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NFL Atlanta Falcons

5 Unheralded Atlanta Falcons Who Must Step Up In 2014

5 Unheralded Atlanta Falcons Who Must Step Up in 2014

Mike Smith Falcons
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons set out to beef up their offensive and defensive lines in free agency. They wanted to add not only size, but also toughness to both sides of the ball in the trenches. They successfully signed and re-signed five defensive linemen and two offensive linemen. Several holes remain, including the ones at safety, tight end and offensive tackle.

These five players are not household names, but they need to step up in 2014.

5. Drew Davis, WR

Drew Davis Atlanta Falcons Training Camp
Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

5. Drew Davis, WR

Drew Davis Atlanta Falcons Training Camp
Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

With Julio Jones recovering from injury, Drew Davis may find himself in an expanded role at the beginning of the season. When finally given the opportunity last season, Davis showed size, speed and the ability to get open in the Falcons' offensive scheme. His best game of the year came against the Cardinals when he caught five passes for 74 yards and a touchdown. At 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, there is certainly potential for Davis to become a weapon.

4. Corey Peters, DT

Corey Peters
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

4. Corey Peters, DT

Corey Peters
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Although the Falcons brought in two new defensive linemen this offseason, Tyson Jackson and Paul Soliai, neither offers much as a pass rusher. These two linemen are here to beef up the line, occupy blockers, and provide a foundation for stopping the run. This carves out a nice role for Peters as an interior pass rusher who can get pressure up the A gap. Last season, before going down to injury, Peters racked up five sacks and 15 total pressures.

3. Robert Alford, CB

Robert Alford Atlanta Falcons Training Camp
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

3. Robert Alford, CB

Robert Alford Atlanta Falcons Training Camp
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Desmond Trufant received all the accolades for an incredible rookie season, and rightfully so. But don't forget about his partner in crime, Robert Alford. After a rocky start to the season, Alford showed incredible improvement over the course of his rookie season. Don't forget, he was a second-round draft pick after Trufant. It didn't take him long to pass Asante Samuel as the starting left cornerback, and he will stay there in 2014.

2. Joe Hawley, C

Joe Hawley Atlanta Falcons
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

2. Joe Hawley, C

Joe Hawley Atlanta Falcons
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons re-signed center Joe Hawley this offseason after he stepped up and finished 2013 on a high note. Hawley needs to take one more step forward in 2014, and he needs to solidify himself as not only the center, but also the leader of the offensive line. It will be important for him to become well-versed with all of Matt Ryan's checks and audibles so he can pass them along the line and get everyone set for each play.

1. Paul Worrilow, Middle LB

Paul Worrilow
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

1. Paul Worrilow, Middle LB

Paul Worrilow
Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

After signing last offseason as an undrafted free agent, Paul Worrilow shocked many Falcons followers by quickly rising to the occasion at middle linebacker following the injuries at that position. Worrilow was a tackle machine in his first opportunity at a major role. In one three-game stretch, he racked up 54 total tackles! This season, it will be important for him to improve his level of play and become the "quarterback of the defense."