Levine Toilolo had a quiet rookie season. The gigantic tight end was utilized for just a few hundred snaps in the lost 2013 season. At 6-foot-8, the expected red zone target finished with only 11 catches for 55 yards and two touchdowns despite injuries to Roddy White, Julio Jones and Steven Jackson.
Some wondered, or at least I did, if Toilolo would turn into a complete, starting tight end. Or, at the very least, will the 2014 offense dramatically turn down the role of the tight end with Tony Gonzalez most likely retiring?
Well, Vaughn McClure of ESPN continued excelling at his job of dropping interesting nuggets with this... interesting nugget:
No one expects Toilolo to be Tony Gonzalez, but the former fourth-round pick from Stanford will get his opportunity to be the primary tight end. Personally, I don't believe the Falcons are going into the draft looking for a starting tight end. There might not be a big emphasis on the tight end in the offense this season, anyhow.
McClure's inklings, which have been pretty well-informed inklings (he was the only person linking Atlanta to Paul Soliai before the switch to a 3-4 defense was expected), have shed a little light on the the 2014 offense and the Atlanta's draft outlook. The expectation, which makes loads of sense thanks to Atlanta's pressing needs at offensive line, pass rusher and free safety, allows Atlanta to push tight end deeper into the draft while making Toilolo a pseudo-starter on the offense.
Devin Hester might actually have an impact with the higher reliance on wide receivers. Some other "writer", who is no McClure, wrote up a few things said about Toilolo from Matt Ryan's and Mike Smith's recent press conference.
Ryan went on to say that Levine Toilolo has been around early and that the two of them have had conversations about Ryan's vision for the offense in 2014. He added that Toilolo is in great shape and that the two of them will be practicing together a ton. I fully expect him to be the starter in 2014, and if utilized correctly, he can be a real asset.
The Falcons sure are talking up Toilolo like a team not selecting a tight end in the first few rounds.