Soon after he joined the Falcons, Taylor Gabriel made a name for himself as a fast, reliable wideout with a knack for making big plays. As the Cardinals learned better than anyone, he was especially productive on screens: According to Pro Football Focus, the Abilene Christian product finished the regular season with 12 catches for 144 yards and two touchdowns – both against Arizona – when catching the ball at or behind the line of scrimmage.
For those efforts, PFF's Eliot Crist said Gabriel ran screen routes better than every other receiver in the NFL last year.
"Taylor Gabriel is small in stature at 5-foot-8 and 165 pounds, but he is an explosive player. Aware of Gabriel's playmaking ability, the Falcons asked him to pick up big chunks on screens, as all 12 of his targets came where the distance to a first down was over 9 yards," Crist wrote.
"Gabriel had a near-perfect receiver rating of 156.3 — highest in the league — when he was targeted on screens. … Gabriel averaged 15.83 yards after catch on screens, and his two touchdowns came gaining over 25 yards after the catch (29, 40 yards)."
Just three receivers gained more yards on screens in 2016 than Gabriel, and he was the only one to score multiple TDs on that route.
"It makes your job pretty easy as a quarterback to just flick it out there and then watch," Matt Ryan said about Gabriel's playmaking after the Falcons took down the Cardinals. "Taylor finished it off really well. He made great individual plays on both of those to get in the end zone. They were huge for us and got us going with critical plays."