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Devonta Freeman, RB (ATL)

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So FF owners are smart enough to understand value, but NFL management teams have no clue? That's your position?

Unless you saw the ATL scouting reports and draft board, you have no idea what value they put on Freeman. So supposing by using draft slot is inaccurate.

A FF owner who may think Tony Romo is going to have a top 5 QB year but doesn't draft him in the 1st round because of the value QBs have and his perceived value by other FF owners - so he waits and drafts him in the 6th round and uses earlier draft picks on players with higher value because it makes for a more capable and competitive team.

Do you honestly think that NFL teams don't make the same kinds of assessments - only with much more data and collective knowledge and experience along with investigation? You have no idea what value ATL actually put on Freeman, nor do I. To think that their drafting him in the 4th round only makes him a peripheral piece is a leap that I'm guessing you don't have near enough facts to support.

I really have no idea how Atlanta rated Freeman; they may have put a first round grade on him. You could probably say that about each player drafted after the second round. Every evaluator and team has a different take on each player, sort of making the process that much more interesting.

More importantly, the rest of the NFL let Freeman fall to the 4th. In this way, the draft serves as a consensus. The more well recognized talent a player has, the sooner he gets drafted. The Falcons got Freeman in the 4th because they didn't need to get him any earlier.

Edited by cloppbeast

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As mentioned previously, RBs are getting drafted later and later. The past two years the top RBs off the board were in the 2nd round. So if a team is waiting until the 4th round to grab a RB, it doesn't necessarily mean they view him as a 4th round talent, but merely that it is a position that is more fungible and can be waited on.

I do agree with this argument to an extent, but the effect gets overstated. We're only 2 years removed from Richardson getting drafted in the top 10. The last two drafts didn't have a running back drafted in the 1st, which probably accounts for the combination of lacking talent (perceived) and devaluation of running back.

How much sooner do you think Freeman goes 5 years ago? IMO, at best he may go 15 or 20 picks sooner if that; and we're just speculating at this point.

Edited by cloppbeast

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There are two arguments against the draft slot in this case. The first is that there was a diverse group of backs this year. Sankey was a good fit for a team that needed a complete back, because he's good at everything but unspectactular at any specific thing. There was a short list of guys who could fill that role, so it makes sense that he was the first taken. Hyde was a complete back, too, but a little bigger and he's not the same kind of receiver. Still, he's a great fit in San Fran, where they have a big o line that can open up holes, a mobile qb who can keep teams from bringing inside pressure, an athletic tight end who can stay in and block or run a solid route tree, and one of the best blocking WRs in the league. They're going to wear down defenses. A guy like Andre Williams is a perfect fit for Coughlin. He's worked with all kinds of backs, but he likes big backs. And he cannot lie. Sims is a good pass catching back who is a great complement to Martin and a good enough runner that he could take a part in a committee. Seastrunk was even more skewed towards pass catching, so he appeals to a team that has a solid runner and pass blocker but needs a package guy for passing downs.

Freeman is a little bit smaller, so a lot of those teams weren't even looking at him. And he doesn't have great speed, so some other teams scratched him off their board. But he's a complete back. He can run between the tackles and get outside, he can catch the ball, he can pass protect, and he can score. He's a great fit for a team with an established passing offense that needs a back to take the pressure off their offense. If he's good enough to start - and the coach and GM talked openly about him being a lead back and a future three down guy - then he doesn't have to be good enough to carry a bad offense on his own. He doesn't need to break a 60 yard run. He needs to help them move the chains, get the easy yards when Ryan thinks the defense is soft, and he needs to be good enough at everything that opponents can't tee off on the run when he comes in the game.

So the first point is that he was a good fit for the offense that ended up taking him, but a bad fit for some of the RB needy teams that picked backs ahead of him. The second point is that calling him a fourth round pick is kind of like calling Carr a second round pick and Bridgewater a first. It sounds like a huge dropoff, but in reality, it was only a couple picks, and it wouldn't be surprising to find out that Oakland liked Carr better than Bridgewater all along. Freeman was one of the first guys taken on day three, which is actually pretty meaningful in a deep draft - not because it means he's better than other fourth round picks, but because the guys who go early on day three are usually guys who slipped on day two, the guys who stand out on draft boards and everyone's jockeying to get them. The early picks in rounds two and four are every bit as interesting to me as the players who were taken at the end of rounds one and three.

