Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Freeman’

Ranking the Falcons 2014: No. 34 Jacquizz Rodgers

July 16th, 2014 No comments

Josh D. Weiss-US PRESSWIRE

Jacquizz Rodgers

I’m counting down the top 40 players on the Atlanta Falcons, and let’s continue with 34th-ranked player: running back Jacquizz Rodgers.

To read the methodology I devised to rank the Falcons players, click here.

Total Score: 44/100

Last year’s rank: 27
Player Grade: 49/100
Teams he is starter: 0 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 0 out of 32
Teams he is role player: 28 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +2
Positional Bonus: +3

Rodgers was pushed down in this year’s rankings thanks to additions the Falcons made in the offseason as well as the fact that a number of unproven players rose in the rankings from a year ago. But that does not mean that Rodgers doesn’t add significant value to the Falcons roster.

While he’ll face stiff competition from rookie running back Devonta Freeman this summer, Rodgers isn’t exactly going to lay down. He is one of the best third-down backs currently in the league, being one of only four players that ranked in the top 15 in premium website Pro Football Focus‘ pass-blocking efficiency and yards per route metrics for running backs in 2013.

But Rodgers likely hopes to expand his role as a rusher this season. He received a career-high 96 carries in 2013, including 58 carries during a five-week stint where starter Steven Jackson was sidelined with injury. Rodgers has yet to receive more than 10 carries in a game in which he was not filling in as a starter or the Falcons were involved in a rout. Earning those reps will become harder with Freeman on the roster, as the team envisions Freeman as capable of being a lead back, something that Rodgers has not been.

Read more…

Categories: Features Tags: , , ,

Ranking the Falcons 2014: No. 38 Devonta Freeman

July 15th, 2014 No comments
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Devonta Freeman

I’m counting down the top 40 players on the Atlanta Falcons, and let’s continue with 38th-ranked player: running back Devonta Freeman.

To read the methodology I devised to rank the Falcons players, click here.

Total Score: 41/100

Last year’s rank: N/A
Player Grade: 47/100
Teams he is starter: 0 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 0 out of 32
Teams he is role player: 23 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +3
Positional Bonus: +3

Freeman sports potential to be an impact running back thanks to his abilities as a receiver and a capable pass protector given his size. In today’s NFL where passing is the premium, these skills ensure that Freeman should have a long, productive career.

The biggest concerns and question marks surrounding Freeman is how effective a runner he will be. There is no doubt that at the very least, he should be a capable change-of-pace and complementary back in the NFL, but the Falcons hope that he becomes much more than that.

Freeman possesses good speed and quickness, and runs hard for a player with his smaller stature and frame, but similar statements were made about Jacquizz Rodgers when he came into the league three years ago. While Rodgers has been a productive backup in Atlanta, he has done little to date to suggest that he has the potential to be a lead back for an NFL team.

At the very least, Freeman should be in a position to fill the shoes of retired running back Jason Snelling as an occasional change-of-pace back that will give starter Steven Jackson and Rodgers a breather.

Last year, Snelling saw the majority of his playing time during a five-week period where Steven Jackson was injured. During that span, Snelling averaged about 28.4 snaps per game according to premium website Pro Football Focus. In the other nine games he played, Snelling averaged 10.1 snaps and only a tenth of those snaps required him to tote the rock. In 2012, Snelling averaged about 14.5 snaps per game as the Falcons’ third-string tailback. Overall, Snelling was an underused player in Dirk Koetter’s offense.

Snelling performed in other areas that made up for his lack of usage on offense, namely on special teams. It remains to be seen whether or not the Falcons will employ Freeman frequently in that area. Rodgers has been a regular on the Falcons’ special teams units since his arrival in Atlanta, but given the fact that down the road the team envisions Freeman for a much bigger role, perhaps they would see the need for him to earn his place on special teams as unnecessary. If that is the case, coupled with his being utilized in a similar fashion as Snelling, it could make for a relatively quiet rookie season for Freeman.

