The Atlanta Falcons failed to clinch a playoff berth for the second straight season under Dan Quinn. Despite going 6-2 in their final eight games of the season, the Falcons finished with a 7-9 record in 2019.
It goes without saying that it was a dismal year for an Atlanta team that is littered with talent. Still, there were players that produced notable seasons for the Falcons in 2019.
Of course, Matt Ryan and Julio Jones continued to be a bright spot for Atlanta. Additionally, Calvin Ridley proved once again that he could become a mainstay in the offense moving forward.
On the other hand, there were players who disappointed for the Falcons in 2019. Among them, Takkarist McKinley put together another season that questions his legitimacy as a former first-round pick.
Heading into the offseason, there were players that provided some optimism for the future. In light of that, here are the three players who improved the most for the Falcons in the 2019 season.
3. Vic Beasley
Back in 2016, Vic Beasley seemed to be transforming into one of the best up-and-coming edge rushers in the NFL. The former eighth overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft tallied 15.5 sacks, 11 tackles for loss, 16 quarterback hits, and six forced fumbles in 2016.
Since then, the once-promising pass rusher has left a lot to be desired. In the two seasons prior to 2019, Beasley managed to accumulate only 10 sacks, 15 tackles for loss, 13 quarterback hits, and one forced fumble.
But in 2019, Beasley provided the fans in Atlanta with a glimpse of what he was three seasons ago. Over the course of the regular season, the Clemson product totaled eight sacks, eight tackles for loss, 12 quarterback hits, and two forced fumbles. There’s no doubt that Beasley showed improvements as he heads into free agency this offseason.
2. De’Vondre Campbell
When watching the Falcons play in 2019, it was evident that the defense was the most glaring weakness for the team. Despite their noticeable faults, De’Vondre Campbell was a bright spot for the defense.
Campbell was a fourth-round pick for the Falcons in the 2016 NFL Draft. Even though he was a mid-round selection, the Minnesota alum immediately became a starter in Atlanta’s defense.
In his first three seasons in the NFL, Campbell’s career-high in tackles was 94 and he only had one interception. However, in 2019, Campbell refined his game and recorded 129 tackles, two sacks, three forced fumbles, and two interceptions.
1. Austin Hooper
Austin Hooper sitting at the No. 1 spot on this list shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. The Falcons’ offense is predicated on throwing the ball and most believe Jones and Ridley are the only ones catching passes. But over the past couple of seasons, Hooper has grown into being one of Ryan’s favorite targets.
Last season, the pass-catching tight end hauled in 71 passes for 660 yards and four touchdowns. As for this season, the fourth-year tight end was able to corral 75 receptions for 787 yards and six touchdowns.
If Hooper didn’t suffer a knee injury and didn’t miss three games, there’s a decent chance he eclipses 1,000 receiving yards in 2019. The former third-round pick chose a perfect time to have the best season of his career as he heads into free agency.