Head into the year with a limited end situation that is not among the league's most exciting–especially since the Bucs along with O. J. Howard and Cameron j. Brate is in the same division–but their particular depth chart should quietly end up being excellent.
That's chiefly due to Austin tx Hooper, who still feels like a good underrated player despite having a Professional Bowl season where he was among the league's better receivers at the place and a fine blocker as well. Digging in Luke Stocker to a group that will already have Eric Saubert, (eventually) Logan Paulsen again, and 2 interesting practice squad stashes within Alex Gray and Jaeden Graham should make for an eventful summer season.
We're particularly interested in the fight for the third tight end show. It's not yet clear whether the Falcons will keep four at the position–Dirk Koetter likes having a lot of tight finishes when he can–but that 4th guy is likely to be a gameday non-active a fair amount of the time. The third gamer here could have a real role, particularly if Stocker takes on a part-time show as the team's de facto fullback.
We talked about Saubert's chances the other day, so won't spend a ton of period on him in this particular fight preview. Who wins?
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Logan Paulsen, 32, entering their 2nd season with Atlanta
Paulsen would feel like a slam dunk if not for the addition of Stocker. He's coming off a time of year where he was extremely effective as a dependable set of hands when called upon (which was rarely, but still) and also a terrific blocking tight end. On the phone to lay much of the fault with this team's sometimes shaky ground sport on him.
The problem for Paulsen really is just that Stocker is now right here, and while duplicating a well-rounded gamer is not a problem, the Falcons would certainly basically be leaning on 2 guys who have combined for about a hundred and fifty career receptions in 15 months if anything happened to Hooper. The Falcons don't exactly possess a bunch of quality pass-catching choices behind Hoop, to begin with, but exactly what does Paulsen offer that Stocker isn't going to?
The biggest thing might be that he is actually a semi-proven receiving limited end. He caught every basketball thrown his way in 2018 and when to put up 53 receptions and four TDs in a two year period in Washington, so if a larger function was needed, Paulsen could get the job done. Otherwise, his best case is exactly what he's been his entire profession: A very good blocker and a useful participant overall. If he winds upward being the third tight end, Soon we will be a little disappointed that we're never going to get to see Saubert turn into anything within Atlanta, but it'll be perfectly validated based on his track record.
Eric Saubert, 25, entering his 3rd time of year with Atlanta
We talked about Saubert yesterday and how he needs a great summer to carve out any kind of a genuine role, but his upside remains interesting due to his athleticism. At least, Saubert has improved as a blocker and has carved out one of the team's larger roles on special groups, even if that's on shakier terrain with a new special teams coordinator becoming a member of the team. Another strong summer season could give Saubert a strong situation, given that he's under contract for the following two seasons.
Alex Gray, twenty-eight, entering his 3rd season along with Atlanta
Gray is deeply interesting but basically unknown. It's not exactly that we've never seen him enjoy, but that he was formerly the rugby guy (that's the official term) in England and thus we have virtually absolutely nothing to go on in terms of what he can perform on a football field. Gray's experienced two seasons on the practice team and has consistently drawn praise with regard to how far he's come, but again, irritating to indicate how strong his likelihood of hanging on are.
The big extras: He's athletic, has had two years to soak up everything he can and he's simply signed a two-year offer, meaning the Falcons are at minimum hopeful he can contribute. For now, Gray's more of a name to file aside as a sleeper than anything else, using Koetter coming to town it's possible can push his way into a roster spot and a real role.
Jaeden Graham, 23, entering his second season in Atlanta
The odds don't appear to favor Graham, which is a pity because he's also an interesting gamer. He snagged four touchdowns in only ten starters as a senior in Yale, turned in solid-to-strong measurables before joining the Falcons, and quickly shone in the preseason in 2018. He's a strong candidate to stay on the practice squad for a 2nd season, but it'd be the main surprise if he pushed their way into a roster spot, a lot less the third tight end gig.
And the winner is…
I still believe it'll be Saubert, who has shown a few growths over the last two seasons and it has enough upside as an option within the passing game to be worth Koetter's time. He'll likely be locked into a battle with Paulsen throughout the summer, whilst Alex Gray will push to get a fourth spot on the depth graph if there's one to be experienced. The team will be strong plus pretty deep at the position, possibly the strongest and deepest they've been given that Tony Gonzalez was still around.