So while I do agree that it's meaningful that he got taken later in the draft than other backs, I don't think there's a linear relationship between draft slot and ability. I think guys in the early fourth are similar to guys in the third, and I think the guys taken in the third were all good backs with different plus attributes and different blemishes who ended up on teams that liked the things they were getting. But most importantly, I think Freeman was a good fit for Atlanta, and the comments from the coach and GM about him being their lead back and three down back in the future tell me that he's got an opportunity to be a quality fantasy starter early in his career.

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snip

Great post. Nice to see some posters here can analyze and respond without having to perform a bunch of chest-puffing. Well done.

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There are two arguments against the draft slot in this case. The first is that there was a diverse group of backs this year. Sankey was a good fit for a team that needed a complete back, because he's good at everything but unspectactular at any specific thing. There was a short list of guys who could fill that role, so it makes sense that he was the first taken. Hyde was a complete back, too, but a little bigger and he's not the same kind of receiver. Still, he's a great fit in San Fran, where they have a big o line that can open up holes, a mobile qb who can keep teams from bringing inside pressure, an athletic tight end who can stay in and block or run a solid route tree, and one of the best blocking WRs in the league. They're going to wear down defenses. A guy like Andre Williams is a perfect fit for Coughlin. He's worked with all kinds of backs, but he likes big backs. And he cannot lie. Sims is a good pass catching back who is a great complement to Martin and a good enough runner that he could take a part in a committee. Seastrunk was even more skewed towards pass catching, so he appeals to a team that has a solid runner and pass blocker but needs a package guy for passing downs.

Freeman is a little bit smaller, so a lot of those teams weren't even looking at him. And he doesn't have great speed, so some other teams scratched him off their board. But he's a complete back. He can run between the tackles and get outside, he can catch the ball, he can pass protect, and he can score. He's a great fit for a team with an established passing offense that needs a back to take the pressure off their offense. If he's good enough to start - and the coach and GM talked openly about him being a lead back and a future three down guy - then he doesn't have to be good enough to carry a bad offense on his own. He doesn't need to break a 60 yard run. He needs to help them move the chains, get the easy yards when Ryan thinks the defense is soft, and he needs to be good enough at everything that opponents can't tee off on the run when he comes in the game.

So the first point is that he was a good fit for the offense that ended up taking him, but a bad fit for some of the RB needy teams that picked backs ahead of him. The second point is that calling him a fourth round pick is kind of like calling Carr a second round pick and Bridgewater a first. It sounds like a huge dropoff, but in reality, it was only a couple picks, and it wouldn't be surprising to find out that Oakland liked Carr better than Bridgewater all along. Freeman was one of the first guys taken on day three, which is actually pretty meaningful in a deep draft - not because it means he's better than other fourth round picks, but because the guys who go early on day three are usually guys who slipped on day two, the guys who stand out on draft boards and everyone's jockeying to get them. The early picks in rounds two and four are every bit as interesting to me as the players who were taken at the end of rounds one and three.

So while I do agree that it's meaningful that he got taken later in the draft than other backs, I don't think there's a linear relationship between draft slot and ability. I think guys in the early fourth are similar to guys in the third, and I think the guys taken in the third were all good backs with different plus attributes and different blemishes who ended up on teams that liked the things they were getting. But most importantly, I think Freeman was a good fit for Atlanta, and the comments from the coach and GM about him being their lead back and three down back in the future tell me that he's got an opportunity to be a quality fantasy starter early in his career.

Good post though, even if I disagree. We're here to enjoy a thoughtful debate, right?

You're absolutely correct about round distinction inaccurately portraying a player's draft status. Sometimes a third and fourth rounder only differ by one pick. While the Vikings got Jerick McKinnon in the 3rd, they still took him only 7 slots ahead of Freeman. It's not entirely fair to arbitrarily label Freeman a 4th round pick; but how about we call him an early 4th rounder?

To your first point though, I don't pick up what you're putting down. For one thing, imo this stock of running backs doesn't have more variety than any other. More importantly, I don't see how it diminishes the significance of Freeman's draft status. The gist I get from your first argument: the Falcons got a running back for their needs - meaning not an elite one. This explains Freeman's draft status more than the diversity of running backs, imo.

