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Question of the Week: What are reasonable expectations for Drake London, Kyle Pitts, Bijan Robinson and the Falcons' skill players?

With Kirk Cousins and a new scheme in place, the recent investments made in Atlanta's offensive weapons could have a big payoff in 2024. 

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – The quarterback position has largely dominated the conversation when it comes to the Atlanta Falcons this offseason, but we're here to correct that.

After all, the Falcons have invested valuable draft capital in some of the most exciting offensive prospects in recent years. There have been more than enough moments the last three seasons to prove that Kyle Pitts, Drake London and Bijan Robinson are all special talents.

The addition of a high-caliber quarterback in Kirk Cousins and an offensive scheme known for proficiency through the air provide an added layer of excitement for what is possible. If Cousins and offensive coordinator Zac Robinson can help the trio reach new heights, the Falcons will certainly make their own ascension.

So, what should we expect for the Falcons' offensive core this season? Our writers have a few thoughts on the matter.


Tori McElhaney: Do I think we will ever see Kyle Pitts have the production he did in his rookie year? Perhaps not. The offensive weapons around him have grown too much. However, do I think we could see something closer to that production? Absolutely. And maybe it's wishful thinking, but I think we could see that production soon.

Pitts is as healthy as he's been since sustaining a season-ending knee injury in his sophomore season. You saw him out at practice almost every day this spring. And, yes, he looks the part. His get-off is fast. His breaks are crisp. His form has returned. As Raheem Morris said not too long ago: A healthy Kyle Pitts is a dangerous Kyle Pitts, and someone the Falcons think very highly of. And for good reason, too.

This 2024 season is a linchpin for Pitts and the way we talk about him in the years to come. He's on the back half of his rookie deal, with the Falcons having picked up his fifth-year option this offseason. He's coming off a couple years in which his production hasn't been close to what it was with Matt Ryan as his quarterback in 2021. He only has six total touchdowns to his professional name. When it comes to Pitts, there is room for so much more. And if there ever was a year to see more, it's this year with Kirk Cousins as his quarterback, a group of skill players who can alleviate some of the secondary's pressure off him and a weapon with health on his side. The upcoming season is shaping up to be the best set-up yet for Pitts.

Will McFadden: I'm genuinely excited to see Pitts and London this season with Cousins behind center and a different offensive design in place. However, I'd argue that Robinson came closest of all three top-10 picks to reaching the first-year expectations that accompany such a lofty selection.

Robinson ranked No. 12 in total touches last season. He turned those 272 touches into 1,463 yards, which were 10th-most among all offensive skill players. He had plenty of opportunities, and I think he did a lot with them. However, the reason I'm so excited for what No. 7 can do in Year No. 2 is because there is still room for improvement both within the player and within a new scheme.

Robinson scored eight touchdowns last season, which ranked No. 33 among skill players, but he frequently ceded carries to Tyler Allgeier the closer Atlanta got to the goal line. That's not necessarily a bad thing – Allgeier is an excellent player in his own right – but a new play-caller may have a different philosophy. Robinson also ranked No. 47 in time spent behind the line of scrimmage on rush plays, averaging 3.06 seconds per Tru Media. That can partially be attributed to scheme, but I think Robinson will also be more decisive as the game continues to slow down.

Like the Falcons, the Rams boasted one of the league's best rushing attacks last season, a sharp turnaround from their performance in 2022. That was partially due to a change in their run scheme to a more gap- and power-based approach. For example, Kyren William ranked No. 6 with 2.65 seconds spent behind the line of scrimmage.

Robinson should be coming downhill more frequently, and he will continue to get chances in space. The right combination of those elements should lead to more explosive plays and hopefully another big step forward for the second-year playmaker.

Terrin Waack: Sure, those are the Big 3. Their names have been and will be talked about throughout this year. But I want to give my early flowers here to wide receiver Darnell Mooney.

I think the new Falcons member is going to pop off in 2024, and I'm not the only one.

"He's a down-the-field player, yards-per-catch guy," wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard said. "He's an excellent route runner. He's very, very instinctive. Great hands. Great after the catch. I think you're going to see some unique routes from him that you haven't seen in years past."

Years past. That's where my interest piques.

The Chicago Bears drafted Mooney in 2020 and, he appeared in 60 games throughout his four years there. Mooney's best season came in 2021 when he put up 1,055 yards receiving on 81 catches with four touchdowns. But then his production declined, in part due to injury. His 2022-23 numbers combined — 71 receptions for 907 yards and three touchdowns — don't even equal that of the year prior.

The Atlanta front office sees something in Mooney, though. Perhaps 2021 was his norm, not the exception. Otherwise, why would the Falcons want to bring him in?

While Mooney may not be the go-to guy – that's likely going to continue as London – he should be a very solid second option. In fact, with how folks around Flowery Branch were speaking about Mooney during the offseason, he very well may find that 2021 groove again. Mooney could be the perfect dance partner for London.

Amna Subhan: Drake London will have his first 1,000-yard season in 2024. In fact, I think that's just the floor of his expectations this year. I don't think it's unreasonable to believe he'll surpass that.

Under Falcons offensive coordinator Zac Robinson's wide-receiver-focused system, paired with an established veteran quarterback in Kirk Cousins, expect London to take a step up — or a few — in his third season.

London flirted with that 1,000-yard total in his previous two seasons racking up 866 and 905 yards in the last two seasons, respectively. If you look deeper at Cousins' numbers, his top receiver gained at least 1,000 yards in each full year in Minnesota. That should be London this season.

I'm not going to put a prediction on London's touchdown total for 2024, but let's just say it should be more than the two he recorded last season. Much more.

There's a lot of expectations on London, but the former No. 8 pick anticipates a lot for himself this season, too.

"(I want to) be an all-around wide receiver, be somebody who could take over games, and just be a great teammate," London said after minicamp practice. "I think that I could take a step up in a lot of those things, and I think I should."

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