Mohamed Sanu, Wide Receiver
Sanu is the second ex-Bengals receiver to be pegged for a breakout year. Freed from what was a stacked receiving corps in Cincinnati last year Sanu may finally start to see a good amount of targets in Atlanta.
When AJ Green missed three games in 2014 Sanu’s season total took a bump but those 98 targets, 56 receptions, 790 yards, and five touchdowns remain career highs for him thanks to the ultra-competitive environment in Cincinnati.
Now that he has signed with the Atlanta Falcons, Sanu doesn’t have to compete with a myriad of other bodies for the attention of his quarterback. Obviously, there is Julio Jones across from Sanu who will be seeing a lot of footballs but that is no different from Cincy where he had AJ Green opposite him. What is different that Atlanta lack the other secondary and tertiary targets that can compete with Sanu for the balls that don’t go to the superstar.
With Sanu signed before the draft Atlanta eschewed taking a receiver high, and while the five-year, $32.5 million free agent deal sounds like a lot for someone who is yet to post a 1,000 yard season it is very team friendly. The Falcons can effectively get out from the deal after two years for $14 million which isn’t too bad should Sanu fail to improve his production. However I think he is likely to see out this deal and do quite well.
While Sanu is best known for his wildcat antics and perfect passer rating (he is 5 for 5 with 177 yards and 2 touchdowns) he is a good receiver capable of providing a good foil for Julio Jones. He is a precise route runner with good hands and body control. While he lacks the top end speed to be an out and out deep threat Sanu can get physical at the point of attack and, as Cincinnati showed, can be used in multiple roles on the offense. He is also a good blocker, making him a strong replacement for the departing Roddy White.
There is a chance that the Falcons have overpaid for Sanu but it was a competitive free agent market for a very small amount of players and I don’t foresee any problems moving ahead. If Sanu can develop a good rapport with quarterback Matt Ryan then there is a good chance that Sanu finally posts his first 1,000 yard season in 2016.