Atlanta Falcons: Backup Tight End is the Team’s Only Upgrade

Atlanta Falcons, Luke Stocker (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Atlanta Falcons, Luke Stocker (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /
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Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons, Luke Stocker (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

The only true upgrade the Atlanta Falcons have made in the 2019 free agency period is the signing of backup tight end Luke Stocker. Stocker caught 15 passes for 165 yards and two touchdowns for the Tennessee Titans last season. He is a nine-year veteran and is best known as being a crushing blocker. A positive about Luke, is that he did not commit a penalty in 370 snaps last season. Kit Anderson covered the story of his signing here.

Luke Stocker had a superb season, tying as the fifth highest rated tight end in the NFL by Pro Football Focus. While he certainly isn’t a top five NFL tight end, the ranking does show that Luke excelled in his role. He earned a grade of 76.7 on the season. As a receiver he graded a respectable 78.7. He also graded a stellar 78.6 as a pass blocker and a decent 66.6 grade as run blocker.

The added bonus of signing Luke Stocker is he is able to play the full back position as well. This position has been a problem since Pro Bowler Patrick DiMarco departed for the Buffalo Bills. Last season starting fullback Ricky Ortiz played only 139 snaps, with a grade of just 62.5. The signing of Stocker could make Ortiz expendable. Another positive with Luke Stocker is that he has experience playing under tight ends coach Mike Mularkey in Tennessee, as well as offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In addition the Falcons resigned reserve tight end Logan Paulsen. Paulsen played in all 16 games, logging 362 snaps. He was graded a 62.9 overall by PFF, and was especially good as a pass blocker, registering a grade of 71.3. With the signings of Paulsen and Stocker adding to the stable of starting tight end Austin Hooper and backup receiving tight end Eric Saubert, the Atlanta Hawks are very likely to keep four tight ends for the first time in many years. Having a unit of dependable tight ends, could also lead to the return of more three right end packages. These packages were very successful under former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan.

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With the fact that the Atlanta Falcons have made very few improvements in free agency, the remaining holes on the depth chart must be filled via the draft. Depth on the defensive line and offensive line should be the team’s priority. Our Deke Lloyd breaks down the teams biggest needs in this article. The fact is that in order for the Dirty Birds to return to Super Bowl contention, the team must hit a home run in the upcoming NFL draft.

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