Is there a cost too steep to get a player you believe in? What if it's someone who you believe will be a focal point of your offense for the next decade? These are questions fans of the Washington Redskins will be asking in the years to come, and a question Falcons fans got to try and answer over the better part of a year.
The whole story of the 2011 draft may never come to light. Rumors that Atlanta had their sights set on A.J. Green still abound, causing some to speculate that the organization 'settled' on getting the second best WR in the draft in Julio Jones. There's no denying that Green is a stellar receiver in his own right, but when the dust settles it could be Jones who emerges as the best WR in the class.
Yes, I know Green had more receiving yards (98, to be precise), but it's important to remember that Julio Jones missed three games due to injury, while A.J. Green played fifteen games. Jones also had a higher yard per catch average, and more touchdowns. Granted, he had more talent around him and a QB with a better arm, but in terms of a pure receiver there were few who were more electrifying that Jones. In any other season he'd run away with the rookie of the year, but 2011 was no ordinary year.
The receiving corps for the Falcons in 2012 is likely to look much the same as last season. I wouldn't be surprised if Jones passes Roddy White as the team's #1 receiver, but in terms of keeping everyone happy I doubt the team will make any such announcement. Out of the gate the Falcons have one of the best tandems in the NFL- provided they can learn to compliment each other. Perhaps it was the shortened off-season, but there was a distinct air that White and Jones didn't quite know how to play together yet. If they can pull it together in 2012 they'll be fighting the newly forged duo of Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd as the class of the NFC.
At the 3rd WR spot Harry Douglas has always been criminally underrated. He's not a game changing player, and he's not often asked to do much- but he's always there and constantly contributing. In this offense Tony Gonzalez is the true third receiving option, with Douglas the forth and Kerry Meier a distant fifth. It's Meier who could be unseated by one of the team's UDFA players. Both James Rodgers and Cody Pearcy are small statured guys, but each have the ability to play on special teams, which gives them a shot. Ultimately I think only one makes the 53, and I'm going with Rodgers.
Projected Depth Chart
WR1: Roddy White/ Harry Douglas/ James Rodgers
WR2: Julio Jones/ Kerry Meier