We all know 2008 was the year of Matt Ryan. Once could argue that 2009 was the year that Lofton really started taking over the defense. Last year, Grimes stepped up huge and earned a Pro-Bowl berth. With all of that said, which Falcons player will breakout in 2011? This list is looking for players who haven't previously had good seasons. Here are some ideas:
Dominique Franks - He's wicked fast, and the competition to take the nickel back spot appears to be extremely close. This guy showed some great flashes in the pre-season last year and in his limited time in the regular season, showed that he has all the physical skills to make it.
Sean Weatherspoon - Hampered by injuries last year, 'Spoon never quite came into his own. The word on this guy is that he can close gaps fast, is a mack truck of a hitter and has a motor that won't quit (and a mouth to accompany it). If he stays healthy, he could be a monster.
Harry Douglas - I'm a little partial here, since I also went to Jonesboro HS, but Douglas has been slowed down by an ACL tear in the 2009 season. This will be his first season at 100% since his rookie year, and if he can get that explosive first step back, he could be a sleeper breakout player - especially with the attention being paid to Roddy, Tony and Julio.
Julio Jones - It's tough to make an impact as a rookie WR. Few have done it. But the word on this kid is he may just be one of the few who does, and if so, Ryan could be on tap for a career season. He was the size, the speed and the hands to be the "explosive" player everyone is hoping for. The only question is whether he can learn the NFL game fast enough.
These are my thoughts - what do you think?