NFL.com's Bucky Brooks recently named 10 second-year pros on the rise, and Atlanta's Devonta Freeman made the list at No. 9.
"The arrival of new Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan could help Freeman crack the 1,000-yard mark as a first-time starter," Brooks said. "Shanahan is installing a zone-based running scheme ideally suited to Freeman's talents as an explosive one-cut runner on the perimeter."
When he spoke at OTAs in May, Freeman, 23, expressed a similar sentiment.
"The way this offensive scheme is set up is perfect," he said. "You definitely got to be in shape, be able to run fast and make good reads. The outside zone scheme is great for us.
"I'm very happy and thankful that we got this offense. I want to try to maximize myself — not just be one of the running backs."
The Florida State product will compete with third-rounder Tevin Coleman, who racked up more than 2,000 rushing yards as a senior, for playing time. As mentioned last week, their battle is shaping up to be close througout 2015.
And, while Coleman may emerge as a starter, Freeman has several elements working in his favor — namely his mental approach, pass-catching ability, compatible skill set and fierce work ethic.
Said Brooks: "Although he could share the workload with rookie Tevin Coleman during the early part of the season, Freeman possesses the kind of talent as a runner that typically produces big numbers in a scheme that emphasizes efficiency and discipline at the point of attack."