Roster Analysis: Part II

d2_lead

So, we continue on with our yearly dissection of our Falcons roster. I know Part I-Quarterbacks, wasn’t much to chew on, but it gave us a base topic to discuss for a few minutes. I’m afraid the next section won’t give that much more in the way of discussions, or will it? Have patience my fellow ‘Cagers”, the juicy stuff is coming. I was originally going to post this next part with the QB’s, but I felt it went a little long. So, without further adieu, I give you…..

Part II – Runningbacks and Fullbacks

by Dewey

Runningbacks

-Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, Terron Ward, Gus Johnson

d2_freemanDevonta Freeman-under contract through 2017 season, $721,106 cap charge

Cut pre 6/1-$242,212 dead money, $478,894 cap savings

Cut post 6/1-$121,106 dead money, $600,000 cap savings

Trade-same as cut pre 6/1

Devonta gave us a reason to talk this season. Passionate running, good receiving, strong, quick cuts like we haven’t seen around here in quite some time. Good receiver out of the backfield with the exception of a few drops where he was trying to run before he caught the ball. This is something I’m sure can and will be fixed headed into next season. Did have a couple of fumbles, which in and of itself aren’t a huge problem. But like many of the Falcons turnovers this year, they were generally untimely. If not for Shanahan’s mid-season brain fart where we completely abandoned the running game, and a couple of minor injuries that saw him start the season as the #2, and a mid season concussion, Freeman could have had an even bigger year. There’s no doubt Freeman can be a productive back for the Falcons for a long time. See SW, I told you he could do it. And you had your doubts. Shame on you.(fun).

d2_colemanTevin Coleman-under contract through 2018 season, $753,811 cap charge

Cut pre 6/1-$558,933 dead money, $194,878 cap savings

Cut post 6/1-$186,311 dead money, $567,500 cap savings

Trade-same as pre 6/1

Lots of talent, lots to learn. There is no doubt Tevin has ability. Faster than Freeman, though not as quick. Bigger than Freeman, but doesn’t seem to run with as much power. Needs to learn how to carry and hold onto the ball. Started the season as the #1 RB, mainly due to a hamstring injury to Devonta. Looked really good in games #1 and #2. But then Tevin got injured himself and Freeman exploded. When Tevin did get back on the field, he had trouble holding onto the ball. Then he knocked himself out in the shower and missed the final 2 games under the concussion protocol. We never really got to see what Tevin could do as a receiver, after hearing about it all through mini-camp and summer workouts. Tevin should be even better in year#2, and maybe we’ll get to see more of that 1-2 punch we were told about, rather than a 1 and then 2-3 carries for the other guy. Holding on to the ball would go a long way toward that.

d2_wardTerron Ward-under contract through 2017 season, $525,333 cap charge

Cut pre 6/1-$667 dead money, $524,666 cap savings

Cut post 6/1-$333 dead money, $525,000 cap savings

Trade-same as cut pre 6/1

What was their not to like about Ward? Anytime an UDFA can make a 53 man roster and dress out and contribute during games, you know you have a football player. From the moment he laid out Vic Beasley during training camp all eyes were focused on what else could this guy do?(though as it would turn out, blocking Vic Beasley early on wasn’t all that difficult). He has a running style that fits our spread running attack, has decent hands out of the backfield and currently is the best blocking RB we have on our roster. After a full season in our system, Ward should only become more valuable.

d2_johnsonGus Johnson-futures contract, details unknown at this time.

I have to admit, when we originally signed Gus to the practice squad, I had to google him to find out what he was about, and I was so impressed, I had to google him again to write this bit. He played his college ball at Stephen F Austin where he was the 2014 conference player of the year. He’s got good size at 5’10”, 215lbs. And he’s strong, as he did 26 reps of 225lbs at last season’s scouting combine. But he is slower than you’d generally like. He was signed by the Cowboys as an UDFA last season and led the Cowboys in rushing during the pre-season. Might be looked at as short yardage back, though from what I’ve read, he’s more of a tough, keep your legs churning runner than a pile mover. Also, doesn’t appear to offer much in the way of receptions out of the backfield or protecting the QB. But we shall see.

Analysis: We certainly got our money’s worth out of our RB’s last season. After spending $4 million a year on a washed up Steven Jackson, we got triple the return out of Devonta, Tevin and Ward, while spending less than $2 million total on the 3 of them. All are young, cheap, under contract for at least 2 more seasons, and should only improve with time. With the right pieces around them, our running game, which has long been a weak spot of our Falcons, could become the team’s strength.

