Pitt’s Qadree Ollison could be ‘dangerous’ with Falcons’ offense, NFL analyst says | TribLIVE.com
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Tim Benz

It wasn’t the strongest NFL draft class for running backs. But Pitt’s Qadree Ollison may be one of the most impactful of the bunch.

That’s according to NFL.com’s Gil Brandt.

Here’s what he said about the Falcons’ fifth-round pick.

“In a perfect world for the Falcons, Devonta Freeman and Ito Smith would handle the bulk of the rushing load this season. But Freeman has struggled to stay healthy, and both he and Smith lack the ideal size for short-yardage situations, which is where the 6-1, 228-pound Ollison can find a niche.”

Brandt also praised Ollison’s punt-protection ability, which he thinks will have him ready to participate on passing downs. He feels Ollison is “capable of catching the ball, as well, which could make him dangerous in Dirk Koetter’s offense.”

Jockeying for position on the depth chart with the likes of James Conner in 2016 and Darrin Hall in 2017 kept Ollison’s stats down at Pitt.

Ollison had 212 carries as a freshman. Over his next two years combined, despite dressing for 22 games, he had only 123 carries. But then he totaled 194 attempts in his senior season.

That led to a career-high 1,213 yards, 6.3 yards per carry and 11 touchdowns.

Atlanta was 27th in rushing in the NFL last season, averaging just 98.3 yards per game. But that may have had something to do with needing to come back in games and failing to commit to the ground game. The Falcons’ 4.5 yards per carry was actually in the top half of the league. So the guts of an improved run game may be there for 2019.

I’m not quite sure Ollison will have the impact Brandt is guessing. But I do think he can be a serviceable NFL rookie.

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