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Falcons Rising Up In 2014: Levine Toilolo

Levine Toilolo will push to be the Atlanta Falcons' starting tight end in 2014.

Scott Cunningham

Levine Toilolo had a lackluster rookie season, but then, it's hard to shine when you're firmly in Tony Gonzalez's shadow.

Make no mistake: Toilolo was drafted in 2013 as a project. The Falcons saw a lot of talent in that 6'8" frame and reasoned that having Toilolo learn the ropes behind arguably the greatest tight end in NFL history would do him a world of good. While his production was modest—11 catches for 55 yards and two touchdowns—there were moments where Toilolo made a contested grab or threw a nice block that you saw the potential.

The question I've asked again and again is what that potential will amount to. The Falcons would love him to be the heir apparent at tight end, allowing them to bring in a blocking specialist and have a Chase Coffman-type available if they need an extra pass catcher. Will he be ready for that after one season, even one that brought him quite a few snaps and learning opportunities with Gonzo? The reality is that we do not know.

I think the Falcons have to bring in competition through free agency and the draft, because if Toilolo doesn't take a major step forward, the team will be woefully thin at the position. It's in their best interest to give the hulking tight end a shot at a starting job, because a 6'8" tight end who can catch and block well would be a huge (sorry) asset.

Your thoughts regarding Toilolo's 2014 role?