That would take two wide receivers right off the depth chart, leaving the team with just Roddy White, Julio Jones and Kerry Meier at the position to start 2012. Oh, and Kevin Cone. Jones and Roddy are elite players and Meier is a quality special teamer and fourth receiver with size who can bounce outside in case of injuries or if the Falcons just want to go with a different look. They still could use a slot receiver, though, and that's where Cone comes in.
The coaching staff is high on Cone, as is evidenced by the fact that they scooped him up as an undrafted free agent, put him on the practice squad and gave him the call-up when injuries struck the team at the end of the season.With minimal college production, he would seem to be an odd choice for the slot, but I'm going to make his case right now.
First of all, Cone has quality speed. He ran about a 4.4 40 yard dash and never had his wheels questioned in college out of Georgia Tech's vaunted triple option, though he didn't catch a ton of passes. What makes him really intriguing as a slot receiver is that speed paired with sure hands further paired with excellent size (6'2", 215 pounds). Putting him inside on a nickel corner seems almost unfair.
Of course, you may be skeptical given his lack of production and the fact that he's one year off of being a UDFA, which I understand. But the Falcons are going to sink some serious money into the offensive and defensive lines this off-season and may need to replace a couple of pieces at linebacker, which isn't going to leave them a ton of money to go after a top-flight slot guy. With Julio, Roddy and Tony Gonzalez dominating the attention of other teams' defenses, putting a high-upside matchup problem at the slot just creates more headaches for those teams. I think all he really needs is a shot.
I'm interested to hear what you think of Cone and why I think he could stick in the slot. Weigh in.