Falcons’ Late-Round Pick Tipped for Key Starting Role

Tyler Allgeier

Getty One of the Falcons' late-round draft picks is tipped to start as a rookie.

The picture in the backfield has changed considerably for the Atlanta Falcons this offseason. Mike Davis joined the Baltimore Ravens in free agency, while former Kansas City Chiefs and Chicago Bears running back Damien Williams took his place.

Cordarrelle Patterson was brought back on a two-year deal, but he may not be the main man in the running game this season. Instead, one of the Falcons’ late-round picks in the 2022 NFL draft could go from obscurity to a key starting role.

That’s the view of one analyst, who believes the Falcons will be better served playing converted wide receiver Patterson in a more versatile role. It will mean handing the featured rushing chores to a rookie.

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5th-Rounder Best Option for Falcons

Tyler Allgeier should replace Patterson as Atlanta’s featured back, according to Football Gameplan owner Emory Hunt. He told the Ross Tucker Podcast: “Allgeier, I think, should be their starting back. That way you allow Patterson to be more of that wild-card piece, as opposed to depending on him to be a foundational guy.”

Hunt added weight to his argument by lauding Allgeier’s all-round game: “I think Allgeier gives you the best of everyone, in terms of being able to block, run, catch the football.”

It’s an interesting take about one of the more intriguing members of the Falcons’ draft class this year. Allgeier didn’t come off the board until the 151st pick. It was a long time to wait for one of the most productive runners in college football.

Allgeier rushed for 1,601 yards and 23 touchdowns during his final season at BYU, per Sports Reference. The same source noted how Allgeier added 28 catches for 199 yards to his stat sheet, proof of the complete skill-set Hunt outlined.

While being able to function as a receiver out of the backfield is a bonus, Allgeier stands out more for what he does as a running back. Specifically, his ability to force missed tackles and gain yards after contact, two areas where Allgeier was among the best in the country last season, according to Jon Macri of Pro Football Focus:

During the last two seasons, nobody forced more missed tackles than Allgeier, per PFF’s Trevor Sikkema. Allgeier first took his game up a level with the Cougars by gaining 1,130 yards on 150 carries in 2020.

To put his elite production into perspective, Jared Smola of Draft Sharks drew this comparison between Allgeier and many of the backs drafted ahead of him:

Statistical disparities likes these are why many are starting to believe Allgeier can outperform his draft status. He’s chosen by Matt Urben of Falcons Wire to be the rookie who surprises this season.

The player himself is confident of making an impact early because of his fit with the Falcons’ scheme, per Falcons Digital Managing Editor Scott Bair: “I think they want a north and south back who can make quick cuts when they need to. I think I fit the program pretty well.”

Those qualities will suit a ground game designed by head coach Arthur Smith. Derrick Henry became a star on Smith’s watch when the latter was offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans, and Allgeier offers some of the same power-back traits.

Falcons’ running backs coach Michael Pitre has already talked up Allgeier’s propensity for punishing defenses, per Ethan Hurwitz of Falcon Report: “Guys have to make a business decision when they have to tackle him in the second half because of his style of play. They have to strap up their chin strap and helmet and make sure, ‘Hey, do we really want to do this through 60 minutes?”

All signs point to Allgeier taking on a bigger role than initially expected, but his chances to be the starter could depend a lot on how Williams performs.

Williams Has Inside Track

While Allgeier has a lot of the physical attributes the Falcons want on the ground, Williams boasts two other essential qualities. Namely, experience and a familiarity with this front office.

The 30-year-old won Super Bowl LIV with the Chiefs following the 2019 season. He joined the Bears two years later on the watch of then general manager Ryan Pace.

The latter is now a personnel executive for the Falcons. Pace has already recruited several former Bears in addition to Williams, including wide receiver Damiere Byrd, offensive lineman Germain Ifedi and linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski.

Williams could be somebody the Falcons lean on early in the season. He’s 221 pounds and can work between the tackles, as well as being a more than useful receiver.

More importantly, Williams has a nose for the end zone, having scored five touchdowns during the Chiefs’ postseason run three seasons ago. Two of those scores came against the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl:

A solid offseason program for Williams should see him sneak into the starting role early and free up Patterson to play wideout more often. This rotation would let Allgeier work in steadily and prove his worth.

Running by committee makes more sense for the Falcons this year than relying on a single featured workhorse.

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