Skip to main content

Falcons emphasizing speed at wide receiver in 2024: 'Slow feet don't eat'

The Falcons' wide receiver room is leaner, younger and faster this season to best complement quarterback Kirk Cousins. 

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — The Atlanta Falcons will trot out a revamped offense in 2024. It's inevitable, with a new head coach, coordinator and quarterback. Those are three key cogs in any offensive system, after all.

So, what's to be expected?

"Ball's gonna be in the air," wide receiver Drake London said.

He and his fellow pass catchers better go get it then.

Obviously, that's always the goal for that position group, but the team sought a different type of skillset when acquiring players this offseason. Where the Falcons differ this year is their blatant emphasis on speed. Even that tracks back to the man behind center, Kirk Cousins.

"Getting faster for a quarterback that's seen it all, it's a really cool situation to have because we'd like to dictate what goes on in a stadium on a weekly basis," Falcons wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard said. "The faster we can play, the more efficient we can play, hopefully the more points we have."

Last season's roster featured larger bodies. The top three targeted wide receivers were London, Mack Hollins and Van Jefferson. All checked in at least 6 feet and 200 pounds.

This year, at least on paper, the top three are London, Darnell Mooney and Rondale Moore. London is the largest by far at 6-foot-4 and 213 pounds. Mooney is 5-foot-11 and 173 pounds, while Moore is 5-foot-7 and 180 pounds.

The 2024 receiver group, for the most part, is leaner.

"It's just the type of play style we're trying to play," London said. "It's really, really fast. You got to be in condition. I think that speed is a killer in this game. If you have it, you can win a lot of things."

The Falcons didn't just seek to get faster and lighter at the position, though. They are also slightly younger.

London, Hollins and Jefferson averaged out to 26 years old. London, Mooney and Moore do so to 24. The eldest in each trio is 30 and 26, respectively.

"Everybody's doing their best," Hilliard said. "It hasn't been an eyesore with the youth, and that's exciting for myself personally, as a group and for everybody involved. We like this room."

There are exceptions to this offseason's rules, of course.

KhaDarel Hodge, for example, is older at 29 years old but fits the size adjustment at 5-foot-11 and 183 pounds. Then, there's rookie Casey Washington, who's the opposite at 23 years old but 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds.

But even for the exceptions, the expectations remain the same.

"We got guys that can run," Washington said. "Most importantly, we can't run without the ball. For me, it's making sure – for one – I'm getting into that playbook and cleaning those things up but (also) catching the ball and running after the catch and just practicing with the same intensity that I plan to play with."

There's proof the guys can run, too.

Moore boasts the fastest 40-yard dash, clocking a time of 4.29 seconds at his pro day in 2021. Mooney covered that distance in 4.38 seconds at the NFL Combine in 2020. Hodge posted a time of 4.39 seconds in 2018 at his pro day, and Washington delivered a 4.46-second effort earlier this year at his pro day.

London doesn't have an official dash because he skipped the event in 2022 due to a lingering ankle injury. He chose to let his tape speak for itself. The Falcons ultimately drafted him at No. 8 overall, and he has been their leading receiver ever since.

"Slow feet don't eat," London said. "So, you got to have fast feet."

Related Content