My Conclusion: Freeman’s good, there’s no doubt about that. The jury is still out on Tevin as injuries and inconsistent handling of the ball led to limited opportunities. Terron Ward is my wild card here. With Devonta and Tevin, we were supposed to have this 1-2 backfield punch that would keep both backs fresh all game and all season without having to change up our offensive play calling one bit. But that never materialized, and Devonta proved he could carry 15-20 times a game along with 4-5 catches a game. Now I’m not so sure there is anything Tevin can do to change the type of rotation we saw towards the back half of the year. Terron Ward to me is a more than adequate back up if we keep the end of the season status quo. We don’t need 2 starting caliber backs when we have so many holes on this team. Yes, I know, what if Freeman gets injured? After we get a strong 22, we can worry about the next 22. Having a strong backup RB is a luxury item that we might not be able to afford right now. Tevin was a 3rd round pick, doesn’t have many miles on him, and has a skill set that coaches look for, and is currently a bargain cap wise. One season with a couple of untimely fumbles isn’t going to scare anybody off. However, if he has another season like this, and we decide we can’t use him, we probably won’t be able to get anything for him either. And let me throw this out there, if Tevin is all that, and he gets his fumblitis under control, would you look to move Freeman, who is just as young and inexpensive, but now has a Pro Bowl season under his belt? You could gain a lot more in return for Freeman than you could Coleman. Like I said, way too many holes not to be looking under every rock to make the TEAM better. I would absolutely be shopping Tevin, and if I believed Tevin could carry the load, I would be shopping Freeman. Personally here, I would keep Freeeman(known), unload Tevin(unknown) for the right price, I wouldn’t just give him away, and have Ward as my #1 backup. Trading Tevin, I would look to bring in at least 2 more backs, either through FA or UDFA. We don’t need to waste a draft pick here unless something is available with our 7th rounder. And I would look for a big back that can move the pile when we need it moved.

Prediction: There’s no way the gutless wonders that are the Falcons FO look to move either Devonta or Tevin. I expect us to sign a couple UDFA’s, have them in camp as bodies, and go into 2016 with the same 3 RB’s as we had in 2015. Which isn’t a bad thing.

Fullbacks

Patrick DiMarco, Collin Mooney

d2_dimarcoPatrick DiMarco-under contract through 2016 season, $797,500 cap charge

cut pre 6/1-$37,500 dead money, $760,000 cap space

cut post 6/1-same

Trade-same

What a difference a year makes!!! Last season everyone talked about what a waste it was having this guy around. New season, new scheme, BAM!! Which is the sound most defenders heard when DiMarco laid the wood on them. Offers nothing as far as carrying the ball, but proved to be an adequate receiver out of the back field. His biggest asset, however, is his run blocking ability. Doesn’t get to show much of his pass blocking ability as we usually pass out of one back set. If not for the mid season losing streak and abandonment of the running game, DiMarco might have been a Pro Bowler this season.

d2_mooneyCollin Mooney-under contract through 2016, $525,000 cap charge

cut pre 6/1-$0 dead money, $525,000 cap savings

cut post 6/1-same

trade-same

This guy was the flavor of the month during pre-season. His ability to catch and run with the ball had us all thinking of what life would be like without DiMarco. Then Mooney got injured in the last pre-season game. Put on IR, season gone. We liked what we saw out of him, and I’m sure his play and presence had a lot to do with DiMarco’s improved play.

Analysis: All’s good! Nothing to see here! Move along please! In all seriousness, this is one position on the Falcons we don’t have to worry about. Whether it’s DiMarco or Mooney, we should be in good shape.

My Conclusion: I said last year, that even though DiMarco didn’t offer much, he was the best we had and I was fine with him for another season. Well, different year, nothing’s changed. I’m perfectly happy with DiMarco as our lead back and wouldn’t change a thing. I like Mooney too, and if there’s a way to keep both on the 53, then I do it. We’ve seen in the past what can happen if you only have 1 FB on your team and he goes down with an injury. The FB position is becoming more and more a thing of the past, and I wish it weren’t. Some of my favorite players were FB’s. William Andrews, Larry Csonka, Andra Franklin to name a few. Anyway, both will be in the last year of their contracts, but this isn’t a position where you need to draft the “next in line” for the future.

Prediction: Falcons stand pat here. Maybe bring in an UDFA for more camp bodies and who knows what you’ll find. But they will be plenty happy going into next season with DiMarco and/or Mooney.

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197 thoughts on “Roster Analysis: Part II

  1. Flo-Ri-Duh

    The guy I’m most impressed with on the field tonight? Mitch Hyatt (OT) true freshman, going up against a 1st Rd draft choice, has dominated him all night long. This kid is a possible future #1 pick in the draft. From Georgia, he’s one that got away.

    Reply
  2. Flo-Ri-Duh

    Kenyan Drake – Kick off return – TD! Another from Georgia that got away. Maybe Kirby Smart can end the bleeding and shut down the recruiting borders. He’s known to be a great recruiter. That was one fantastic, amazing run an one gutsy earlier for Saban to go for the on-side kick.

