In 2018, Ito Smith and Tevin Coleman were the primary beneficiaries of Devonta Freeman’s knee, foot, and groin injuries. Coleman went to the San Francisco 49ers in the off-season, which makes Smith the second running back on the depth chart, per ESPN and CBS. Smith received a little bit of hype back in February when Head Coach Dan Quinn said he expects Smith to have a “significant increase” in offensive opportunities. The Falcons used both of their first-round draft picks on offensive linemen. They selected Chris Lindstrom with the 14th overall pick and Kaleb McGary with the 31st pick. Our offensive line expert, Justin Edwards, projects the offensive line to improve this season and ranked them as the 15th best offensive line in the NFL.
Smith played 14 games last year but did not take full advantage of his opportunity. He failed to rush for more than 60 yards in a single game and only scored four rushing touchdowns. Similarly, he struggled in the receiving game, as he finished the season with 27 receptions, 152 receiving yards, and zero touchdowns. Smith suffered a knee injury in the fourth quarter of Week 15 against the Arizona Cardinals. Several days later, he had season-ending knee scope surgery to repair his meniscus injury.
2019 Bottom Line
The best-case scenario for Smith is the Falcons use him as frequently as they used Tevin Coleman when he was second on the depth chart to Devonta Freeman. Smith will need to prove his worth this year because the Falcons drafted Qadree Ollison in the fifth round of the NFL draft and added former Panther and Patriot, Kenjon Barner.