The Falcons ran four deep at wide receiver a year ago, and it translated to a successful passing attack despite the lack of an offensive line, ground game and hope itself. This year's corps has a chance to be even better.
There are some leaps we must make to say that, including the one where we expect Justin Hardy to be good immediately and the one where we anticipate Leonard Hankerson to be both good and healthy. But after trotting out Eric Weems as the team's fifth receiver a year ago, the Falcons have an opportunity to line up Julio Jones, Roddy White, Hardy, Hankerson and useful situational threat Devin Hester as their top five. That's...good!
If you took Julio out of the equation, this corps would be merely decent-to-good, but Jones is legitimately terrifying for defenses and opens up opportunities for everyone else. When you add in Roddy White, whose ability to get open at age 33 borders on wizardly, you have a duo that rivals most in the NFL, and this team doesn't have the same tremendous dropoff in talent as you go down the depth chart that they have in the past.
Despite my kind of punny title, there's really only two receivers currently projected to make the roster who will be legitimate deep threats, and that's Jones and Hester. Roddy White can work anywhere, of course, and Leonard Hankerson is a big, rangy target who can work downfield when needed. This is a team that is going to place a greater emphasis on its ground game, however, and the passing attack is likely to work a lot in that short-to-intermediate range where Ryan works so well.
That's perfectly fine, too. If Hardy is as good as advertised, the team will have someone who can work over the middle in a way Harry Douglas could only intermittently.
The bottom line is that the Falcons have, on paper, a strong receiving corps with legitimate depth. When you consider that the offensive line, ground game and even the tight end group looks like they'll be at least slightly improved from a year ago, you have to like what the passing game will be able to do in 2015.
What are your expectations for Julio, Roddy and company?