We’re rolling through the 2008-2019 Falcons draft history, which has been exactly the kind of roller coaster you’d expect it to be.
That’s why I’m pleased to announce that we’ve made it to wide receiver, a position where the Falcons have actually done quite well for themselves. Let’s get to it.
2008: Harry Douglas, 3rd round
2010: Kerry Meier, 5th round
2011: Julio Jones, 1st round
2015: Justin Hardy, 4th round
2016: Devin Fuller, 7th round
2018: Calvin Ridley, 1st round
2018: Russell Gage, 6th round
2019: Marcus Green, 6th round
There’s no question that receiver is one of the great success stories of Thomas Dimitroff’s tenure in Atlanta. Out of eight players he’s drafted at the position, three have become quality starters, one is a future Hall of Famer, and two others have been at least very good reserves. You can’t really quibble with that hit rate, especially because the only times the Falcons have missed have been in the 5th round or later.
Those misses were Meier (undone by injuries), Fuller (undone by injuries), and Green (an exciting gadget player who disappointed over the summer of 2019 in Atlanta). The quality reserves were Hardy (95 receptions, 946 yards, 9 touchdowns in 5 seasons, plus stellar blocking) and Gage (55 receptions, 509 yards, 1 touchdown in 2 seasons), and Gage has a better-than-solid chance of being this team’s third receiver in 2020.
The starters are obvious. Douglas was the team’s third receiver for years, and while he was occasionally infuriating and was eaten by the turf monster in one of the most critical games in franchise history, he put up solid numbers consistently and even enjoyed a year as the team’s #1 option due to injury. Ridley is off to a stellar start to his career and should be even better in 2020, his third year, with Mohamed Sanu and possibly Austin Hooper playing elsewhere.
The last, of course, is Julio Jones. The Falcons had to give up a bounty to get him, but Julio’s been one of the league’s best receivers and a key piece of an often quality offense in Atlanta, putting up 797 receptions, 12,125 yards, and 57 touchdowns thus far in his career.
If the Falcons feel they need to use another pick at receiver this April, in other words, we should feel confident they’ll come back with a quality player.