The Atlanta Falcons had one of the most unusual seasons of any team in the NFL last year, with former third-round pick Desmond Ridder struggling mightly at times and ultimately dragging down a team with seriously high expectations to a 7-10 record, which was good enough to finish third in the NFC South but not strong enough to earn a Wildcard berth or give owner Arthur Blank enough hope to bring the Cincinnati product or his head coach, Arthur Smith, back for another shot in 2024.

Fortunately, Blank was willing to get aggressive this offseason, and between signing the biggest QB fish on the free agent market and making one of the most controversial drafted selections fans have seen in years – literally – the Falcons have loaded up on new talent in a unique way that is sure to define their 2024 season for better or worse.

But recall, if you will, that the team made other additions to their roster that aren't solely related to the quarterback positions, and now find themselves with a few very interesting options on their roster who could play deceptive roles in 2024 and beyond, including an intriguing second option at tight end and a hybrid wide receiver/special teamer who could pay dividends in the new kickoff game.

Keep an eye on these two Atlanta Falcons hidden gems.

Dec 1, 2018; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs tight end Charlie Woerner (89) runs the ball against Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Deionte Thompson (14) during the second quarter in the SEC championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Georgia Bulldogs tight end Charlie Woerner (89) runs the ball against Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Deionte Thompson (14) during the second quarter in the SEC championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

2. Charlie Woerner

Now normally, adding a second-string tight end in free agency isn't something to write home about, as frankly, the Falcons didn't even use superstar prospect Kyle Pitts up to expectations in 2023, but after saying goodbye to Arther Smith in favor of the one-two tandem of Raheem Morris at head coach and Sean McVay disciple Zac Robinson at offensive coordinator, it's really anyone's guess as to how Atlanta will deploy their offensive weapons moving forward and who exactly will play where.

If, for example, Woerner becomes a simple backup who works in 12 personnel and whenever Pitts needs a breather, then his addition to the roster really doesn't justify being a “hidden gem,” but if the former eighth overall pick out of Florida is instead used as a supersized slot with Drake London playing at the X position on the line of scrimmage, well, then he might just be a top-five offensive weapon for the Falcons, with the potential to eclipse his former career high in snaps, 312, by a few hundred.

In San Francisco, Woerner, a former sixth-round pick out of Georgia, was never going to become a fixture of the offense, not with George Kittle in front of him on the depth chart, anyway. But back in his home state of Georgia, playing a few short miles away from his college home? Who knows, maybe he's learned a thing or two from the All-Pro tight end during their four years together, and he's finally ready to break out as a complementary player next to Pitts, London, and company.

1. Ray-Ray McCloud III

Keeping things in the San Francisco-to-Atlanta pipeline, one of the more unheralded additions to the Falcons' wide receiver room is none other than Ray-Ray McCloud III, a former sixth-round pick out of Clemson who has split time on offense and special teams through the first six years of his NFL career.

Now at best, McCloud is likely fourth on the Falcons' depth chart if he makes the team at all, but with Scotty Miller and Cordarrelle Patterson following Arthur Smith to Pittsburgh, where he became the new offensive coordinator of the Steelers, Atlanta could be on the lookout for a new return man, especially with the new rules the NFL has implemented to make the play all the more interesting and hopefully a bit safer, too.

If that's the case, McCloud may be in luck, as his skill set, when coupled with his experience, makes him a perfect fit for the role, especially considering the other options Atlanta has on their roster.

Standing 5-foot-9, 190 pounds, McCloud didn't do anything particularly well at the 2018 NFL Draft Combine, but what he lacked in measurables – running just a 4.53 40 – McCloud makes up for it in return man ingenuity, as he's taken back 108 kicks for 4,725 yards and an average return of 22.6 plus 138 punts for 1,326 yards with an average return of 9.6 yards. Throw that all together, and you have a player who could be a serious asset for the Falcons this fall if he makes the roster, especially considering he's also a viable gimmick player on offense who caught 26 balls for 378 yards and a touchdown over his two years in San Francisco and padded that out further with seven more runs for 108 yards and another touchdown.