If the Falcons are going to improve on their 2015 season, it's going to require greater contributions from players across the roster. While many veterans may see themselves in the same role - or even a reduced one - in 2016, many young players will be counted on to take on a larger role going forward. Who are those players? Let's take a look.
Coleman had a rough rookie year. Despite showing flashes of great break-away speed and a surprisingly physical running style, his performances were marred by awful fumbles. Whereas injury gave him the starting job at the beginning of 2015, injury also took him out of it and hand it over to pro-bowler Devonta Freeman.
Make no mistake: Freeman will continue to get the bulk of the carries. The team, however, is not giving up on Coleman just yet. He'll continue to get more carries, if for no other reason than to keep the wear and tear to a minimum for Devonta.
Dave already covered the fact that Jarrett is being moved to nose tackle in 2016. That doesn't mean that Grady will be limited to just rushing downs though. He's a versatile DT that the coaching staff is high on. Depending on how camp goes, Jarrett could be seeing more snaps at DT than anyone else on the roster, given that versatility. Either way, his role on this rebuilding defense is only going to increase with each year.
It would be hard for Justin Hardy to not have a larger role, given that he was inactive for a good bit of the 2015 season. As we later found out, he was having to learn how to read a play book, which hampered his development in year one. However, recent word is that he's adjusted well and is far more comfortable with the offense. Matt Ryan appeared to develop a rapport with him last year, and given the other options on the roster, Hardy can be penciled in as WR3 right now.
Granted, the four game suspension to start the season will not help Collins contribute more in 2016. Make no mistake though: this coaching staff wants this player to have a bigger role going forward. He fits the profile of what Dan Quinn wants in his corners, and with the team unlikely to keep Robert Alford for the long-term, Collins will be expected to take some significant steps forward. That includes taking a big step forward in 2016.
Don't get me wrong - Clayborn was a factor in 2015 already. From the sounds of it, though, Dan Quinn likes what Clayborn can offer as a defensive end and will look to him to help bolster the pass rush in 2016. At the very least, Clayborn offers the positional versatility that Coach Quinn loves and that could help him stay on the field more in 2016.
What are your thoughts on guys that will play a larger role in 2016?