While the Saints have struggled with their tight ends since 2015, it has been much longer for the Atlanta Falcons. The last Falcon tight end to present a challenge for defensive coordinators was Tony Gonzalez back in 2013, when the Hall of Famer had 83 catches for 839 yards and 8 touchdowns. What separates the Saints and Falcons is that Atlanta might have the solution to their problem already on the roster.
23 year old Austin Hooper is entering his third season as a professional and is a popular breakout candidate. After a quiet rookie season, many expected that breakout to come last season, but they were a bit too hasty; Hooper tallied 49 catches, 526 yards, and three touchdowns. While those aren’t groundbreaking statistics they are still fine for a second year tight end. His athleticism stands out among the typical tight end, and he seems to get down the field in a hurry for a 240 lb. man. Hooper is also a solid blocker. More will be expected from Hooper this season, though.
Levine Toilolo and Eric Saubert are the other two Falcon tight ends of note, though neither provided much in 2017. With the Falcons not adding any tight ends this off-season it seems like they’re going to trust in the development of Hooper and let Toilolo and Saubert provide depth and second starters in two tight end packages. Considering how many other options the Falcons have in the passing game I can understand them going this route.