Edited by cloppbeast

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None of the backs in this draft were elite. That's the whole point. There was very little consensus on who the number one back in this class was, and there were ten backs who slipped into the conversation of top five in the class. This class was deep with good backs but didn't have much in the way of true studs.

Which is why I don't think you can say the guy picked fourth is better than the guy picked fifth. The team picking fourth liked the guy they picked for the things they wanted to do with him, and the team picking fifth obviously liked the guy they got, too, or they wouldn't have taken him. If they were similar players, where one was just a little bigger or faster or better at something, then you could say rb4 wzs better than rb5.

But I don't think that was the case with this rb class, or with the teams who ended up drafting backs. I think hyde is objectively better than williams, because they are similar backs and nyde was taken first. I think sankey is objectively better than freeman, because they are similar backs and sankey was taken significantly earlier. I would even say that hyde was objectively better than freeman, because hydes flaws (wiggle and receiving) were less significant than freemans (speed, and to a lesser extent, size). But williams or mckinnon vs freeman or sims or sankey? They're just different types of guys, and the teams that picked them got the kinds of guys they wanted. I dont think you can say that freeman is worse because he was picked later in that group. I just think he was one of several guys in that tier and was picked by a team that thought he fit. at 1.1, there was a legitimate debate between taking the consensus best player in the draft, or the best outside linebacker, and a 3-4 team seemed to be seriously considering the olb. In the third and fourth rounds, there's not even a debate. Unless theres a significant difference in talent, you take the guy who fits your system.

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This is a player I am interestedv in seeing if he can unseat Jacquizz for #2 spot. Looks like he has potential 3 down ability. If Jackson stumbles, could be a good and realistic opportunity for him to ascend.

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He reminds me a lot of a young frank gore. Not that flashy, but enough juice even to beat/elude defenders. Fights hard for every yard and is hard to takedown on initial impact. And from all accounts excels in pass-pro. I see no reason he cant be a solid every down back. Pretty sure that's his role next year on this team, and will definitely be a player this year, SJax way too old/beat up to make it thru a full season. Devonta will have his moments this year

Edited by Da Gildz

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http://www.thefalcoholic.com/2014/7/28/5943393/falcons-training-camp-review-day-three

Running Backs

Steven Jackson looks like he still has a chip on his shoulder. Even though he is over 30, he seems to be in amazing shape and still appears to have good burst. I think he's going to have a big impact this year.

Interestingly, Josh Vaughn was receiving quite a few snaps with the first team as a WR. I'm not sure what to think about it, but it's definitely something to keep an eye on.

Devonta Freeman demonstrated his explosiveness all afternoon. Every time he touched the ball, he seemed to burst through the line or demonstrate his quickness. If he continues this way, he could earn some meaningful snaps during the season.

One last thought: of all the offensive formations I saw today, very few featured a full-back. Almost all of them featured 1RB with the rest of the skill positions occupied by WRs and/or TEs. This could signal a change for the offense, though I'm hesitant to make any conclusions this early.

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I'm grabbing him in every league I can this year. He is going to shoot up draft boards after his exposure on Hard Knocks. His size and speed don't blow anyone away, but he is an EVERY DOWN BACK, and I expect him to be able to play it at the next level.

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Im pretty sure the question remains ( How soon is too soon in rookie drafts )

id start to consider him right after Hyde goes off the board.

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He started going around 1.9 to 1.10 in a lot of my PPR dynasty drafts. At worst, maybe he falls to 2.2 (but less likely now)

Pretty psyched to have gotten him at 2.03 (15 overall) in a league.... it felt like a mild reach at the time, but knew I wanted him and now I'm glad I did it. :)

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In a 14 team PPR that drafts before the NFL, I was psyched to get him at 2.08. My comment posted with the pick at the time, on April 27th:

Other than an advantage in long speed, I don't really see a reason why Sankey is considered to be the best jack-of-all-trades, high-floor RB in this draft over Freeman. Makes no sense to me.

Edited by ConnSKINS26
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This means that Jackson is low mileage, low wear/tear, and has a lot left in him.

Tread is what you want to have on your tires. Lots of tread is a good thing.