But on the other hand, he could just as easily have a big year if he can fully take advantage of whatever opportunities come his way. It’s just as conceivable that if Freeman can add the home-run element to the Falcons ground attack, by year’s end he could be seeing significantly more reps than Rodgers does. To a point where he could be challenging Jackson for the biggest workload in a fashion similar to how Giovani Bernard saw more playing time than BenJarvus Green-Ellis did with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2013. While Green-Ellis handled the majority of the carries, Bernard earned more overall playing time due to his versatility to contribute in the passing game and that he always seemed a big play waiting to happen. While Jackson is a significantly better player on third downs than Green-Ellis is, the simple reality is that Jackson’s prowess in that arena is not what it once was. And if that’s the case, there’s an opportunity for Freeman, who clearly has a future in Atlanta, to make his mark. If he’s in any way reminiscent of Bernard, then you can expect the Falcons to take full advantage.

Categories: Features Tags: , ,

Atlanta Falcons Training Camp Preview 2014: Running Back

July 15th, 2014 No comments
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Devonta Freeman

The biggest questions surrounding the Atlanta Falcons running back position are less about who will make the team, but how the team will stack its depth chart.

Steven Jackson returns as the unquestioned incumbent starter at the position. Jackson missed a significant chunk of his first year with the Falcons due to a hamstring injury, but finished the year relatively strong. Jackson rushed for 392 yards in the final seven games, which extrapolates to just shy of 900 for a full 16-game slate.

Although it’s worth noting that low figure likely has a lot to do with the fact that the Falcons rarely had opportunities to run the ball in the second halves of games down the stretch due to getting behind early. Over the final seven games, the team ran the ball on 35.6 percent of first-half plays, but only on 30.6 percent of second-half plays.

Jackson also saw his production dip significantly in those second halves, averaging just 2.4 yards per carry versus 4.8 yards in the first halves of the final seven games.

The team is hopeful that there will be more balance with their running game this year given improvements made along the offensive line as well as on defense which should prevent the team from getting too far behind early.

Behind Jackson may be the most notable competition at the position, which will feature a battle between Jacquizz Rodgers and rookie Devonta Freeman for the right to be the team’s primary third-down back.

Read more…

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 68 “Go Blame Thomas Dimitroff!”

June 12th, 2014 1 comment

Allen and I are back with our friend Steve Cohen to discuss the Atlanta Falcons offseason and the latest happenings in OTAs. We discuss the injuries to Julio Jones, Zeke Motta and Levine Toilolo; what role will Devonta Freeman and Antone Smith have at running back; trade rumors surrounding Oakland Raiders wide receiver Denarius Moore; the Falcons front office’s aggressiveness with making moves at the end of training camp; competition featuring Dwight Lowery vs. Dezmen Southward; whether Desmond Trufant could be used as a shadow corner; recent quarterback contracts around the league and the NBA Finals. The podcast ends with Allen and my live reactions to news of Sean Weatherspoon’s season-ending injury.

Episode 68 – Go Blame Thomas Dimitroff! [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 22 minutes

Allen covers the Falcons for Pro Football Spot. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk.

Steve can be found on twitter: @SteveInBrooklyn

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop an e-mail at: pudge@falcfans.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and be sure to rate us there! For Android users, DoubleTwist is a good app to listen as well. You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Falcons Sign Fourth-Round Pick Freeman

May 22nd, 2014 Comments off

The Atlanta Falcons announced earlier today that 2014 fourth-round running back Devonta Freeman has agreed to terms on his rookie deal. Terms of his contract were undisclosed, but as per league rules it is a four-year deal. Freeman is the second to last of the team’s nine draft picks to sign, leaving just their third-round selection, safety Dezmen Southward, as the only remaining unsigned rookie.

Freeman comes from Florida State and is expected to compete for a backup role at running back behind Steven Jackson and Jacquizz Rodgers. As a senior, Freeman was the first FSU running back since Warrick Dunn in 1996 to rush for over 1,000 yards.

Categories: News Tags: , ,

Atlanta Falcons 2014 Rookie Scouting Report: Devonta Freeman

May 21st, 2014 Comments off
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Devonta Freeman

A breakdown of the Atlanta Falcons 2014 fourth-round selection, former Florida State running back Devonta Freeman.

