The Atlanta Falcons have three candidates for their leading running back role next season. Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman (a rookie) and Antone Smith. Because of his abilities as a receiver, Freeman is in the lead.
Freeman, a rookie in 2014 out of Florida State, rushed only 65 times in 16 games for 248 yards and one touchdown. But in his limited playing time he managed to catch 30 passes, resulting in 225 yards and a touchdown. The Falcons, with an offense built around Matt Ryan and with a new offensive coordinator in Kyle Shanahan, are looking for another passing option.
In terms of pure running, Freeman isn’t the best player on this team. Coleman, coming out of Indiana, rushed for over 2000 yards last season, making him a third round pick. He’s bound to get touches this season, but a lot? After two years of Steven Jackson, the Falcons don’t want your classing leading running back playing in the backfield.
Smith, another former Florida State player, is only on for special plays. He carried the ball 28 times over the last two seasons for 289 yards. His averages are impressive, but the Falcons have no intention of turning him into a running back that gets a bigger workload.
Coleman might be the workhorse option but Freeman, for his versatility and excellent hands, is in the lead to be the one who gets the most playing time next season.