Qadree Ollison isn’t entering an especially crowded running back situation in Atlanta.
In fact, physically, the former Pitt running back will stand out in the crowd at 6-foot-2, 225 pounds because the other backs are listed at 5-8 (Devonta Freeman and Marcus Green) and 5-9 (Ito Smith).
No question, the Falcons need help at running back after Freeman, a 1,000-yard rusher in 2015 and 2016, was limited by knee, foot and groin injuries to two games and 68 yards last season. They also lost Tevin Coleman in free agency to the San Francisco 49ers.
That’s not to suggest Ollison will supplant Freeman in his rookie season, but there’s room for him to make a quick impact.
Ollison’s competition will come from Smith, a fourth-round pick last year who ran for 315 yards and four touchdowns, and fellow rookie Green, a multi-talented back from Louisiana-Monroe. Green caught 50 passes for 855 yards last season, but he also has five return touchdowns on his resume – four kickoffs and a punt.
The Falcons say Green will be a running back at the outset of the offseason, but he’ll surely end up filling a much different role than what they’ll ask of Ollison, whose physicality attracted the Falcons as much as anything.
“He’s a big back. We’ve been looking for a big back to add to that group,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “We think that, again back to versatility, he’s a big guy, a strong guy. Actually has really nice feet and game-speed ability about him for a bigger back like that. He has pass-pro ability as well and can catch the ball as well, so there’s a versatility element to a bigger guy.”