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Projecting the Falcons 2016 offense: Justin Hardy

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What will the sophomore season look like for the Falcons new slot receiver?

Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

When the Falcons got Justin Hardy in the fourth round of the 2015 draft, many analysts felt like the Falcons got a steal. Hardy was a highly productive player in college, setting records at East Carolina and demonstrating incredible hands. Fans were surprised when Hardy sat out the first seven games of the 2015 season. We later found out that he had never played with a playbook before, which explained his lack of time on the field early on. However, once he got onto the field, he began showing some that he could be a good option going forward.

2015

Hardy's rookie year didn't exactly light up the scoreboards, but rookie receivers normally struggle in their first year. It takes time to adjust to the speed of the game, and learning a playbook for the first time didn't do Justin any favors either. All things considered, Hardy did ok and all signs point to him being far more comfortable with the offense going into his second year. Here's how he fared in 2015.

Year Games Receptions Yards Avg TDs
2015 9 21 194 9.2 0

Projection

Even with the addition of Sanu, Hardy's targets per game will probably be similar to last year. Even though he is probably going to be our WR3 for the season, I don't think he's going to be the 3rd option in the offense. At best, he'll be the fourth option in the passing game, and will most likely be the fifth option on most plays. That doesn't mean he won't contribute, but I'm not expecting a huge leap in his stats in year two, though he could surprise us. My projection for Hardy may look conservative for some fans, but given the options the team will have this year, he may have a hard time finding significantly more targets.

Year Games Receptions Yards Avg TDs
2016 16 37 344 9.2 1

What are your thoughts on this projection for Hardy?