’s turn to shine. He only ended up starting four games but still managed to haul in 49 receptions for 446 yards and a touchdown. Those 446 yards receiving were more than Gage had in his entire career at LSU, speaking to his development and potential that the Falcons coaches have raved about. He also had the second-highest blocking rating on the team behind only Julio Jones. All of this suggests he’s the heir to the WR3 role, but the signing of Laquon Treadwell should push him in the preseason.
Laquon Treadwell (#80)
Laquon Treadwell — once considered an elite wide receiver prospect — is now fighting for his NFL career after signing a one year deal with the Atlanta Falcons (910k). Treadwell has underwhelmed since joining the Vikings after being selected 23rd overall, and it has worsened by the year. In 2019, he was only targeted 16 times, catching nine passes for 184 yards. The Ole Miss alum was drafted in 2016 and has only managed to rack up 701 total yards on 65 receptions with two touchdowns. The size, attributes, and talent are all there, but he hasn’t been able to put it all together. Maybe with an upgrade at quarterback, Treadwell will finally have a breakout season, but I would temper my expectations.
Olamide Zaccheaus (#17)
Olamide Zaccheaus is my sleeper pick to take over the WR3 position. It’s a longshot, but he is very quick, making him slot capable. We only had the opportunity to witness him play a few times in 2019, but he did have the longest touchdown of the NFL season — a 93-yard bomb down the middle of the field against the Carolina Panthers. His size is a little concerning, standing at only 5’8″, but his explosiveness and playmaking ability are undeniable. Even if Zaccheaus doesn’t win the WR3 position, he should have a guaranteed roster spot as the team’s return specialist.