BIO

Height: 5’8″
Weight: 206
College: Florida State
40 Time: 4.58 (Combine)
Three-Cone: 7.11 (Combine)

He was born on March 15, 1992 in Miami, Florida where he attended Miami Central High. Comes from a rough background, surrounded by crime and violence as a youth and was able to use drive to excel at football to help rise above it. Coached in Pop Warner football by Luther Campbell a.k.a. “Uncle Luke,” lead rapper in group 2 Live Crew.

As a true freshman at Florida State, he started the final seven games of the season and led the team in rushing with 579 yards on 120 carries (4.8 avg) and eight touchdowns. He had twice as many carries as the next tailback that season. Also caught 15 passes for 111 yards (7.4 avg). Began sophomore year again as a reserve player but would eventually start the final four games. Would once again lead team in rushing with 660 yards on 111 carries (5.9 avg) and eight scores. Only had one more carry and 20 more yards as the next tailback on roster (James Wilder, Jr.). Also had 10 receptions for 86 yards (8.6 avg) that season. As a junior, took over lead tailback duties full-time and started all 14 games. His 1,016 rushing yards led the team and also became first Florida State tailback since Warrick Dunn in 1996 to rush for over 1,000 yards. His 173 carries as a junior was also more than the next two backs combined. Averaged 5.9 yards per carry and had 14 touchdowns, along with 22 receptions for 278 yards (12.6 avg) and another touchdown. Earned first team All-ACC honors as a junior.

Noted for his work ethic, which allowed him to receive the majority of reps during his career despite not being considered the most talented running back on the roster.

2013 GAMES WATCHED

Date
Opponent
Att.
Yds
YAC
TD
Out SR
In SR
Fum
Oct-19Clemson218830180%31%0
Oct-26N.C. State129225263%75%0
Dec-07Duke189119138%44%1
Jan-06Auburn117318133%40%0
YAC - Yards After First Contact; Out SR - Outside Runs Success Rate; In SR - Inside Runs Success Rate
Date
Opponent
Tgt
Rec
Yds
YAC
TD
UC
Oct-19Clemson1111900
Oct-26N.C. State11302900
Dec-07Duke11222700
Jan-06Auburn33211700
YAC - Yards After Catch; UC - Uncatchable Passes

SKILLS
The grading system is based on a 10-point scale: 1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite.

Speed (6.0) – Possesses good speed but is not going to run away from many NFL-level starters at linebacker and in the defensive backfield. Not a threat to take it the distance every time he touches the ball, but when he can get space is able to cover ground quickly and generate big plays from time to time.

Read more…

Atlanta Falcons Takeaways From Last Week – May 19, 2014

May 19th, 2014 Comments off
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Matthews

I really like the Jake Matthews pick.

I’m optimistic that he’s going to be one of those foundation players for the Atlanta Falcons offense for years to come. The team’s offense will be known primarily by quarterback Matt Ryan, wide receiver Julio Jones and Matthews.

The Falcons are going to need Matthews to hit the ground running as far as his transition to the NFL goes. There is a leadership void in regards to their offensive line thanks to the recent departures of center Todd McClure and offensive tackle Tyson Clabo, and Matthews will be counted upon to fill some of that void in the coming years.

And whether or not he can fill that void will depend on him playing well, and doing so relatively soon.

I have a great deal of optimism that Matthews will be a Falcon for a very long time, assuming he can stay healthy, similar to McClure, who played 14 years with the team.

Like Other Quality Tackles, Matthews Could Fly Under Radar

As I said in my scouting report of Matthews, I’m not convinced he’ll be one of the premier offensive tackles in the league but I do believe he’ll settle himself to become one of the better ones.

Read more…

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 67 “Coming to Terms With Prince Shembo”

May 18th, 2014 Comments off

I am joined by Jeanna Thomas of The Falcoholic to give a more positive spin on the Atlanta Falcons 2014 draft class plus some of the early developments in the team’s rookie mini-camp. The conversation then dives deep into a discussion of Falcons fourth-round selection, linebacker Prince Shembo, and his alleged off-field incident during his time at Notre Dame. We do our best to figure out how they can reconcile our issues over the incident.

Episode 67 – Coming to Terms With Prince Shembo [Download]

Duration: 41 minutes

Jeanna writes for The Falcoholic and can be found on twitter: @jeannathomas. You can read Jeanna’s article referred to in the episode by clicking here.

