Following the signing of Laquon Treadwell a couple of days ago, the Falcons now have the opportunity to become the first offense ever to feature 11 first-round picks as starters.
Here’s a look at the potential lineup
Jake Matthews (LT)
James Carpenter (LG)
Alex Mack (C)
Chris Lindstrom (RG)
Kaleb McGary (RT)
Hayden Hurst (TE)
Matt Ryan (QB)
Todd Gurley (RB)
Julio Jones (WR)
Calvin Ridley (WR)
Laquon Treadwell (WR)
Most of those positions are set in stone, providing there are no unforeseen injuries before the season. However, a couple are still up for grabs. James Carpenter will have to compete for the job at left guard with Jamon Brown, Matt Gono, and the newly signed Justin McCray, but for now, Carpenter is a slight favorite. The same cannot be said for Treadwell, who has done nothing but underachieve since being drafted by the Minnesota Vikings.
In his rookie season, the Ole Miss product only received three TARGETS in nine games, resulting in one reception for a measly nine yards. He was a little better in the three years after that, but even in his best season (2018), he only caught 35 balls for 302 yards and one touchdown. Last year, Treadwell had nine receptions for 184 yards and a touchdown. There’s no disputing his talent, and given his upside, the Falcons were smart to give him a chance, but he has a long way to go to take the starting job from Russell Gage, who has done nothing but overachieve since being selected in the sixth round two years ago.
As a rookie, Gage served primarily as a special teams standout, but even then, he still outperformed Treadwell’s rookie numbers, catching six balls for 63 yards. But in 2019, he became much more of a fixture in the Falcons offense. Gage was a training camp standout, and after the trade of Mohamed Sanu, he became the team’s third wide receiver and was arguably even more effective than Sanu, hauling in 49 receptions for 446 yards and a touchdown.
Treadwell is going to be given every opportunity to make this team and has the talent to do so, but to think he’s going to surpass Gage for the WR3 spot is foolish based on their body of work. This is Gage’s job to lose, and I expect him to be a crucial figure in Atlanta’s offense in 2020.