Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman probably tempered his expectations after he was drafted last year. He was a fourth round draft pick joining an ostensibly capable running back corps. Steven Jackson was a legend in his day and Jacquizz Rodgers was an established threat in the passing game. Freeman must have thought his touches would be limited, at least at first.
Freeman's humility showed when his tour of a modest apartment was featured on HBO's Hard Knocks. He knew he'd have to earn his way and prove himself. Given the Falcons' faith in him going forward, you could convincingly argue that he's done just that.
During the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff was asked several questions by media members, including whether or not the second-year Freeman could serve as a full-time back in Atlanta's new scheme.
"Yes, no question," Dimitroff said.
Freeman's biggest knock is his pass blocking. Given a heavy reliance on their passing attack, it's a skill the Falcons have required from their running backs in recent years. While it's something Freeman has historically struggled with, I'll get him credit, he did get better in protection as his rookie campaign went on. The coaches took notice and so did the fan base. In the Falcons' week 16 defeat of the Saints, Freeman had a +1.7 rating as a pass blocker.
Freeman only stands to benefit from the transition to a zone blocking scheme. In a zone blocking scheme, the running back doesn't have to be particularly fast. He needs to have quick feet, lateral agility, and good eyes. You can see why Dimitroff thinks Freeman could be the full-time back. That said, I do believe the Falcons will add some talent to their running back corps, either through free agency or the draft. They will likely be complementary pieces, not guys intended to supplant Freeman completely.