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop an e-mail at: pudge@falcfans.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and be sure to rate us there! You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

FalcFans Podcast – Ep. 66 “Tear Down Your Hopes and Dreams”

May 13th, 2014 Comments off

Allen and I are joined by The Falcoholic contributor, Murf Baldwin, to discuss our thoughts on the Atlanta Falcons 2014 draft class. Murf gives a less than glowing assessment of the Falcons picks, including whether or not Ra’Shede Hageman and Dezmen Southward offered good value in the second and third rounds. We wonder whether or not the Falcons pass rush has been significantly improved and break down whether Devonta Freeman and their late-round picks add anything to the roster that wasn’t already there. Allen and I finish with a brief discussion of our hopes for the NBA playoffs, our usual around the league segment, as well as Allen’s explanation on why he could not make a triumphant return to Radio City Music Hall to witness the draft.

Episode 66 – Tear Down Your Hopes and Dreams [Download]

Duration: 1 hour, 26 minutes

Allen covers the Falcons for Pro Football Spot. His twitter handle is: @Allen_Strk.

Murf writes for The Falcoholic, Roll Bama Roll and can be found on twitter: @MurfBaldwin.

If you have any questions and comments, you can hit us up on Twitter, post in the forums in the podcast thread, or drop an e-mail at: pudge@falcfans.com.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, and be sure to rate us there! You can also subscribe directly to our feed at the following URL: http://feeds.feedburner.com/falcfans/LXSt

Takeaways from 2014 NFL Draft – May 12, 2014

May 12th, 2014 1 comment
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Falcons 2014 Top Selection: Jake Matthews

Normally I write my weekly takeaways column on Sunday afternoon or evening with the intention of it being posted first thing Monday morning around 8:00 a.m. This week, that was no the case.

That’s partly to blame for the fact that it was Mother Day’s weekend, and instead of doing all the things I normally would have done on a Sunday afternoon/evening to get this weekly column posted, I decided to spend time with my mother, who had driven four hors from Virginia to North Carolina to witness my sister-in-law’s graduation from grad school. In the interest of being a good son, my mother took precedent over this column.

Secondly, I had not watched all of the Atlanta Falcons 2014 draft picks play yet. And the column after the draft is the one devoted to my thoughts on whether I believe the Falcons’ draft was a good one or not.

Because unlike most people, I try to be informed before giving my opinions. If you want to know my take on any of the Falcons undrafted free agents, I don’t have one because I haven’t seen any of them play. Until I do, which will be in the first preseason game, my opinion on them will remain largely non-existent.

I was born in 1983, so I spent a significant portion existing in a world without the internet. That was a world where people couldn’t post their opinions, thoughts or insights with the click of a button on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or in Yahoo! News comments.

Back in those times, the only people that were given a platform to express opinions were people that had earned that right to be called experts in their give fields. There was a filter, and it was one that you had to work hard to break through.

The idea that Courtney Love could be involved in finding a missing plane in that time was laughable at best. Instead of social media, people expressed their opinions to companions and family members in their respective living rooms, kitchen dinner tables or bars.

But that age doesn’t exist anymore, and now people are free to give their opinions with no filter. Today, everything is thrown at the wall, and it’s only a matter of what sticks.

Why am I telling you this? Because one of the things I find fascinating is how everybody, including those least informed, will give their opinions on the draft. Besides watching a YouTube highlight clip and reading a bunch of online scouting reports, most people aren’t informed about most of these players with their own eyes.

It often leads to people have overly optimistic expectations about a particular draft prospect, or overly pessimistic ones. There is no longer a middle ground. And people should know that most things fall into that middle area.

I’m saying all this because I believe it will take time to see how these draft prospects develop. Patience is really the key, and while it won’t stop me from having an opinion today, I’m at least aware of the fact that what my opinion today is relatively meaningless in the big picture. That big picture will be determined by where the Falcons 2014 draft picks are three to five years from now.

What will this column will entail from this point is my best guess on where those players will be at that point. While that guess is an educated one based off informed analysis from watching these guys play a handful of collegiate games, it is still a guess nonetheless.

Read more…