    Deshawn Watson time now…. Bama’s coming for him.

    Reply
      1. Flo-Ri-Duh

        falcon21 _ I’m not asking for them all but letting the #1 rated OT in the nation get away is inexcusable. Hopefully, with the new regime that won’t happen again.

        Reply
  3. Flo-Ri-Duh

    Roger Lewis (WR), Bowling Green, 6’0″ 200 lb, 4.42 40 [2015: 85 receptions, 1,554 yds, 16 TD’s] just declared for the 2016 draft. Second in the nation in receiving yards (110.3 per game), 1st team All-Mac Conference both years he played, a 3rd Team All-American, Described by scouts as a “receiving magnet” and he can fly. One more for consideration but rather controversial. Charged with two counts of rape in high school. He was found not guilty on one count and the second was resolved with a plea bargain. Played 2 years for a prep school in North Carolina and 2 years at Bowling Green where he never missed a game. Once listed as the #2 high school player in Ohio by a composite recruiting ranking. There were no other reported violations or controversies over the past four years. Considered a 3rd Rd prospect if not for his controversy (si.com) – if he slides to the 7th Rd due to controversy do you take a chance on him?

    Reply
  4. Flo-Ri-Duh

    Clemson played one HELL of a game – took it to Bama. Kirby Smart’s “D” was taken to school. Special teams is where Bama won this game. A kick return for a TD and a recovered on side kick with the game on the line was the difference. I do believe that Jeremy Pruitt’s UGA defense could have done just as well against Clemson. I’m excited by Kirby Smart and his recruiting ability but his “D” got whipped tonight – all night long and with a whole bunch of NFL talent.

    Reply
      1. Flo-Ri-Duh

        Wings – Richt doesn’t show the emotion and enthusiasm for the game like Smart. Dfferent personalities. Sometimes though when the game is getting hated you need calm. Though Richt is 55 yrs old he has been coaching college level for around 30 years – probably lost some of his enthusiasm along the way with all the long hours and pressure involved.

        Smart is known as a great recruiter and even though Richt had top 10 classes much of the time, Saban, Miles and Myer had top 5 classes and a lot of the best players in Georgia went places like Clemson, Aubarn, Bama, Florida, Tennessee – hoping Smart can keep the best withing the borders. If so, he will win – if not it’s going to be a short tenure.

        Reply
        1. Flo-Ri-Duh

          meant game is getting heated – not hated – sorry.

          Did you see that BIG guy Clemson had out there in the middle of the d-line? Must of been 360 lbs – made the Frige like like a Yetti cooler.

          Reply
  5. Flo-Ri-Duh

    Not going out on a limb here by naming Deshaun Watson (QB), Clemson the top candidate for the Heisman in 2016. The kid was even better than I thought with 478 total yards against The Tide.

    Reply
  6. SG

    With regards to “the talent that got away”, this is for you Flo. From 247 Sports, May 6, 2015, some great insight:
    “…..where the NFL draftees are coming from and gain a grasp on what regions and states that are successfully producing NFL prospects…….Traditionally we talk about the big three states in terms of college football talent producers. Recently a fourth state has begun to emerge in Georgia that can challenge those “Big 3″ in terms of top end talent. If the 2015 NFL Draft is any indication, Georgia is already there.

    Right behind Florida with the second most selections in the NFL draft, Georgia had 30 prospects selected. More than both Texas and California who had 27 prospects selected each. Over the last four years we’ve seen the state of Georgia explode with four and five-star talent.”

    bit.ly/1RJcUOb

    Reply
    1. Flo-Ri-Duh

      SG- Every major school in the country recruits in Georgia and I try to keep up with the recruiting class. Signing day is early February and there is no excuse for UGA to not have a top 5 class. Kirby Smart is getting a late start on recruiting but we shall soon see if he lives up to his reputation as a “closer”.

      Was talking college because of the big game – but probably irritates some on here that are “Falcons Only”… so back to the Birds.

      Reply
  7. The Time is NOW

    Dewey – Thanks for taking on this roster evaluation. You are doing an impressive job with it. Great topic, and the articles seem well thought out and well written. Good stuff!

    Thanks to all of you Cagers who have been posting of late. I haven’t had anything to say, but have truly enjoyed reading through all of the comments. TBT, I haven’t watched as much football as I used to over the last couple of years. Basically 1 pro-game and 1 college game per week.
    You guys have become my eyes and ears in that regard. Thanks for doing a good job of it. GO FALCONS!!!!!

    Reply
      1. The Time is NOW

        Thanks SG. Back at you. When we get to a lull, I hope to do a statistical retrospective on 50 years of Falcons QB’s. In the meantime, I’ll enjoy learning about options for improving the Falcons from those of you who have put some time and effort into educating yourselves. I have been enjoying many of your contributions.

