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Justin Hardy's potential 2015 impact, by the numbers

The promising young receiver will take Harry Douglas's old role, but how will he stack up against HD?

John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Hardy is an intriguing young receiver, the first one the Falcons have added to the roster before the 5th round since...well, since Julio Jones. The question is how he'll fare in his first season, and NumberFire helps us get started on the answer by breaking down his numbers and comparing him to Harry Douglas.

In essence, the Falcons want Justin Hardy to be their next Douglas and play the role of a productive slot receiver who is an option on short-and-intermediate routes, but there's an important twist there. Like Douglas, Hardy is agile, was a productive wide receiver in college and is more quick than fast. The primary difference is that Hardy was more productive in college at a smaller program, he's about 15 pounds heavier and plays a more physical game as a result, and his hands are absolutely massive next to HD's.

Those are not particularly subtle differences, and they point to Hardy being a different kind of slot receiver than Douglas. Where Douglas mostly relied on finesse and quick cuts to get open and snag passes, Hardy can bang with cornerbacks and should be the kind of sneakily effective red zone option Douglas simply was not. His large hands and allergy to drops will help him a ton, and Hardy should immediately carve out a role as an option on short routes, particularly over the middle of the field where he can fight for yardage.

Will Hardy be better than Douglas? That's impossible to say, and it's worth remembering that for all his warts as a player, Douglas was a productive player who had a good rapport with Matt Ryan. Hardy's going to have to adjust to the NFL and the team is going to have to figure out how to get him open initially, but he's a good bet to be productive before long. I'd expect him to be the team's third-or-fourth leading receiver in 2015 in terms of receptions, and what he does with those chances will hopefully be spectacular.

Be sure to check out NumberFire's article for much more.