The Falcons haven't had to find a new starting running back very often in the past decade. Warrick Dunn was relied on for several years, along with TJ Duckett contributing to the ground game. Michael Turner stepped in after Dunn and held things down for four straight seasons (he missed a little time in 09, but you get you the point). Now we've received word from Mike Smith that Turner will have a lesser role next season. If Jason Snelling goes, the search for Turner's future replacement will be even more important.
Some fans are calling for Turner' to be traded, and others have stated they just want him released. That's a rather extreme scenario, but we do know at this point he will at least be on a "pitch count" as Mike Smith put it.
The Burner isn't going to last forever, so here are some potential candidates to take over in the wake of No. 33's absence.
David Wilson: We've all seen mock drafts by this point that list Wilson going to the Falcons in Round 2. He might not be available when they're on the clock, and if he is they might not even take him. If Atlanta does decide on Wilson, though, he could be a solid starter for years to come.
Wilson didn't blow anyone away with his 40 time this week, but his vertical, broad jump and shuttle numbers were all very impressive, as he was a top performer in each. Some say he isn't a natural runner, but we at least know his physical tools are all there.
Robert Turbin: Turbin had a ridiculous year for Utah State in 2011. He finished with 1,517 yards and 19 touchdowns on the ground. He has great speed for his size and physically looks like a solid NFL back, but of course there are some downsides.
In 2010 he missed the entire season with a torn ACL, and he also redshirted in 2007 due to a foot injury. It doesn't look like these previous ailments hold him back today, but it's something that scouts will likely be a little concerned about. He ran a 4.50 40 in Indy, but film has shown he doesn't possess break away speed out in the open. Turbin is projected as a fourth or fifth round pick. Maybe he's worth a shot later on.
Chris Polk: I've seen some sites calling Polk a definite first-round pick, and others ranking him in the third. At this point more and more people seem to be jumping on his bandwagon, which leads me to believe he won't be available come Atlanta's turn.
Polk is solid all around. He doesn't amaze you with any one aspect, but every part of his game is sound. The Falcons would be lucky to have him fall to the bottom of Round 2.
If they don't pick up anyone this offseason, here are some more potential newcomers for 2013:
Montee Ball: He was a Heisman finalist this past season and was likely to get drafted in the second or third round this April, but Ball decided he wanted to finish out at Wisconsin. He's going to have more mileage on him by the time he reaches the NFL, but also more experience.
Ball could be Round 1 selection for 2013. Luckily, Atlanta has one of those picks again next year. This is complete speculation, but I sure wouldn't mind having him in our backfield.
Marcus Lattimore: If you watch college football at all, you should know this name. Lattimore missed part of the 2011 season with a nasty knee injury, but he's been reportedly ahead of schedule as far as his recovery timetable goes. He would have to declare for the NFL Draft early, which could be a possibility, and if he does he'll be a top pick for sure.
LeSean McCoy: Here's the most outrageous possibility, one I though would be laughable to even consider. McCoy is set to be a restricted free agent in the 2013 offseason. I can't even imagine the Eagles letting him get away, but hey, we can dream can't we?
There are plenty of other options for the Falcons, these are just a few guys that would be great additions to our franchise. What do you guys think? Who would you like to see take the reigns at RB?