Tyler Allgeier was a hidden-gem sort of a find for the BYU football program — he joined the team as a walk-on in 2018 and left as one of its most productive running backs in school history.
The Atlanta Falcons — who selected Allgeier in the fifth round of the 2022 NFL draft — are searching for consistent, explosive production out of their running game, something the bruising back ended up providing for BYU the past two seasons.
Could Allgeier play a significant role in helping the Falcons reverse their running game woes?
In his postdraft press conference, Atlanta coach Arthur Smith called the Falcons’ running back competition wide open and praised what he saw on film from Allgeier.
“We love his yards after contact. Love the mental makeup,” Smith said, per ESPN. “Think he’s a guy that should come in here, if he’s not contributing on first, second down right away, he’s a guy, hopefully, who helps us on fourth down.
“But the opportunity is there.”
Allgeier will get his first taste of NFL camp when the Falcons host their rookie minicamp Friday through Sunday.
What does Tyler Allgeier bring to the Atlanta Falcons?
The rookie Allgeier is the youngest of five running backs on the Falcons’ roster at 22 years old.
He is coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons for BYU, the last of which set a single-season rushing record at the school.
During the 2021 campaign, Allgeier rushed for 1,601 yards and 23 touchdowns, tied for the most rushing touchdowns by an individual at the Division I level.
The 5-foot-11, 220-pound back hails from Fontana, California, and left BYU following his junior season to pursue a pro career.
“(He’s a) four down player,” Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot said of Allgeier, according to team writer Kris Rhim. “First and second down, the way he can run the ball, the way he can catch it, he can protect. Fourth down the value he can bring in our kicking game; he fits our ethos.”
Who besides Tyler Allgeier is in the Atlanta Falcons’ running backs room?
Cordarrelle Patterson: The 31-year-old veteran is headed into his 10th NFL season and led the Falcons in rushing last season with 610 yards and six touchdowns.
He’s more of a hybrid player — Patterson has eight career kick return touchdowns, and he was drafted as a wide receiver in 2013 and mainly played that position before making a full-time move over to running back last season in his first year with the Falcons.
Patterson also caught 52 passes for 548 yards and five touchdowns last year.
His 11 touchdowns more than doubled the total from any other skill position player.
Patterson re-signed with the team this offseason on a two-year, $10.5 million deal, per Spotrac.
Damien Williams: The 30-year-old back who won a Super Bowl ring three seasons ago with the Kansas City Chiefs joined the Falcons as a free agent this offseason.
He has mainly filled a complementary role throughout his career — Williams’ best season came in 2019 when he had 498 rushing yards for the Chiefs, and he’s rushed for 1,395 yards over seven seasons.
He signed a one-year deal with the Falcons in March and could be another veteran presence who provides quality touches.
Caleb Huntley and Qadree Ollison: These two are depth pieces, players who are familiar with the Falcons’ scheme and are the two youngest running backs on the team besides Allgeier — Huntley is 23 and Ollison 25.
Huntley signed with Atlanta as an undrafted rookie free agent last year and did not play in a game.
Ollison, like Allgeier, was a fifth-round pick, going to Atlanta in 2019. He’s played in 19 career games over three seasons and has 44 career carries for 158 yards and five touchdowns (four as a rookie).
Who’s gone from the Atlanta Falcons’ running back group?
Mike Davis: The 29-year-old back was released by Atlanta following the 2022 draft, a move that saved the team $2.5 million against the salary cap, according to CBS Sports.
Davis, who signed with the Baltimore Ravens on Tuesday, was the team’s second-leading running back last season — putting up 503 rushing yards and three touchdowns. He was seen more as a lead-back option, a role that never panned out, and he was released before the second year of his two-year deal.
Wayne Gallman: The 27-year-old is a free agent after rushing for 104 yards last season.
How does Atlanta’s running attack rank in the NFL?
The Falcons had the second-worst rushing attack in the NFL last season — their 85.4 yards-per-game average was better than only Houston, and nearly seven yards fewer than the next-worst team.
Atlanta averaged 3.7 yards per carry, one of only six teams to average fewer than four yards per carry.
How will Tyler Allgeier fit into the Atlanta Falcons’ running back rotation?
Smith’s history with one of the most dominant running backs in the NFL today — the Tennessee Titans’ Derrick Henry — could be a sign for how the Falcons eventually envision using Allgeier, if he pans out as a power back.
Smith, who’s headed into his second season as the Falcons head coach, was the offensive coordinator for the Titans when Henry used his bruising style to lead the NFL in rushing in back-to-back years. In 2019, Henry went for 1,540 yards and 16 touchdowns, then followed that with 2,027 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns in 2020, earning NFL Offensive Player of the Year honors.
“Allgeier plays with the style and physicality that Smith covets in his players. Allgeier changing the Falcons’ running game in his rookie season seems unlikely, but he could be the face of the Falcons’ backfield soon,” Rhim wrote.
Another wrinkle in Allgeier potentially earning more touches early in his career involves Patterson. ESPN’s Michael Rothstein recently told SiriusXM, “I think the Falcons could line up Cordarrelle Patterson at wide receiver more than running back next season.”
Though Atlanta used a top 10 first-round pick on USC wide receiver Drake London in the draft, Patterson could be needed more at the wideout position.
Earlier this offseason, the team’s leading wide receiver, Calvin Ridley, was suspended for at least the 2022 season for betting on NFL games, and another top wide receiver, Russell Gage, is now in Tampa Bay.
That may necessitate Patterson lining up more at receiver, and opening the door for Allgeier to compete for more touches.
“There will be opportunity for Allgeier to make an impact as a rookie,” Rothstein wrote. “There is even a chance he ends up as the team’s opening day starter in September because it’s a room that’s wide open. It would have been that even if Davis had remained on the roster.”