At The Falcoholic, we love a good writer's roundtable like a lobster loves drawn butter, so we're back at it again.
Today's burning question concerns the man taking a huge leap forward in 2015. We hope there will be many Falcons who achieve stardom, yes, but we're trying to identify the guy who will arrive on the scene this year with an unexpected strong performance.
Surprisingly, we didn't all vote in lockstep. Check out our choices below and share yours with us.
Matthew Chambers: Jacob Tamme
One of Atlanta's underrated free agency signings, Tamme has the opportunity he has rarely had in his career: zero competition for the starting position.
Kyle Shanahan's offense is notoriously tight end friendly, and Tamme has decent athletic ability and catching prowess. He is unlikely to make you think he is one of the best in the league, but considering he has averaged under 150 yards per season the last two years, Tamme should breakout and will have no trouble producing the best season of his career even at age 30.
Dave Choate: Ra'Shede Hageman
It's obvious, isn't it? He's too big to be mediocre.
Hageman should be given every opportunity to start with an aging Jonathan Babineaux and situationally-useful Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson standing in his way, and he has all the necessary tools to become a fearsome interior presence. I think he'll be a terrific player this season, and if he is, look for the entire defense to fare better around him.
Alec Shirkey: Justin Hardy
I already felt pretty good about Hardy's chances to contribute on offense immediately, and reports out of minicamp have only reinforced that optimism. This is a player who made 121 catches for 1,494 yards and 10 TDs as a senior in East Carolina's pass-heavy offense. Over 70 percent of his catches went for first downs, and he caught 12 for 140 against UCF's 21st-ranked passing defense. Hardy's reliable hands give him the potential to rack up tons of short-yardage receptions as a slot receiver, making him a clear breakout candidate in my mind.
Jake Bennett: Paul Worrilow
This past season, I was one to criticize Worrilow's performance in a wacky scheme and inability to defend the pass. And while some of his mistakes are his fault, he can only get better from here on with "the best offseason he's ever had" and a scheme more fit to help the MLB.
Worrilow certainly has the physical tools to succeed, and it all lies on his ability to put it all together into a solid season under a new regime. In 2015, I expect his play to elevate above his Freshman and Sophomore campaigns with the help of Dan Quinn and added talent around him.
Caleb Rutherford: Devonta Freeman
Make no mistake, Tevin Coleman could very well steal my thunder here, but I saw enough of Freeman last year to see what makes him so special. His ability to almost "predict the future" when he's in space is incredible. Go back and watch his TD against the Saints (the one where he does that sideways jump). Watch it a few times. Freeman sees the DB come up to make a tackle but positions himself and times his jump in such a way that the DB never had a chance at him.
It's plays like that and a few others that have me excited to see what he can do in Shanahan's zone blocking scheme. He's in a prime position to succeed here, as well. He leads a young RB group and has a fantastic attitude. We might have drafted Coleman to log significant snaps, but don't expect Freeman to give those snaps up so easily.
The DW: Jake Matthews
Given the woeful state of affairs on the Falcons offensive line recently, you'd be forgiven if you weren't willing to put faith into any particular offensive lineman. However, I truly believe Matthews is going to bounce back in a big way and have a breakout season. Jake really hit a perfect storm last year: rookie year, spent the entire off-season preparing at right tackle only to be thrust into starting on the left, then he had his ankle stepped on in the first game and was never really given the time to heal properly. It all added up to a very rough year for the rookie.
However, the reality is that Jake was a top-10 consensus pick for a reason. He has the size, athleticism and most importantly - technique - to be a top left tackle in this league for many years. Under Shanahan, his athleticism will be used better in the running game which should help ease the concerns in pass protection. I still believe Matthews has the ability to be a pro-bowl caliber tackle in this league, and this will be the year he begins living up to it.
Allen Strk: Ryan Schraeder
It tends to go unnoticed that Schraeder had a promising sophomore season. After replacing the overwhelmed Gabe Carimi in week eight, an obvious upgrade had become quite evident. The running game had more success through the right side of the offensive line. Besides the dreadful home loss to Carolina, Schraeder proved to be an asset at right tackle. Atlanta hasn't had a competent right tackle, since releasing Tyson Clabo in 2013. Through being an excellent pass blocker and adequate run blocker, Schraeder has become an asset on a shaky offensive line.
Can his high-level of play be sustained for a sixteen game period? The undrafted free agent from Valdosta State will be opening training camp as the starting right tackle. It will certainly be his job to lose, especially with Lamar Holmes being out for an extensive period of time. With his strengths pertaining towards footwork and movement, Schraeder is an ideal fit for the zone blocking scheme. The third-year breakout label can apply here, as I'm expecting the right side of the offensive line to be one of Atlanta's biggest strengths this year.