We come to the end of our series, pre-draft. The Falcons received a few C's, one D, several B's and a couple of A's, which tells you they're in generally pretty good shape. We'll cap this off with another fairly strong unit, and then it's time for the draft. You all like the draft, right?
Special teams has been a strength in recent years, primarily due to Matt Bryant and Matt Bosher. Kick and punt returner used to be a strength before a disastrous 2012, but we're hopeful we can get back to those heady heights of yesteryear in 2013.
Let's break down the unit.
Kicker Matt Bryant
2012 stats: 33/38, 86.8% field goal percentage, 44/44 XPs
Consistency, thy name is Matt Bryant. The fact that this qualified as a down year for Bryant should tell you just how good he's been since first donning a Falcons jersey.
Kickers are perhaps the most inconsistent players on any roster. They can be elite one year and completely lose it the next, as David Akers has recently shown us. For that reason alone, we should be wary of Bryant going forward.
Still, he's not ancient by kicker standards, he's been wonderful for the Falcons and he's not the kind of guy who psyches himself out. The Falcons may want to explore a young kicker in 2014 or 2015, but for this upcoming season, I couldn't be much more comfortable with Money.
Punter Matt Bosher
2012 stats: 60 punts, 47.5 yards per punt, 22 inside 20 yard line
Matt Bosher has gone from punchline to badass punter in a very short time. After starting off his rookie season poorly, Bosher rallied and finished 2011 strong. In 2012, he graduated to one of the best 10 or so punters in the league, flashing a big leg and good direction on his punts. He also handles kickoffs pretty well.
Bosher's young, talented and he seems to have it all figured out. It may sound odd to say that a punter is one of the players on this roster I have the most faith in, but I expect nothing but good things from Bosh Pit going forward. Bosh.O? I'll keep working on it.
Returners ????? and ????
This is where things go off the rails a bit. I literally do not know who will be the kick and punt returners for the Falcons in 2013, even among those currently on the roster.
If you forced me to project, I'd say Jacquizz Rodgers at kick returner, where he's done a fine job when called upon. I'm comfortable with Quizz in that role. What I'm less comfortable with is punt returner.
Dominique Franks simply couldn't cut the mustard in the role. Harry Douglas could be asked to step in and should do a fine job, but the Falcons may not want to spare their slot receiver for that full-time. No one else on the roster today inspires a ton of confidence, to be frank.
Ultimately, this is a strong unit that needs some answers at returner. The Falcons wound up in poor field position repeatedly a year ago and had to dig their way out, so it's a major concern. Considering how good Bryant and Bosher are, though, I'm not sweating bullets over the unit.