#5: Center, Todd McClure (2000-2012)
As great as Tyson Clabo was for the Falcons’ there is little doubt in my mind that McClure is the best Falcons’ offensive lineman over the past 10 years. McClure was the heart, soul and mind of a Falcons’ line whose mid-2000’s rushing attack dominated the league and lead the league from ’04 to ’06. While Vick was a large part of the reason for Atlanta’s rushing dominance, Warrick Dunn and Michael Turner both achieved a large amount of success behind the McClure lead line. While McClure was never named to the pro-bowl and generally received little recognition outside of the ATL he was integral to the Falcon’s offensive success over the last 10 year and would have no doubt had success despite being 37 years old in 2013 despite his age. Without McClure’s veteran presence the offensive line was left in complete shambles, most notably the interior which proved to be by far the worst in the league. Furthermore, McClure is the Falcons’ ironman having started a franchise record 148 consecutive games, and missing only 3 games over 12 seasons. A team’s best offensive lineman is usually their most reliable; McClure is absolutely no exception
|141 Games Started||141 Games Played|
#4: Half-back, Michael Turner (2008-2012)
Atlanta ran Michael “The Burner” Turner into the ground and there was nothing left for him to give us. The two-time probowler and two time all-pro was arguably the most important cog in the machine that was the Falcons’ offense in recent seasons. Of the 5 seasons that Turner spent in Atlanta, he finished top 3 in rushing yards on three separate occasions (’08, ’10 and ’11). Turner was without question incredibly productive, putting up over 6,000 yards and finding the end-zone 60 times. Outside of the obvious production, he was also one of the many keys to Matt Ryan’s early success in the NFL by taking a great deal of pressure off of Ryan, allowing Ryan to develop at his own pace without and rely on the rushing attack to lead the team to multiple playoff appearances. While Turner’s final year in Atlanta was certainly unspectacular, Michael Turner’s success throughout his Falcons’ career in unparalleled. While Turner may not be not as beloved as Warrick Dunn there should be little contest between the two. If Turner’s play hadn’t hindered him so much in his final season and forced Ryan and the passing attack to fuel the offense with such little help he may have ended up higher on this list.
|75 GP||2 x All-Pro
1st ’08 (2nd ’10)
|2 x Pro-Bowler
|6081 Rushing Yards (4.3 YPC)||60 TD|
#3: Quarterback, Matt Ryan (2008-Present)
I honestly feel horrible putting arguably the best Falcons’ quarterback of all time at #3. Ryan has done so much to turn our franchise around and joined the organization at the perfect time; Roddy in his prime, the acquisition of Turner, and now paired up with Julio Jones. Ryan has nowhere to go up on this list, and if this list considered projections. But still, over his six seasons with the Falcons has taken the team to the post-season 4 times. He was the 2008 Offensive Rookie of the year and is a two-time pro-bowler. What always impresses me the most however is the fact that despite playing 4 less seasons than Falcons’ great Steve Bartkowski, Ryan holds a massive chunk of franchise records (Granted, Ryan plays in an entirely different era) and leads the franchise in most wins by a QB. Matty Ice is exactly what the Falcons needed exactly when we needed him. Had he been drafted and started a couple years earlier he would probably be #1 on this list.
|94 GP||2 X Pro-Bowler
|23,472 Yards||153 TD||77 INT||63.70%||90.6 Rating|
#2: Defensive End, Johnathan Abraham (2006-2012)
I’ll probably get some crap for putting Abraham higher than Ryan, and maybe I deserve it. My mind went back and forth on who to place at #2 at least 20 times. I decided on Abraham though for two main reason. First, Ryan was fortunate enough to have a very strong run game to lead him into the league, greatly lowering his load (Although he could have likely performed equally as well without such Turner leading the offense). Following from that, is that Ryan has had a great deal of weapons working with him to produce his stats. I hate hearing that, and last season was proof that Ryan can produce on his own volition. But frankly outside of Babineaux, Abraham has been the “guy to stop” on the Falcons defense. Despite offensive lines being able to focus a great deal of attention on him, Abrahm amassed an impressive 68.5 sacks, 24 forced fumbles and 204 tackles. If not for only being, by far, the Falcons best defensive player on our team over the last decade, Abraham finds himself on #2 on my list.
|102 GP||1 x All-Pro
|68.5 Sacks||24 FF||20 PD||1 INT|
#1: Wide Receiver, Roddy White (2005-Present)
There should be little surprise that the longest-tenured Falcon over the last 10 years, is also their greatest. White is simply put, the best Falcon reciever in franchise history and the stats support it. After a slow(er) entering the league while playing with Michael Vick, White exploded in the 2007 season and proved to be the only offensive weapon during the darkest time in the Falcons 48 year history. Since then, Roddy has been named 1st team all-pro once (’10) and was to the pro-bowl for 4 straight seasons, from ’08 to ’11. White holds almost all major all-time-franchise records, and is only 2 TD short from stealing the all-time touchdown record from the great Andre Rison. Roddy,, was for quite some time the best Falcon on the team and the face of the franchise. Through the highs and lows Roddy has always been reliable and counted upon. For that reason, along with consistently great production, I believe him to be the greatest Falcon of the past decade.
|141 GP||1 x All-Pro
1st Team ’10
|4 x Pro-Bowler
|685 Receptions||9436 Yards||55 TD|
13. Offensive Guard, Justin Blalock
12. Defensive End, Patrick Kerney
11. Wide Reciever, Julio Jones