The future is bright for the Falcons; 2017 mixes young talent with seasoned expertise

Charlie Toole, Sports Section Editor

Feb. 5: Super Bowl

James White just completed the 2-yard run, confetti is falling over celebrating New England Patriots and despairing Atlanta Falcons, and my mind is racing. Every Falcon’s fan is experiencing heartbreak in unison, and time seems to be moving in slow motion. The confetti is still falling. It sways gently back and forth in the air as I analyze every touchdown. Every drive. Every. Single. Play. The future. I can no longer even remember what just happened, I’m only thinking “FUTURE.” Where can we improve? How can we get back? What else do we need?


Apr. 27: Draft beginning

Today is draft day. I’ve been thinking about the Falcons future for 81 days. I have considered everything: where we can improve, how we can get back, and what else we need. We can improve the offensive line with a guard like Forrest Lamp from Western Kentucky. We can get back with a better-structured offense that is more resilient. We need a compliment to our emerged star, defensive end Vic Beasley Jr. We need to win. The draft starts, and at some point in the round, we acquire the 26th pick from Seattle. We pick defensive end Takkarist McKinley from UCLA, and I’m still thinking. This is good, I guess. Now we have the compliment to Beasley, but we have missed out on Lamp, the top guard prospect in the draft, because he will surely be picked soon.


Apr. 29: Draft end

The draft is over, and we have definitely strengthened our roster. We now have much needed depth in more defensive positions, as well as at center. The team isn’t brand new, but it seems like this season could be dominated by Atlanta. With a defense that totaled 34 sacks, 12 interceptions, the additions of McKinley could be a crucial filler to one of the only holes in our defense. Another key edition is Sean Harlow from Oregon state. The young guard is already up to 2nd-string in our depth chart on the left side, which is great news. With the added depth at guard, we can give Matt Ryan more time in the pocket more often and allow him to better his ability to pick defenses apart. The next rookie the Falcons acquired is who I am expecting to have the biggest breakout season, and that’s Duke Riley, linebacker from LSU. The former teammate of one of our biggest rookie success stories from last year, Deion Jones, Riley brings a high level of talent to the team, as well as more depth at linebacker.


Aug. 10: Preseason

In the Falcons first game since the heartbreaker, we faced the Dolphins in preseason in Miami. Our first drive saw the use of offensive starters, and the team was ticking perfectly. Matt Ryan hit all three of his pass attempts (with a little help from a spectacular one handed catch from Mohamed Sanu) and moved the team downfield to a touchdown from Devonta Freeman. Although we went on to lose, the play from the starters was just as cohesive as I had hoped it would be, and there’s no doubt it will carry over into the regular season. With the additions that have been made to an already high-caliber roster, there could be no limit to the Falcons’ potential this year.