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I don't wanna see this turn into the bullet train or anything, But I like this guy.. I was tempted to bump the post recently just reading more about the person, much less the player.

Now I believe theres a chance that some expert might have a real knock against Freeman. Id enjoy hearing it, even if its not from you, but a Source you trust.

Personally my only concern would be drafting a slightly bigger back, in an earlier rnd next Season. In other words, IF Jackson is done, Atl goes into the draft looking for value at the RB position for depth.

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I don't wanna see this turn into the bullet train or anything, But I like this guy.. I was tempted to bump the post recently just reading more about the person, much less the player.

Now I believe theres a chance that some expert might have a real knock against Freeman. Id enjoy hearing it, even if its not from you, but a Source you trust.

Personally my only concern would be drafting a slightly bigger back, in an earlier rnd next Season. In other words, IF Jackson is done, Atl goes into the draft looking for value at the RB position for depth.

I would say that it's unlikely but Freeman is basically the same size as Gio and they just spent an early round pick on Hill. I think it's fair to say that all the Freeman owners would be pleased if he turned out to be Gio as well.

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Atlanta has a tough schedule for RBs this year, and their OL isn't that great at run blocking.

Yeah that's some real solid points (but the SOS may not be half bad). I would assume most D's wont plan to put 8 in the box too (Wide receivers)

My concern would be Atlanta's Defense allowing the other team to run at will. It takes several things for a run game, and Time is crucial..

I forget where I was viewing SOS, but Im figuring it should be positive (more Wins >> better Teams) I believe the Falcons were 4-12 last Season

Edit// See post below mine #2 SOS

Edited by Dismattle

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This year Atl. has the 11th hardest sos. Last year they finished with the 3rd most difficult schedule (Bucs were 1st). If you buy into end of season sos, the teams with the hardest schedules should be better than their records indicated.

Clayton's SoS position breakdown list has Atl. With the 2nd hardest schedule for RBs.

Edited by Quez

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Atlanta has a tough schedule for RBs this year, and their OL isn't that great at run blocking.

Who do you think that hurts more? SJax or Freeman? Or just the entire running game?

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Wouldn't tough SOS vs the run lead to more reception opportunities for RBs? IIRC, that was one of Freeman's strengths.

I think a tough schedule vs the run leads to less total production from the RBs, which is the biggest concern.

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S-Jax pulled hammy and is expected to be ready week 1. Probably just an excuse to sit out of camp. Either way good news for Freeman who will likely see plenty of work with the 1st unit.

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S-Jax pulled hammy and is expected to be ready week 1. Probably just an excuse to sit out of camp. Either way good news for Freeman who will likely see plenty of work with the 1st unit.

I was at camp today and FYI, Quizz took all of the 1st team snaps, Freeman on second team. I do agree that it could likely change soon when Freeman gets up to speed.

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S-Jax pulled hammy and is expected to be ready week 1. Probably just an excuse to sit out of camp. Either way good news for Freeman who will likely see plenty of work with the 1st unit.

I was at camp today and FYI, Quizz took all of the 1st team snaps, Freeman on second team. I do agree that it could likely change soon when Freeman gets up to speed.

You won't slow down this train.

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Well, there goes any chance of getting him on the cheap.

Time to get SJax on the cheap now!

True, but still not expecting much. I'd only feel comfortable with Jackson as a flex. The line still needs some polish, and, as much as a fan I am of Jackson, he's slowing down. That worries me more than the other backs at this point. Freeman may end up really taking off if he picks up the offense quickly.

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Quizz...I feel like I have seen enough but when he is running with the 1st time while SJax is out, can Quizz be that 12-15 point consistent guy everyone wished he would be for flex spots? He can catch with seasons of 52 and 53 but he hasn't cracked 400 yards rushing once in the 3 seasons he has been in the league.

Gotta be either Jackson assuming he is healthy of Freeman who we really don't know a lot about but we have seen the other guy plenty and he is not a starting NFL RB.

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I was optimistic when I drafted Freeman with 14th pick of the rookie draft, as I saw Jackson declining.

If the draft was now, no way I could get him again. Still, as positive the news from the camp are about his skill,

I stay realistic. Can he handle three downs and stay healthy? Next year after the draft, there might be some

competition for Freeman if he does not show he can carry the load this year. But the chance is there and

many players don't even get that...

