Our depth chart series rolls on, after the inevitable quarterback controversy concerning the team's many unproven backup options. I anticipate running back won't be quite as heated.
The Falcons enter 2014 with a fairly clear pecking order, in my mind. Steven Jackson, if healthy, is the top option for one more year. Devonta Freeman and Jacquizz Rodgers will duke it out for backup duties, while Antone Smith remains a core special teamer who gets two great carries and is buried on the depth chart forever. It's not clear what Freeman can offer his first year, but if he's as good as I anticipate he can be, he should carve out a decent role.
Remember, we're doing rough stat lines and projected depth chart, in order. Here's mine.
Projected Depth Chart
RB Steven Jackson: 250 carries, 950 yards, 3.8 YPC, 10 touchdowns, 30 catches, 250 yards, 1 touchdown
RB Devonta Freeman: 80 carries, 350 yards, 4.37 YPC, 1 touchdown, 10 catches, 80 yards, 2 touchdowns
RB Jacquizz Rodgers: 50 carries, 180 yards, 3.6 YPC, 0 touchdowns, 20 catches, 180 yards, 3 touchdowns
RB Antone Smith: 2 carries, 20 yards, 10 YPC, 0 touchdowns, no catches
A year ago you saw the Falcons put up 321 total carries. I expect the Falcons to be ever-so-slightly more balanced in 2014, distributing about 380 carries across their three top backs. As you can see, I expect Jackson to be the workhorse and goal line option, but I imagine Rodgers will be active on passing downs and Freeman will be mixed in and have a chance to make an impact in his rookie season. I don't think Freeman's going to get a ton of carries this year unless S-Jax gets hurt.
Project away, my friends.