We're continuing our writer roundtable discussions as we get closer to the 2015 NFL Draft. Today we're looking at more options for weapons in the Falcons offense.
Julio Jones is going to be in Atlanta for a long time, but after him, the depth chart gets thin at wide receiver. Roddy White is aging, Leonard Hankerson is only signed to a one-year deal and there's not much to talk about after that.
The Falcons have already taken a closer look at Miami's Phillip Dorsett, and more receivers are surely to come their way before the end of the month. With that in mind, we wanted to look at which wide receivers would be ideal for Atlanta to target. Each writer weighed in with their top choice, the round they think the receiver should be targeted and why they'd fit in the offense.
Phillip Dorsett (Miami)
Dorsett is a supremely talented receiver with great athleticism. His 40 time shows his straight line speed, but it's Dorsett's ability to change direction and accelerate quickly that makes him so dangerous once he has the ball in his hands. His only real weakness is his lack of height and history of drops, but neither of those are fatal flaws, assuming he can cut down on the moose.
I'd prefer not to draft Dorsett in the 2nd round, but there's no question in my mind he'll be a tremendous asset for the Falcons. If he can iron out his drop issues, you could be looking at the next Randall Cobb in Atlanta.
Tre McBride (William & Mary)
If small-school, big-upside players are what gets you going, McBride matches that description perfectly. Since shining in this year's East-West Shrine Game, the senior out of the FCS' William & Mary has found himself on several of the ubiquitous offseason "sleepers" lists -- and for good reason.
McBride has the size (6-foot, 210 pounds) as well as the quickness (4.41 40-yard dash and a 4.08 shuttle time) to become an NFL starter. He's got plenty of college experience under his belt and production to pair with those skills, as well, having made at least 55 receptions for no fewer than 800 yards receiving in each of his last three seasons. He has the versatility to fit in as either a slot or outside receiver and displayed some special teams prowess in college while serving as William & Mary's kick returner. And besides all that, his highlight reel is pretty darn fun to watch. Scouts' biggest concerns have had to do with his inability to consistently separate from defensive backs, and that his strong NFL Combine numbers don't necessarily match up with what they see on tape.
Nevertheless, the Falcons would land a talented player in McBride that they could develop into a starter down the road and, potentially, mold into a Devin Hester successor on special teams.
Chris Conley (UGA)
Chris Conley has been lauded for his performance at the NFL Combine, which included a 4.35 40-yard dash, 11-foot, seven-inch broad jump and 45-inch vertical. His broad jump was the third best mark in combine history.
The University of Georgia product is a fast receiver who can stretch the field and gain separation quickly. He has soft hands, as well, and can hit an impressive second gear. The Falcons need to find someone capable of being a good No. 2 WR down the road, and Conley has that potential.
In his senior year, the Bulldog registered 657 yards -- averaging 18.2 yards per catch -- and eight touchdowns.
Tyler Lockett (Kansas State)
Lockett certainly elevated his draft stock at the NFL Combine, and it's very possible he won't fall to the third round, but considering his size--just under 5'10" and 182 pounds with a thin frame that won't bear much added weight--if he does fall, he'll be a steal for any team that grabs him. While at Kansas State, Lockett established school records for receiving yards with 3,710, receiving touchdowns with 29, and receptions with 249. Lockett also added six return touchdowns to his college resume, and is expected to be able to come into the NFL and contribute on special teams immediately.
What I like most about Lockett is how cleanly he runs routes, and he also has great burst out of his cuts. His size is definitely not an advantage at the NFL level, but his ability to create separation will make a big difference. Lockett was a team captain at K State, and his intelligence and dedication in the film room will help him make the transition to the next level. He'd be a solid threat out of the slot and has the speed to make an impact as a deep threat as well.
Ty Montgomery (Stanford)
Montgomery is an athlete that was being considered a Day 1 draft selection not too very long ago.
Ty boasts a 6'0", 220lb frame with a 4.5 dash to boot. He possesses the vertical and lateral movement necessary for the position, and passes the "Falcon Filter" as if it were a 2nd grade spelling test. While he has unbelievable potential, his game needs to be refined in many areas. He's more of a weapon at this time than he is a receiver, and a history of inconsistent hands added to a 2014 slump has hurt his stock.
