Editor's note: This series evaluates Scott, Tori, and Kris' favorite picks from the NFL Draft.
Down 21-14, early in the third quarter of the Independence Bowl, BYU handed the ball off to running back Tyler Allgeier. He got the ball and stopped, almost Leveon Bell-like, as he waited for a running lane to develop, and as soon as a lane opened, he shot through it, all the way to the end zone for a 62-yard touchdown.
Allgeier finished with 27 carries for 192 yards and three touchdowns in his final college game. That game was the tape that won Arthur Smith and the Falcons front office over, and they knew that if Allgeier were available when he was the top player on their board, they would get him.
"Watch that bowl game he played," Smith said. "That will tell you everything you need to know about him."
"Four down player," General Manager Terry Fontenot said. "First and second down, the way he can run the ball, the way he can catch it, he can protect. Fourth down the value he can bring in our kicking game; he fits our ethos."
The Falcons running back room will look much different next season. The Falcons released Atlanta native Mike Davis, who had 503 yards and three touchdowns last season, after the draft. Allgeier will join a running back room with former Chiefs running back Damien Williams and Cordarrelle Patterson, who will likely split time at receiver as he did last season.
While in Tennessee, Smith tailored his entire offensive around Derrick Henry, who led the league in rushing during Smith's two years as offensive coordinator. He used play-action shots to receiver A.J. Brown, which was effective for the Titans. That does not mean that Smith will try and build the running game around Allgeier or any other back on the team, especially with the weapons at tight end and receiver, but that the running back position is vital in Smith's offense.
And Allgeier is the kind back that Smith loves.
He can juke and run around defenders if he needs to, but he is generally looking to make contact with defenders and lower his shoulder. He was third in the nation in total rushing and his 1,847 yards after contact since 2020 were the most in the FBS, per Pro Football Focus. He says he models his game after other physical, bruising running backs in Nick Chubb and Marshawn Lynch, and believes running through defenders is the best way to play football.
Atlanta Falcons have drafted BTU running back Tyler Allgeier in the fifth round.
In his post-draft press conference, Arthur Smith said that the running back room was wide open. Last season Patterson led the team in rushing yards and touchdowns, but overall the running game struggled. The Falcons were second-worst in the league in rushing yards per game at 85.4, just ahead of the Houston Texans.
And the running game wasn't just a 2021 issue.
The Falcons rushing attack has been a perennial struggle spot for the team. Their 27th place finish in 2018 was their highest in the past four seasons, when Tevin Coleman led the team with 800 rushing yards. The Falcons have not had a thousand rusher since Devonta Freeman ran for 1,079 yards in the 2016 season.
Allgeier plays with the style and physicality that Smith covets in his players. Allgeier changing the Falcons' running game in his rookie season seems unlikely, but he could be the face of the Falcons' backfield soon.