When Dan Quinn spoke earlier this week, he had a lot to say about what promises to be a weird season ahead. He also talked about how critically important the growth of some young players are for a Falcons team that has been stuck in neutral the last couple of years, and made it clear the list of players the team expects to take a step forward is a long list.
DQ knows that this team, which is heavily reliant on a core group of terrific veterans that includes Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Jake Matthews, Grady Jarrett, and Deion Jones needs more than just those elite players making noise. They also need players who have been between okay and great the last couple of years to grow on the job, and he’s got an internal list of players that’s 15 names long.
Here’s who he singled out.
Dan Quinn says Hayden Hurst, Calvin Ridley, Kaleb McGary, Foye Oluokun and Takk McKinley are "definitely" players they are keeping an eye on in terms of development. Adds that there are probably 15 players on that list. #Falcons— William McFadden (@willmcfadden) June 15, 2020
These are all sensible names. Ridley is already a tremendous receiver in his own right, but if he takes a step forward in his production he’ll be one of the league’s elite players, and opposite Julio Jones that will make this passing game truly lethal. Hurst and Oluokun are talented but relatively unproven, Takk has been a good player but not necessarily a big producer, and McGary is coming off a mixed rookie season that he needs to improve on to help buoy the line. You have to figure Kendall Sheffield, Isaiah Oliver, Chris Lindstrom, and Russell Gage are probably on this list, too.
What’s exciting is that the Falcons have all this young talent in positions to make a huge difference, but there’s no denying it’s worrisome because if they don’t, this team isn’t going to take a big step forward. I’m bullish on most of the guys on this list, and we’ll hope we both get Falcons football this season and that it’s a lot more fun to watch.