Atlanta’s football season is right around the corner and everyone is excited to see how the new coaching staff and great offseason will affect the team this year. There are many questions that will be answered, but a big one will be the Falcons receiver core. We all expect Julio Jones to sign a new deal with Atlanta to remain the starting receiver. Roddy White is a veteran and will undoubtedly keep his role for Atlanta. Harry Douglas was the team’s reliable third man, but he was released and was quickly signed by Tennessee. His spot is now wide open for the rest of Atlanta’s receiving talent to compete for the spot.
Let’s take a look at the top prospects:
Justin Hardy: Hardy was picked 107 overall in this year’s draft. He was East Carolina’s receiving stud during the 63 games he played for them. Hardy set the record for most career receptions in college football (totaling at 387 catches for over 4,500 yards and 35 touchdowns). Hardy is a very aggressive player that is very instinctive and his body shape is very suitable for the position. However, Hardy isn’t the quickest receiver, but he can still make a big impact on the field.
Devin Hester: Hester is undoubtedly one of the best returners to play the game. His athletic ability is astounding and he is a fan-favorite. Last season he caught almost 40 passes for over 500 yards and two touchdowns. Those are pretty solid stats for someone who is primarily used for returns. However, Hester is going to have to impress us some more if he wants the third spot in Atlanta.
Eric Weems: Weems, like Hester, is primarily used on special teams. He signed a two-year contract earlier this year. Last season, Weems contributed to 102 yards and two touchdowns for Atlanta on ten receptions. Weems will most likely play a small role for the receiving core this upcoming season.
Leonard Hankerson: Hankerson played his first four seasons as a pro in Washington, where he happened to have a decent 57 reception year in 2012. He was signed in free agency to a one year deal. Hankerson has been overcoming a knee surgery and is determined to get that coveted third spot in Atlanta.
Bernard Reedy: Reedy was signed as an undrafted free agent in 2014. He was a star for Toledo, racking up a solid total of 195 receptions for 2,743 yards and 23 touchdowns during his four years there. Reedy plays quick and has been kept on the practice squad.
Freddie Martino: Martino’s college career was similar to Reedy’s, but edged him out by 1,000 more yards, 100 more receptions, and three more touchdowns. He and Reedy have the same play style and has spent time on the Falcons practice squad.
The fans in Atlanta are really looking forward to this upcoming season, and hopefully we will have a receiving core that will be a force to be reckoned with. I have no quarrels in my mind that Dan Quinn and company won’t be ready to reform our Atlanta Falcons. However, unless the Madden NFL 2004 Brian Finneran signs with the team, the starting core will still remain a mystery until the season gets rolling.