The Falcons have plenty of young players on their roster who are poised for a breakout. Let’s take a look at some of these young players we think have the best shot to shine.
Ricardo Allen (FS)
Ricardo Allen was once on the Falcons practice squad with his future in doubt. That didn’t stop Allen, however, from earning a starting role in 2015, and showing long-term promise at his new position. Allen was moved to free safety in his second season in which he started 14 games and recorded 68 tackles, five passes defended, three interceptions, one sack, and one fumble recovery. This year will be much easier for Allen, as last year was a lot of trial and error at a new position. This upcoming season will be a much smoother transition as he has already had one year at free safety under his belt. Allen has been watching plenty of tape recently and has been showing up earlier for meetings. Things will get a lot easier for Ricardo Allen in his third year. With his nice stat line last season, you can expect even more big plays from number thirty-seven this season. Allen is ready to break out of his shell because he is smoothly making the most of his offseason with a lot of film study. Allen could be one of the top free safeties next year which wouldn’t be that surprising. He’s got the technique down already, and now it’s time for him to take the next step. Expect a breakout year from the youngster in only his third year next season.
Vic Beasley (OLB/DE)
You knew this guy would be on the list. Vic Beasley, the eighth overall draft pick in the 2015 NFL draft, is the next pass rusher in line to break out in his sophomore season. Vic has similar athletic traits as Von Miller, who he has been studying this offseason. Beasley tallied only four sacks in his rookie season just like Oakland’s Khalil Mack. Mack went on in his sophomore season to break out for a monster year. Beasley is next in line, as we saw him start to really shine late in his rookie year. Beasley is starting to get much more pressure on quarterbacks, and even went on to strip-sack MVP Cam Newton to seal a victory for the Falcons in week fifteen. Beasley is moving to outside linebacker where he will rush the edge in the base package but will slide to the defensive end position in the nickel package, just like Khalil Mack. This has been an incredible offseason for Beasley as well, for he has gained a lot of muscle. Now that Vic has beefed up with some muscle, he will learn how to combine speed and power, which should make him a force to be reckoned with this year. Don’t be surprised when Beasley grabs ten plus sacks this season. It’s looking like a real possibility folks, so get ready for a sack show from “Von Miller 2.0” this season.
Justin Hardy (WR)
Did you forget about the NCAA’s all-time receptions leader? Justin Hardy has great hands but didn’t get to show much in his rookie season, as he wasn’t activated on the roster until mid-season. While he may be shorter than your average receiver, Hardy has incredible hands and is a great route runner. Matt Ryan has Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu to work with this season, but one can’t rule out Hardy just yet. Hardy should be able to dominate in the slot, taking the pressure off Jones and Sanu. He will be a key player on third downs as he will run the slot across the field. Hardy is ready to have a nice year in his sophomore season. His numbers may not jump out at people next season, but his plays over the middle will.
Grady Jarrett (DT)
Grady Jarrett celebrates after a tackle for loss during the preseason against the Ravens (Credit: AJC – Jeff Shultz)
The next big-time defensive tackle is here, and his name is Grady Jarrett. Grady has first-round attributes but somehow slipped to the fifth round where the Falcons were lucky enough to get their hands on him. Jarrett showed some real flashes in limited snaps during his rookie year. He showed up in the preseason last year as well. With Paul Solia gone, it is now time for Grady Jarrett to step up, as he is getting the call to start at nose tackle next season. He has a super-high motor and will make some big plays next season. He will be a key run stopper on coach Quinn’s defense. Jarrett will be all over runners next season and is poised for a breakout year. Grady Jarrett’s future is bright, and under Coach Quinn he could be the next superstar defensive tackle. Grady Jarrett has superstar abilities, so expect to see a huge year from number 97 next season. Dan Quinn will have Grady Jarrett terrorizing opposing lineman sooner than later.
Agree with our list? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.