Falcons Wide Receiver Review: The Dreaded I-Word

Kevin C. Cox

No doubt the 2013 season was a lost one, but the WR corps looks to be a continued bright spot in 2014.

To be 100% honest here, I wanted to make a video for this post, but I'm starting to get sick so I was unable to muster the energy to do it. I'm also copying Alec's formatting from his RB post. Seemed like a good idea.

Instead, we're going to play the Falcoholic Game Show!

Name the two Falcons who had the highest yards per catch! (Without looking, you cheaters.)

If you guessed Drew Davis as the highest, you win!

But I already know you won't guess the second highest in one try so don't bother. (It's Bradie Ewing, surprisingly, but he only had 2 receptions. Joke's on all of you)

The wide receiver spot was a spot of both colossal disappointment and hope for the future, but that hope lays squarely on the shoulders of Julio Jones's health. The Falcons can and have gotten it done without him, but they will not reach the Lombardi if he goes out again. We cannot afford to lose Julio now that Gonzo is gone.

Case in point:

Two receivers graded positively according to PFF. Guess the two.

One, of course, was Julio (7.9 in 5 games). That grade in 5 games is insanity folks.

The other?

Drew Davis (4.8) BUT it was due to his blocking, so he doesn't really count.

The Roster

The Falcons, as they stand now, have these wide receivers:

  1. Julio Jones (7.9) - 41 Rec, 580 Yds, 2 TD
  2. Roddy White (-3.0) - 63 Rec, 711 Yds, 3 TD
  3. Harry Douglas (-1.1) - 85 Rec, 1067 Yds, 2 TD
  4. Drew Davis (4.8) - 12 Rec, 216 Yds, 2 TD
  5. Darius Johnson (-5.4) - 22 Rec, 210 Yds, 1 TD
  6. Kevin Cone (0.5) - 1 Rec, 12 Yds
The roster, when healthy, is as good as any in the league. Julio is easily in the top echelon of receivers. You could even make the argument that he was the best receiver in the league until he was injured.

He did have the highest yards per route run in the league prior to his injury. He was on pace to reach somewhere in the neighborhood of 1900 yards receiving. This is, of course, with the same crap O-line that we fielded all year. Imagine if he had time to run around!

Injuries

This position, sadly, suffered as much bad luck from injuries as any from the Falcons team. Julio was on pace to have a great season and Roddy has always been a model of toughness and consistency.

A freak injury and a mismanaged high ankle sprain shut down both of those receivers and really hurt our chances of overcoming the team's shortcomings.

Julio played in only 5 games and, while Roddy only technically missed two, he was only effective for maybe 4-5 games, tops. That, combined with the fact that neither of those two were effective at the same time, spelled bad news for the Falcons.

Best Game

Considering Matty's best PFF game was against New England, I thought that would be the game of choice. Turns out no receiver did well that game.

Julio's best game was against Miami, but no other receiver did well that game according to PFF.

SO, my choice is Harry Douglas's game against the Bucs. Actually, both of them were good games, but the first one was excellent. His line in that one was 7/149/1. That's about as good as it got for the receivers. Roddy's game against the 49ers was pretty good too (12/141/1). Can't go wrong with either.

Just kidding. Julio went for 11/182/1 against the Rams. I knew not looking him up was a mistake. He is so damn good it's ridiculous.

Worst Game

The worst game was probably the game at Seattle. There's no real individual effort that caused this to be the worst game, but it was Matty's worst passing game and there wasn't a receiver over 50 yards. Nothing else to say there. We went to Seattle and got our tails beaten.

Best Moment

Long Julio touchdown? Long Julio touchdown.

That TD was actually really awesome. And to think, we were 1-1 after that game. I can't wait until next season.

Worst Moment

You know what play this is. Don't watch it, trust me.

Players Under Contract

  1. Julio Jones - 2014, 5.1M - 2015, FA
  2. Roddy White - 2014, 6.3M - 2015, FA
  3. Harry Douglas - 2014, 3.6M - 2015, 4.4M - 2016, FA
  4. Drew Davis - 2014, 570K - 2015, RFA
  5. Darius Johnson - 2014, 495K - 2015, ERFA
Kevin Cone is a free agent going into this offseason. He's been a damn good Falcon, but I think we've seen the last of him in a Falcons uniform.

Roster Changes

As I said, Kevin Cone is likely gone. The other 5 receivers mentioned are all available for the 2014 season. I expect all 5 of them to return, especially when you consider that two of them are making the minimum. 3.6M is a fair cap hit for HD. A 1000 yard season is nothing to scoff at. He stepped up well enough in Roddy and Julio's absence.

The Falcons might bring in a warm body (Kain Colter is a reader favorite) to compete, but I don't expect anyone new to stick. If the Falcons do draft a WR at some point, my personal favorite would be Odell Beckham Jr. from LSU as a 4th round pick. A guy of his caliber certainly wouldn't make our WR corps any worse, and if he has character issues (I don't know if he does) then our WR group is more than capable of handling it.

Final Grade: Incomplete

I can't call the WR group a failure, because our two best ones were out and our third at least provided some kind of presence. The injuries weren't the receivers' fault. One wasn't handled correctly and the other is an injury that was caused by incorrect surgery.

I gave the grade incomplete because in a normal situation, HD is never our #1 receiver. It's tough to say exactly how the receivers would have graded had everyone stayed healthy (probably an A).

I will give the receivers that played the whole season a B-minus. The B-minus is curved up because our #3 became our #1 and that's tough to overcome no matter what team you are.

I expect the 2014 WR group to be back in full force (and health, hopefully) to make another postseason push.

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