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I am actually looking forward to Hard Knocks this year.

I am too. Who knows. The show could open a nice trade window for Freeman or reassure people who drafted him, depending on where you lean between optimism and doubt. Hard Knocks can be like an infommercial for certain players.

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Just fyi he was picked 8th (7th offensive player) yday in our rookie draft.

Edited by msommer

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I have the 1.09 in an upcoming rookie draft and I've seen his ADP rise steadily every week. Now I'm doubtful I'll be able to grab him at this position (sucks, since I'm also the SJax owner in this league).

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I have the 1.09 in an upcoming rookie draft and I've seen his ADP rise steadily every week. Now I'm doubtful I'll be able to grab him at this position (sucks, since I'm also the SJax owner in this league).

Agreed. Just mulling through thoughts from fellow league mates of mine that draft after me at 1.1, I think he goes between 1.5 and 1.7 in my main league.

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My draft starts next Saturday... fully expecting Freeman to come off the board in the 1.07-1.10 range now.

That's the problem with August drafts, IMO.

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Nice as an owner to to see his value is rising. Someone in my league just offered me Dri Archer for Devonta Freeman and I was like "wtf? did I miss something?"

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I think Frank Gore is a pretty close comparison to Freeman. They both ran a 4.58, but Gore is an inch taller band about 10lbs heavier.

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I think Frank Gore is a pretty close comparison to Freeman. They both ran a 4.58, but Gore is an inch taller band about 10lbs heavier.

I thought you were crazy until I looked it up. It's mind blowing to me that the only difference between Gore and Gio is 9 pounds and one is considered a small change of pace guy and the other is a big power runner.

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I think Frank Gore is a pretty close comparison to Freeman. They both ran a 4.58, but Gore is an inch taller band about 10lbs heavier.

That's exactly who Freeman looks like watching his highlights. He's a Gore clone. Whether that translates to the NFL, guess we'll see..

Edited by Da Gildz

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I think Frank Gore is a pretty close comparison to Freeman. They both ran a 4.58, but Gore is an inch taller band about 10lbs heavier.

That's exactly who Freeman looks like watching his highlights. He's a Gore clone. Whether that translates to the NFL, guess we'll see..

That's a compliment beyond measure, as Gore is one of the best RB's I've had the privilege to watch all these years. If he is 80% of Gore, he will have a good career.

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Falcons ready rookies Freeman, Matthews

Sports Xchange

July 30, 2014 at 11:21 am

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Two rookies could start in the Atlanta Falcons’ star-studded offense.

Onlookers suspected offensive lineman Jake Matthews, the sixth overall pick in the draft would start. The question was whether he’d start at left tackle or right tackle. He’s appears to have already locked down the right tackle spot.

Few suspected fourth-round pick Devonta Freeman was in line to be a centerpiece of the first team when the Falcons open the regular season.

But after running back Steven Jackson, who turned 31 three days before the start of training camp, couldn’t make it to the second padded practice, the Falcons are preparing Freeman to be ready to start.

Jackson suffered a right hamstring injury, the fourth consecutive season that he’s suffered a soft-tissue injury early in the season.

Falcons head coach Mike Smith pointed out that it was not the hamstring that Jackson injured last season, when he suffered an injury to his left hamstring in the second game of the season. Smith said he expected Jackson to ready for the season-opener against the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 7.

As a fallback, running backs coach Gerald Brown has to get Freeman ready to play just in case Jackson is not able to make it back. Jacquizz Rodgers, who used to split the backup duties with the retired Jason Snelling, hasn’t shown that he can carry the load of a featured back.

Freeman, 5-foot-8, 206 pounds, rushed 173 times for 1,016 yards last season and became Florida State’s first 1,000-yard rusher since former Falcon Warrick Dunn accomplished that feat in 1996.

“He catches the ball so well out of the backfield, I can see his role in future being one where he’s in there in passing situations,” quarterback Matt Ryan said. “He’s got some things to learn when it comes to pass protection, but when you see him in space, he’s really, really talented.”

Freeman’s work with the ones is a surprise, but Matthews appears to be everything that Falcons wanted.

Edited by BigSteelThrill

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