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 a long-term QB solution, yet Arthur Smith’s offensive attack is not going to be all that efficient enough in the holes. Defensively, AJ Terrell and Grady Jarrett are the two big names for this team, yet with Deion Jones playing 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’s going to be the Mariota show to start the year as he was signed for not getting much money. But rookie Desmond Ridder is likely to appear 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 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 a regular playing time until eight games 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.
At 15.5 sacks and 28.5 tackles for loss over four years Temple and Penn State speak to his ability to get the ball carrier and into the backfield. While teams will likely slow down Ebiketie’s semi-game plan, his skill set is developed enough for him to make some noise right away in his freshman campaign in the league.
1. Drake London
With this roster of recent devoid of build-around talent, it’s 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 their high draft selection was more justified.
Even if Ridley wasn’t suspended this season, the Falcons were desperately needing another WR for whomever their QB was to target. With London being the top option for Mariota / Ridder now, his ceiling is quite high, and a potential 70 / 1,000 / 7 season is the realm of possibilities for London.
Combining London and Pitts on offense gives them a fantastic 1-2 core to build around, and with Pitts bursting onto the scene last year, it’s London’s turn to make noise during the 2022 season.