The Atlanta Falcons are a bit desperate for more wide receiver depth. But maybe they have a player no one expects already on the roster that can help fill that void.
At least ESPN’s Michael Rothstein says they could. Rothstein named former undrafted rookie wide receiver Josh Ali the team’s surprise offseason standout.
“In Atlanta’s wide-open receiver room after Drake London, it is an almost-unknown player who has stood out,” Rothstein wrote. “Ali, who was on the practice squad last season after suffering a knee injury late in his college career at Kentucky, worked a bunch in 2022 with Falcons starting quarterback Desmond Ridder. That chemistry has shown, and Ali has gotten work with the veterans, usually a good sign for a player with 14 career snaps and one career target.
“Will he make the team? It’s unclear. Has he put himself in a potential position out of spring? Quite possibly.”
It would be a big booster for the Falcons if he not only made the team but contributed in a significant way. General manager Terry Fontenot signed three wide receivers, Mack Hollins, Scotty Miller and Penny Hart, in free agency, but they all have their own questions marks.
Hollins posted 690 receiving yards last year. But that’s the only campaign in six NFL seasons where he had more than 230 yards.
Miller has recorded just 223 yards over the past two seasons. Finally, Hart has only caught 11 passes in his entire career.
In a bit of a surprising move, Atlanta didn’t draft another receiver to supplement these free agents. The Falcons are counting on these three, along with perhaps KhaDarel Hodge and Frank Darby, to support top wideout Drake London.
If Ali is ready to perform, though, that would be a big boost to the unit.
At Kentucky, Ali recorded 131 receptions, 1,447 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns in five seasons from 2017-21. He played in two games last season as a rookie. He received 1 target but didn’t record another stat on 14 offensive snaps.