Previously, I broke down the Falcons top wideout: Roddy White. Now it’s time to look at his little buddy, Harry Douglas.
Pros: Has good speed and burst. His quick first step allows him to be a dangerous runner after the catch. Good with the ball in his hands due to his speed, burst, and quickness. That also makes him an effective punt returner. Does his best work on shorter routes such as screens or hitches where he can get in space and be dangerous. Most effective when he’s in the slot. Not afraid to go over the middle and shows the speed to challenge the seam at times.
Cons: Lacks ideal size for a wideout, and it shows when he’s trying to make grabs in traffic. Doesn’t have great length, and isn’t a guy that is going to stretch or lay out to make a lot of grabs away from his body. This makes the windows for him a lot smaller, and puts more onus on the QB to be accurate for him to be most effective. This also diminishes how effective he is when asked to run deeper routes since most corners and safeties won’t be outmuscled for the ball. For similar reasons, his production is limited when he lines up outside. Doesn’t contribute much as a blocker.
2011 Outlook: Douglas disappointed last year coming off an ACL injury. The positive is that players that typically suffer from ACL tears tend to be much better 2 years removed from the injury rather than a year later. That means that Douglas should be better this year than he was a year ago.
Douglas struggled when asked to make intermediate and deep catches, having a number of drops including in critical situations. With Michael Jenkins out of the lineup for the first 5 weeks, his limitations as an outside threat were apparent. He only caught 42% of the 26 targets he had in those games, and average 5.65 yards per target. Michael Jenkins in the 11 games he started last year, caught 56% of his targets and averaged 6.92 yards per target.
A lot of dropped passes early in the year, likely had Matt Ryan losing confidence in him and thus when Jenkins returned to the lineup, he largely became an afterthought.
The Falcons expect Julio Jones to be a more effective starter than Jenkins ever was. But if the offense is really going to blossom, then they need Douglas to get to a level where his production is at least comparable to Jenkins.
So far Douglas seems off to a good start with a solid game against the Miami Dolphins in the preseason opener, and most reports out of camp indicate that he is approaching a level comparable to where he was before he hurt his knee.
Douglas is a much more specialized option than either Jones or Roddy White, meaning that the team is going to have to make an effort if they want to use him correctly. Allowing him to work the short field and getting him in space where his speed is an asset are the best ways to do this. This may include spreading the field more than the Falcons have typically done in recent seasons. If Jones is an effective target outside that can push the safeties back, it should increase the number of one-on-one opportunities for Douglas inside and underneath, which should make him more effective.
In Summary… Douglas is a nice complementary option in the Falcons passing attack. But the Falcons need to work harder to try and get more out of him. With his injury issues seemingly behind him, he should be poised for an increase in production. How much of an increase will go a long way to securing whether Douglas can be the third act in the Roddy and Julio Show at wide receiver.