The Atlanta Falcons do not do anything without a reason. Sometimes that reason is "hey, we need to fill a hole and this guy looks like the best option." Other times, it's something that is intended to unfold over time.
Take Brent Grimes. Here was a shorter UDFA cornerback with athleticism but virtually no polish, so the Falcons quietly kept him on the practice squad and then promoted him to the active roster as a reserve. Eventually, he became a Pro Bowl-caliber cornerback for the Falcons before that damn injury derailed him in 2012. That's the definition of a project pick.
Chase Coffman strikes me as that kind of player. A former third round pick, Coffman has never lived up to his potential, bouncing around the NFL until he landed with the Falcons a year ago. He was quiet all year, catching a handful of passes and mostly just practicing with the team and, you know, being Chase Coffman.
The Falcons didn't just pick up and keep Coffman around on a lark, though. This isn't a UDFA or a young player being asked to fill the third role, but a guy with legitimate promise as a pass-catcher who hasn't lived up to his promise. With a strong coaching staff guiding him and some effort being made to correct his weaknesses as a player, Coffman showed well in those limited chances he had. The talent has always been there.
What if that talent translates into production for the first time in Coffman's career in 2013? What if he's part of the solution at tight end?
To be clear, I'm not proposing that Coffman can be a replacement for Gonzalez if he leaves. I'm saying that he could potentially be part of a platoon with a rookie, or get on the field in some two tight end sets. This is not as outlandish as it sounds.
The other current options at tight end include Michael Palmer, who is a well-rounded and perfectly decent reserve tight end, and unknowns like Tommy Gallarda and Andrew Sczerba. Coffman has a real opportunity to step up and seize some playing time, and with the learning curve even the best rookie tight ends have to go through, that might be necessary.
This all goes out the window if Gonzo returns or the Falcons break open their piggy back to sign a Jermichael Finley or Jared Cook, of course. But I do believe Coffman could finally have the kind of year people expected from him back in 2009, or at least half of that.
Do you agree?