Falcons undrafted receiver surprise of the season thus far

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With three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Falcons and Browns were tied, with Atlanta pinned deep in their own territory. After a run that failed to gain yards on first down, Marcus Mariota dropped back to pass as the Cleveland pass rush pinned their ears back. Using his mobility, the veteran quarterback extended the play to find a wide-open Olamide Zacchaeus for a 42-yard completion.


The chunk play moved Atlanta’s offense into Cleveland’s territory, and an untimely facemask penalty at the end of the play wound up adding another 15 yards, which would set up the go-ahead 45-yard field goal from Younghoe Koo to give the Falcons the lead.

Zaccheaus finished the day with just two catches for 55 yards, but Mariota only completed seven passes the whole game. The undrafted receiver out of Virginia has quickly become a reliable target for the veteran signal caller and might be one of the bigger surprises for the Falcons this season.

OZ’s season totals are now up to 174 yards on 10 receptions, including one score — an average of 17.4 yards per catch. Moreover, Mariota has a near-perfect passer rating when targeting Zaccheaus this season — 10 completions on 10 targets, a 152.1 passer rating. 70% of Zaccheaus’s receptions have gone for first downs.

With a receiving core of Kyle Pitts and Drake London, the shifty slot wideout can sometimes be lost in the noise. Reminiscent of Taylor Gabriel, Zaccheaus gives the Falcons offense a different type of pass catcher compared to the physical specimens that are Pitts and London. After being brought back to Atlanta on a one-year deal this offseason, the undrafted free agent has shown an ability to be a fantastic supplemental piece for Atlanta’s passing attack.

Photographer: John Adams/Icon Sportswire
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