Expectations for the Atlanta Falcons’ 2022 season are not high, especially with the adventurous offseason they have had. After shipping out Matt Ryan and losing Calvin Ridley to a year-long betting suspension, times are looking rough for the Falcons as they try to find a new identity for themselves.
Marcus Mariota has been brought in this offseason as the first option to try and be the long-term QB solution, yet Arthur Smith’s offensive attack is likely not going to be all that efficient with plenty of holes in it. Defensively, A.J Terrell and Grady Jarrett are the two big names for this team, yet with Deion Jones likely having played his last snap for Atlanta, they lose a big part of their defensive identity.
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Falcons Breakout Players For The 2022 NFL Season
3. Desmond Ridder
It is going to be the Mariota show to begin the year as he was signed for too much money to not get that chance. But rookie Desmond Ridder is likely the heir apparent for the Falcons roster, even with the franchise-altering 2023 NFL Draft looming.
Ridder’s dual-threat abilities defined his draft stock during his time in Cincinnati, and while he fell in the draft, he brings a lot to the table that resembles a bunch of what Mariota can do now, but better. With another year of living in the toilet bowl, the Falcons should shift to Ridder around the halfway mark, at which he will be given a great shot to showcase his talents and put his name on the radar.
Expecting a breakout season from a rookie not given regular playing time until eight games have passed is a bit of an odd take on the term ‘breakout,’ but Ridder looks to be a plug-and-play option for Atlanta, even with the expected rookie speedbumps along the way.
2. Arnold Ebiketie
Another rookie on this list, Penn State’s Arnold Ebiketie is already the best pass rusher on this team and the second-best defensive lineman, behind Jarrett. The 23-year-old has a ton of potential and a high ceiling, two aspects that back up his early second-round draft capital.
15.5 sacks and 28.5 tackles for loss over four years at Temple and Penn State speak to his ability to get after the ball carrier and into the backfield. While teams likely will semi-game plan to slow Ebiketie down, his skill set is developed enough for him to be able to make some noise right away in his freshman campaign in the league.
1. Drake London
With this roster mostly devoid of build-around talent, it is a no-brainer that Drake London is at the top of this list. The USC product was the first-round selection for the Falcons this past draft, and his high draft selection was more than justified.
Even if Ridley was not suspended this season, the Falcons were desperately needing another WR for whomever their QB was to target. With London becoming the top option now for Mariota/Ridder, his ceiling is quite high, and a potential 70/1,000/7 season is in the realm of possibilities for London.
Combining London and Pitts on this offense gives them a fantastic 1-2 core to build around, and with Pitts having burst onto the scene last year, it is London’s turn to make noise during the 2022 season.