The Cardinal compares fairly well to Cordarrelle Patterson of the Minnesota Vikings. If he were to come to Atlanta, he'd have to opportunity to improve his catching behind Julio, and route running behind Roddy White. He's a player that needs work, but with the right environment can return to 2013 form, and blossom into a quality No.2 for Matt Ryan down the road.
Dorial Green-Beckham (Missouri)
Green-Beckham is a physical specimen at 6'5'', 237 pounds with 4.49 speed and a ridiculous catch radius. He has all the potential in the world accompanied with a laundry list of off-field incidents — including being dismissed from Missouri last year — that are causes for concern.
The red flags are there. But, if he makes it to the Falcons' pick in the third round, it would be hard to not roll the dice on what could be a game-changing player. Julio Jones and Roddy White would be perfect mentors for the troubled receiver, and their tutelage could go a long way in keeping him on the right path. Green-Beckham — if he pans out — lined up opposite Jones would easily be the league's most dangerous duo for years to come.
Phillip Dorsett (Miami)
At only 5'10" and 185 pounds, Dorsett is not an intimidating receiver in the mold of Julio or Calvin Johnson. However, having put up 40 times under 4.3 at his pro-day, what Dorsett lacks in size he more than makes up for in sheer speed. That speed alone - whether out of the slot or lined up wide - can be a matchup nightmare as well. When paired with Julio and Roddy, Dorsett has the kind of physical talent that will keep a defense honest.
As a receiver, he has been prone to the occasional drop but he generally tracks the ball well in the air. He can also be a special talent in the return game, which may be important in 2016 and beyond as the team will likely look to move on from Devin Hester. While he won't break a lot of tackles, he is an elusive runner who has serious home-run potential everytime he touches the ball.
As a third round pick - if he lasts that long - Dorsett could be a steal, especially for a team that needs an infusion of youth and speed at the receiver position.
Antwan Goodley (Baylor)
I've been driving the Antwan Goodley hype train for a while. He's a guy at 5'10" 210+ who doesn't immediately shout "wide receiver" when you look at him, but has all the ability to play both receiver AND running back. He does have some concerns, including some route-running issues and spurts where his hands were less than reliable, but I'm confident WR Coach Terry Robiskie can iron out those problems. Considering the receivers in Falcons lore, that shouldn't sound too unfamiliar. He has, however, shown he can high point the ball and make tough catches; he just needs to be a little more consistent in doing so.
My thing with Goodley is that he's extremely athletic for his size. He clocked a 4.44 40 yard dash at the combine - no small feat for someone of his stature. Baylor has churned out ridiculous athletes over the years, and Goodley is no exception. He has the ability to be used in multiple formations as a slot burner or in the backfield, akin to a Percy Harvin type player. Goodley's size and skillset fill both the need of a slot receiver and an emergency, third string running back.
Kenny Bell (Nebraska)
You might not be familiar with Bell, but he's gaining some traction in the NFL Draft community these days. Everything I've seen, read or heard about Bell continues to make me think he'll be a solid No. 2 option somewhere in the NFL.
He's a lanky guy who hasn't played with the best passers at Nebraska, but Bell is the school's all-time leading receiver. His measurables prove he's a great athlete. He ran a 4.42 in the 40 at the NFL Combine, and he posted the third-highest vertical and 3-cone time among wide receivers.
Bell has that extra gear to burn defenders downfield. He's not just a deep threat, though. He does a good job breaking off his routes. He's a decent blocker and a potential asset on special teams. He's a smart player and a leader in the locker room. There's plenty to love about the guy.
I think he could be around in the fourth round for the Falcons, as long as his stock doesn't rise too much over the next month. Bell would provide a solid downfield weapon right away while he learns from guys like Jones and White.
The 2015 draft class is deep at wide receiver, which is good news for the Falcons. They don't need to spend an early pick to address this need. Atlanta hasn't done much to improve the wide receiver depth chart in recent years, but I'm confident they'll change that on the second or third day of the NFL Draft.
If you had to choose a wide receiver for the Falcons to draft, who would it be?