Between discussion of the Falcons big free agents John Abraham, Brent Grimes, and Curtis Lofton, we may be overlooking an important piece of the Falcons new offense: Harry Douglas. The problem is we know what type of players Abraham, Grimes, and Lofton are, but Harry Douglas is still shrouded in some Mike Mularkey-based questions.
Similar to endangered animals, third wide receivers in a Mike Mularkey scheme are rarely seen, and many question whether or not they actually exist.
Why is that? Even with injuries that limited Julio Jones to only 13 games, with some games playing sparingly, the Falcons number three receiver played on only 55.4% of all offensive snaps. For reference, the Panthers third wide receiver, Brandon LaFell, played 65.9% of all offensive snaps.
However, when Jones left the first New Orleans Saints game due to injury, Douglas came through with 133 yards on 8 catches, more yards than Jones gained in any game. Douglas had five other games where he managed more than 40 yards, despite minimal playing time.
Douglas is also a perfect slot receiver. He is explosive with great hands and is a great matchup in that position. Mularkey tried to make Douglas the Falcon’s deep threat, but he lacks the top end speed to be a true deep threat. He is best at using his quick burst to get separation against a linebacker or safety.
Now we wonder where Harry Douglas will be next year.
Some think that Douglas will try the open market and attempt to become a #2 wide receiver in the NFL. He certainly has the ability to do so, but the idea of him going to receiver-starved Jacksonville to play for the man, Mike Mularkey, who did such a poor job integrating him into the offensive gameplan, is hard to imagine. Douglas may not have blown up the way many thought he would after his impressive rookie year, but that has nothing to do with him or his ability.
Rotoworld suggests Atlanta may try to use the three-year, $9.4 million contract given to James Jones as a starting point for negotiations. He may balk at such a price if he believes he can get more money elsewhere, but he should be an important player for the Falcons to lock up.
Dirk Koetter seems intent on using a different passing game in which Atlanta will actually use more than two wide receivers. Koetter has previously used a “four vertical” offensive gameplan that will require a quality wide receiver behind Roddy White and Jones.
Should we keep Harry Douglas, or does anyone believe we can do better in the draft, free agency, or even our own roster?