        Reply
    1. Dewey

      Thanks for the props Time. Arno has part 3(wide receivers and tight ends) which I assume will be posted some time this week. Working on part 4 (offensive line). Lot to go through, glad you’re enjoying it.

      Reply
  8. Flo-Ri-Duh

    Birds’ Mock Draft XXV: 2016
    #1 Jaylon Smith (OLB), Notre Dame, 6’2″ 235 lb.
    #2 Jeremy Cash (SS), Duke, 6’1″ 210 lb.
    #3 Noah Spence (DE), Eastern Kentucky, 6’3″ 255 lb.
    #4 Christian Westerman (G), Arizona State, 6’4″ 305 lb.
    #7 Kevin Dodd (DE), Clemson, 6’5″ 275 b.
    ………………………………………………………………………………………..
    UFA Signings: (Unrestricted Free Agents)
    #1 Ben Jones (C), Texans, 6’3″ 300 lb.
    #2 Kelechi Osemele (G), Ravens, 6’4″ 330 lb.
    #3 Danny Trevathan (ILB), Broncos, 6’3″ 245 lb.
    …………………………………………………………………………………………
    UFA’s (Undrafted Free Agents):
    Brandon Allen (QB), Arkansas, 6′ 230 lb.
    Dillon Lee (ILB), Alabama, 6’4″ 242 lb.
    D.J. Pettway (DE), Alabama, 6’2″ 270 lb.
    Jake Ganus (ILB), Georgia, 6’2″ 227 lb.
    Christian LaCouture (DT), LSU, 6’5″ 310 lb.
    Adam Gotsis (DT), Ga Tech, 6’5″ 282 lb
    Jeff Driskell (QB), Louisiana Tech, 6’4″ 231 lb.
    Kodi Whitfield (SS), Stanford, 6’2″ 204 lb.
    Doug Middleton (FS), Appalachian State, 6’0″ 210 lb.
    Jamal Golden (FS), Ga. Tech, 6′ 0″ 195 lb.
    Joey Hunt (C), TCU, 6’2″ 298 lb,
    Eric Mac Lain (G), Clemson, 6’4″ 305 lb.
    Clint Van Horn (OT), Marshall, 310 lb.
    Jordan Swindle (OT), Kentucky, 6’7″ 310 lb.
    David Morgan (TE), UTSA, 6’4″ 250 lb.
    Keith Marshall (RB), UGA, 5’11” 212 lb.
    Leon Allen (RB), Western Kentucky, 5′ “11 235 lb.
    Tajae Sharpe (WR), Massachusetts, 6’3″ 200 lb.
    Jordan Williams (WR),Ball State, 6’2″ 225 lb.
    Charone Peak (WR), Clemson, 6’2″ 205 lb.
    Ugonna Awuruonye (DE), Campbell, 6’5″ 260 lb.
    Tracy Howard (CB), Miami, 5’11” 185 lb.
    Lee Hightower (CB), Houston, 6’1″ 195 lb.

    Reply
  9. Grits Blitz

    1. I am not in favor, with all due respect to anybody who differs, of ANY player who has had a serious knee injury being drafted #1 by our elite player-desperate team – regardless of position need. (It smacks loudly of R-E-A-C-H and offers zero encouragement of long-term accomplishment/service by that player from day one.)
    2. Unless D.Q. can acquire a major roster churn & burn and with the more challenging schedule for 2016, I already predict another 8-8 year would be another “good ride” with the challenge this team faces ahead…especially with no genuine G.M. like other top-echelon teams possess.
    3. I predict without a fantastic FA acquisition off-season, the results will again be mediocre as we have minimal draft choices. (Trying to be more realistic than fictional. I already have my season ticket paid for on the MO. RR.) Increasing the odds of acquiring more young, quality players almost necessitates trading down to obtain more draft choices. We appear to be in crap-mode unless the Mighty Quinn insists on serious change. Time will tell all. It already has in a major way…no real G.M.!

    Reply
  10. Grits Blitz

    HOF snub; what a pile of political poop. Mike Kenn got NO love? He was a one of the elite OTs I EVER witnessed and I’ve been watching the NFL since about 1958. (Ask Steve Bartkowski if he ever had a worry about Kenn doing his blindside job!) Guess if you live anywhere other than in Chicago, L.A. or N.Y. markets, your guy’s performance just doesn’t count. Excuse my French, but …KMA.
    In my HOF, Mike Kenn has earned, belongs, and is already there! Total respect for all your body of work, BIg Mike! Imo, we have not have a LOT since to come even close to your studly performances over the years you played. THANK YOU, Mike Kenn!

    Reply

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