The Falcons have recently fallen in love with the idea of drafting Louisiana collegiate wide receivers in the sixth round, nabbing both Russell Gage and Marcus Green there in the last two drafts. The two both have definite special teams value, but it’s worth asking whether Green might be able to carve out a significant role on offense down the line.
Gage, of course, was drafted primarily for his special teams prowess, not his skill as a receiver. His entire collegiate production consisted of 28 receptions for 232 yards and a touchdown, which is part of why his flashes of potential as a receiver in 2018 were so intriguing. There’s still upside there, but if we’re talking about which one of the team’s last two sixth round picks at receiver is likeliest to make a big impact, it’s Green by a landslide.
Green’s production, meanwhile, was stellar. He wasn’t playing at LSU as Gage was, but he put up 202 receptions for 2,698 yards and 23 touchdowns at Louisiana-Monroe, using his blazing wheels and quality hands to make an outsized impact. Notably, he did most of his damage as the team’s slot receiver.
#Falcons WR Marcus Green (@Loaded_MAG3) lined up in the slot on 94.0% of his snaps in 2018. He had 792 receiving yards, a yards per route run of 2.81, and 8 TDs from the slot - ranking 14th, 9th and T-4th respectively among draft eligible WRs!! #InBrotherhood #RiseUp https://t.co/J5I1BT7LA8— PFF ATL Falcons (@PFF_Falcons) May 3, 2019
Why is this relevant, especially given that Green has been linked to both receiver and running back here in the early going, not to mention as the team’s probable kick returner? Because the team doesn’t actually have a long-term slot option at this point, what with Mohamed Sanu entering the final year of his deal in 2020, Justin Hardy on a one-year deal and, and Gage not (to my knowledge) being considered for that role. Green’s productivity and comfort level there suggests that he can be impactful at least in relief of Sanu, not to mention giving the team a very different look than they have with the 6’2”, physical playmaker there today.
Green’s closest analogue for Falcons fans is probably Taylor Gabriel, though it’s not a perfect comparison and the two would be working in different offenses with Kyle Shanahan and Steve Sarkisian turning things over to Dirk Koetter. The two are similar in height and athletic profiles, with Green’s clocking in some 25 pounds heavier, and Green’s speed and versatility (the team suggested he’d be an RB before Thomas Dimitroff walked it back) could see him getting involved out of the backfield as well, as the team sometimes (though not often enough) did with Gabriel.
I don’t want to overstate this possibility, because the rate of late round receivers panning out isn’t exactly stellar, but it’s an intriguing thought. Green may never become the team’s #3 receiver, but his blend of speed, quality hands, and experience do suggest he could at least fill in capably in the slot in the years to come.