The Falcons’ fourth-round draft pick, Devonta Freeman, may be the most popular rookie on the team, more so than offensive line stabilizer Jake Matthews or beastly D-lineman Ra’Shede Hageman. In Freeman, many see a dual-threat back, capable of grinding yards between the tackles, but also a threat out of the backfield as a receiver. Those kind of players are exciting and generate buzz among the fan base.
We’ve already heard that Freeman’s potential shouldn’t be limited to just a “change-of-pace” role, but because he didn’t catch the ball a ton in Florida State’s offense, there were questions about Freeman’s ability as a receiver. A closer look at what Freeman did as a pass catcher at FSU indicates a player that shouldn’t be overlooked in a receiving role for the Falcons.
As a junior in 2013, Freeman caught 22 passes for 278 yards and one score. It’s a small sample size for sure, but look at what he did with those receptions for an average of 12.64 yards per catch. Of those 22 catches, 10 went for first downs, six went for 15 yards or more and three produced 25 yards or more. Freeman’s long was 45 yards.
As a sophomore, Freeman caught 10 passes for 86 yards with a long of 28 yards. Two of his receptions earned first downs and two gained 15 yards or more (one 25+ yard reception). Despite limited action as a freshman, Freeman caught 15 passes for 111 yards with a long of 21 yards and six for first downs.
Freeman will compete in a crowded backfield with Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers, Antone Smith, Josh Vaughn and fellow rookie Jerome Smith for spots on the roster and touches in the regular season.