Overlooked Man at RB Could be a Weapon for Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons running backs Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier get the headlines, but Jase McClellan could find a role as a rookie.
Atlanta Falcons sixth-round pick Jase McClellan was a standout for the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Atlanta Falcons sixth-round pick Jase McClellan was a standout for the Alabama Crimson Tide. / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), the Atlanta Falcons have one of the most promising running back rooms in the NFL with a No. 5 unit ranking. This fact should excite fans and make them eager for the upcoming season.

Most people are familiar with the names at the top of the Falcons' depth chart, but what about 6th-round pick Jase McClellan?

Second-year running back Bijan Robinson is leading the charge at the position finishing 10th in the NFL in yards from scrimmage in 2023. Expectations are even bigger this season with more efficient quarterback play to open up defenses and unlock Robinson's pass-catching ability.

Second on the depth chart is Tyler Allgeier, who is entering his third season with the team. After averaging 4.9 yards per carry in his rookie season, Allgeier – like Robinson- did not see efficient running numbers in the unbalanced former head coach Arthur Smith’s offense. However, he did see an improvement in the receiving department. 

The former BYU standout averaged 10.7 yards per reception in his second season compared to his 8.7 in 2022. 

With a power tandem at RB1 and RB2, the team thought it would be in their best interest this offseason to finish out the running back by committee compliment in the sixth round of the 2024 NFL Draft. 

Jase McClellan’s journey to Atlanta has been an eventful one. 

Jase McClellan’s background

McClellan is a native of Aledo, Texas, where he played high school football. Considered a four-star prospect, he was the No. 7 running back nationally by 247Sports. McClellan was a menace on the football field, earning MVP honors as a freshman in the state championship game. Initially, he was committed to being an Oklahoma Sooner for two years of high school before flipping to join head coach Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide.

After receiving minimal playing time outside special teams during his first year at Alabama, McClellan got his chance to shine in his sophomore season, which was cut short after he suffered a torn ACL while facing Ole Miss. It was one of the most challenging experiences of his football career. 

“It was just a hard process,” McClellan told FalconsSI. “That was one of my first injuries, and it being that big, just not knowing how to process it. Having to talk to people and see what to do. Just trusting the rehab, trusting the process. 

But the Texas native never gave up and bounced back from that injury better than before for his junior and season seasons. 

“That (injury) just made me stronger, made me want to keep going.”

After playing 44 games under Nick Saban at Alabama, he had a 5.6-yard-per-carry average and a 10.2-yard-per-reception average for his collegiate career. 

He kept going as a standout special teamer and a back who showed the ability to catch, pass, protect, receive, and rush the football, all with equal effectiveness. Falcons’ general manager Terry Fontenot also saw the same qualities listed above. 

“A natural runner,” Fontenot said. “Physical, strong back that’s three-down in terms of what he can do in the pass game — he can pass protect, catch the ball. Very excited about him, another top makeup guy.”

As a rookie in Atlanta, his expectations versus what he produces on the field as a running back could have vastly different looks. 

What to expect from Jase McClellan in 2024.

Presumably, McCllelan will have to fight for the RB3 spot in training camp in a few weeks with third-year running back Avery Williams and two undrafted rookies, Carlos Washington and Robert Burns.

Seeing that Atlanta brought in ace returner Ray-Ray McCloud, Williams will have to fight for the punt return job he held in 2022 before missing last season with injury. Williams could struggle to make the team.

He'll have some catching up to do after missing minicamp and OTAs with a pre-draft injury. However, Considering that the Alabama standout thrives in many areas, he has a good chance of being the team’s RB3 heading into the season. 

Regarding what to expect, he will be a primary member of special teams. Additionally, he will get limited opportunities in the ground game. He is a patient rusher, and with the Falcon's elite interior offensive line, he could very well provide the explosiveness that was seen at Alabama. 

All in all, he could fill out head coach Raheem Morris’s running back room well. With offensive coordinator Zac Robinson at the helm, expect him to carve a niche for McClellan, and as someone who has shown remarkable resilience and hard work, expect him to seize whatever opportunity is placed in front of him as a rookie.

CJ Errickson