clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Reflecting on the fortunes of the 2015 Falcons rookie class

The rookies were a mixed bag, but there's promise here.

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

You can't usually judge a draft class after a single year, so we're not going to try to do so here. Instead, we're just going to briefly look at how each of the Falcons' rookies fared in their first season, with some bonus love for undrafted players who managed to get on the field in their first year.

Vic Beasley

It was an up-and-down year for Beasley, partially explained by the torn labrum he's evidently been playing with all season. After promising double digit sacks, finished the year with just four, plus two forced fumbles, an interception, and a healthy number of pressure. Beasley was too easily taken out of plays and didn't look like his go-to spin move was effective enough, but he looked very good against some capable tackles early, and his strip of Cam Newton in Week 16 was one hell of a huge play.

Beasley may need to add some bulk to his frame, and I'm not ruling out a move to linebacker full-time, but he should be a very good player when fully healthy. His four sacks still led the team.

Jalen Collins

A massive disappointment in his first year. Collins was injured coming into the season and eased back in, but he didn't find much playing time until later in the season, when he turned in a pair of solid efforts before getting burnt multiple times and eventually benched again. He looked slow to react far too often, and really only found moderate success on special teams. We knew there would be some growing pains for Collins, who was thought to be a bit raw coming out of college, but this was more than we expected or wanted. Thankfully, it's just one season.

For Collins, 2015 offered a fair amount of experience on the job and some abject humiliation, which will hopefully fuel better things in 2016. He won't head into training camp with a starting job.

Tevin Coleman

Like Collins, Coleman wound up having a pretty disappointing first year, one primarily caused by unfortunately-timed injuries, Devonta Freeman's emergence, and three very costly fumbles. He averaged 4.5 yards per carry and looked legitimately explosive at times, finishing the year with 87 carries for 392 yards and a touchdown.

Like Collins, Coleman's role is likely to grow in the future, where I see him splitting carries a bit more evenly with Freeman. He'll need to get better at pass protection and pass catching to seize a significant role, however.

Justin Hardy

Amid rumors that he was having trouble picking up the playbook, Hardy sat on the bench for many weeks at the beginning of the season, before finally earning his way into significant playing time down the stretch. No rookie showed more growth than Hardy, who was making clutch third down receptions and earning Matt Ryan's trust over the last several weeks en route to 21 catches for 194 yards.

Hardy will be a bigger part of the passing game in 2016, and his strong finish to the season suggests he'll be a nice fit as a possession guy for the offense.

Grady Jarrett

One of the better run-stopping defensive tackles in the NFL, per Pro Football Focus, Jarrett put up 24 tackles and a sack in the regular season, but was pretty routinely disruptive in his limited snaps. There's a very good chance that a man many considered to be one of the true steals of the 2015 NFL Draft will be a starter in 2016.

Jake Rodgers

The Falcons wound up cutting Rodgers, an athletic project out of Eastern Washington, before the season began. He's currently on the Giants practice squad, where he figures to do very little good for the Falcons moving forward.

Akeem King

The seventh rounder wound up on the Falcons' practice squad, but he got some playing time late in the season and had a nice pass breakup against the Saints. A rangy defensive back with some positional versatility, King could eventually make an impact, but figures to be a deep reserve for a little while yet.

Robenson Therezie

I didn't expect Therezie to make the roster, but now that I've seen him over the course of the season, my expectations for him are perhaps unreasonably high. The former Auburn safety and linebacker is a big hitter and made a crucial interception against the Titans, and is a clearly skilled player. If the Falcons cut ties with William Moore and don't land a big-name free agent, Therezie could be and should be in the mix for a starting safety gig, though he may need more seasoning before he reaches the heights I think he can attain.

Joey Mbu

Another undrafted free agent, the 310 pound nose tackle played in two games and only put up three tackles...but you're not looking for those kinds of stats from a UDFA defensive tackle, anyways. He plugged up his holes effectively, he's just 22 and has room to grow, and the Falcons probably saw enough to feel comfortable adding him to their rotation on the interior, particularly if they cut ties with either Paul Soliai or Tyson Jackson.

Terron Ward

Thanks to injuries and Kyle Shanahan's trust in him, Ward was actually fairly involved in the offense, putting up 33 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown in 2015. The 23-year-old may have better days in front of him, but with Freeman and Coleman on the roster, he figures to be little more than a short yardage back and injury option for Atlanta. As a UDFA, that's still pretty nice.

The Wrapup

This was a mixed bag, as rookie classes usually are. Finding three quality UDFAs in Therezie, Mbu, and Ward deserves to be applauded, and Beasley, Collins, Coleman, Hardy, and Jarrett all have tremendous potential in the years ahead. The only ones with truly promising rookie seasons were Beasley (and only for the flashes), Therezie, Hardy, and Jarrett, though, so if you're the dour sort you might suggest this is another miss-filled class for general manager Thomas Dimitroff. I'm inclined to be more positive.

How about you?