There wasn’t too much buzz when the Atlanta Falcons announced Tyler Allgeier as their new running back in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. He was a good prospect who had carried the BYU offense at the collegiate level, but the excitement from the fanbase was with the other offensive side of the ball selections the team made in the round prior — namely Drake London and Desmond Ridder.
Allgeier was just the latest in a string of day three running back selections the Falcons had made in the past half-decade. There was a stretch from 2017-2019 when the Birds selected Brian Hill, Ito Smith and Qadree Ollison in either the fourth or fifth round, with none of them having any consistent or extended impact for a variety of reasons, and all going down as wasted picks. In 2021, fifth round pick Avery Williams made his own transition to running back before this past season, but his value was always that of a return specialist.
Allgeier had to fight through this day three running back narrative while simultaneously being buried on the depth chart from day one. The Falcons invested in the position in the weeks prior to the draft, re-signing Cordarrelle Patterson and bringing in veteran Damien Williams to spearhead the ground game. Allgeier even found himself playing in the fourth quarter of the final preseason game next to the roster bubble guys while the starters all rested.
So just how did the BYU standout perform in his rookie season? Well, let’s just say that he broke those narratives in half quicker than anyone expected.
16 games, 210 carries, 1035 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns, 4.9 yards per attempt, 16 catches (17 targets), 139 receiving yards, 1 receiving touchdown, 8.7 yards per reception
Rookie year highlights
- Broke William Andrews’ franchise rookie record for rushing yards in a season
- Finished second in the NFL in rushing yards among rookies, and first in yards per carry among rookies (min. 100 carries)
- Became the first Falcon to rush for 1,000 yards in a season since Devonta Freeman in 2016
- Had 431 rushing yards in the four games after the bye week
Given the expectations and preseason outlook, it’s hard to call Allgeier’s rookie season anything other than a rousing success. After being a healthy scratch for the season opener, Allgeier was called into action following a Damien Williams injury on the first drive of the campaign. From Week 2 on, the rookie received fewer than 10 touches in a game just twice all year.
The opportunity share increased following a knee injury which landed Patterson on IR after Week 4’s victory against the Browns. Well, the share of touches was likely to increase either way, as Allgeier enjoyed a breakout game featuring his first career 100-yard game from scrimmage, totaling 84 rushing yards on 10 carries along with 20 receiving yards on one catch in that triumph against Cleveland.
Allgeier found himself on top of the depth chart between weeks 5-8, enjoying a steady increase in touches from 13 to 15 to 16 to 17, while still splitting carries with Caleb Huntley as the team looked to weather Patterson’s absence. Despite the added opportunity, the efficiency wasn’t there, as the BYU man averaged just 3.19 yards per carry in these four contests.
When his touches were scaled back to 11 against the Chargers in Week 9, upon Patterson’s return, Allgeier enjoyed his second 100-yard game, going for 123 yards from scrimmage. He entered into a full blown committee with Patterson and Huntley, averaging 10.4 touches per game between weeks 9-13, proving himself as a nice depth piece but seemingly indefinite backup.
Following the Week 14 bye week, a combination of Patterson once again becoming more inefficient down the stretch, an injury to Huntley and the coaching staff likely wanting to get an extended look at their rookies with playoff hopes fading quickly was the recipe for an Allgeier explosion.
The BYU alum set a new career high in carries with each passing game from Week 15 on and his yards from scrimmage totals were as follows — 136, 117, 95, 135. After struggling with efficiency on added touches earlier in the season, Allgeier totaled a glistened 5.46 yards per carry on a far extended workload of 79 totes. He went for over 130 rushing yards against both the Saints and Buccaneers.
This electric pace was enough to see Allgeier overtake William Andrews for the most rushing yards in a single season as a rookie in Atlanta Falcons history. Andrews’ record stood for 43 years, and while Allgeier did enjoy one more game, he totaled fewer carries than Andrews did in 1979 (1,035 yards on 210 carries vs. 1,023 yards on 239 carries).
Andrews, of course, went on to become one of the great Falcons running backs, making the Pro Bowl four consecutive times immediately after his rookie season, and being selected as an Second-Team All-Pro twice. We would be over the moon if Allgeier enjoyed a similar career trajectory.
Going into 2023, there is little doubt who will be at the top of Atlanta’s depth chart at the running back position.