When the Falcons released Mike Davis, it was fair to think we had a pretty good handle on the competition at running back. Rookie Tyler Allgeier was going to have a prominent role, Damien Williams would get a lot of work on third down and spell him, Cordarrelle Patterson was once again going to be in the mix as a dangerous and versatile weapon, and Qadree Ollison was going to duke it out with Caleb Huntley and others for a spot. Unsettled in terms of pecking order, maybe, but tidy enough.
In the span of one day, those assumptions have been more or less upended. The Falcons announced they’ve moved Avery Williams to running back earlier today, and now they’ve signed a veteran back with ties to Arthur Smith from his Tennessee days to join the competition. It might be a livelier summer for the running back group than originally anticipated now that Jeremy McNichols is in the mix.
McNichols, 26, has been a useful reserve for the past two seasons in Tennessee, overlapping with Smith in 2020. That year, he managed 204 yards and a touchdown on 47 carries and chipped in 12 receptions for 55 yards. Last year with the Titans, McNichols wasn’t quite as successful on the ground but was a more prolific receiving option, reeling in 28 receptions for 240 yards and a touchdown. Crucially he did a lot of work after the catch in 2021, averaging 8.9 yards per catch, and is a pretty well-rounded back. That should serve him well as he tries to catch on as a reserve in Atlanta, though his limited work on special teams to this point suggests he’ll either need to take on more work there or carve out a good-sized role to stick.
#Falcons signed RB Jeremy McNichols, who spent 2020-2021 with the #Titans.— Kevin Knight (@FalcoholicKevin) May 26, 2022
156 rushing yards (3.8 YPC) and 240 receiving yards (8.6 YPR) last season. Good athlete with third-down ability. Figures to compete for the RB4 spot, but hasn't played much special teams in the past. pic.twitter.com/FosObL5Cha
Either way, it’s clear the Falcons are hoping to stack as much competition at the position as possible, and McNichols gives Smith a familiar face to add to the mix. Welcome McNichols to Atlanta, and we’ll see how this running back group shakes out.