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Crimson Query with The Falcoholic

Dave Choate, site manager of SB Nation Atlanta Falcons blog The Falcoholic, answered some questions about Tevin Coleman and the Atlanta Falcons for us. In the Q&A, Dave discusses Tevin's role on the team, how often we should expect him in the backfield next season, and how he'll fit in as part of the Falcons' zone blocking scheme.

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1. Congrats! Your team has drafted Tevin Coleman, running back from Indiana University! What is the overall consensus of Falcons fans about this pick, after a few days of reflection?

Dave: The fanbase is a little divided, but I think where you stand depends on A) who you're listening to and B) what you come to think watching his college film. I'd say overall most people are very happy with the speed and playmaking ability he brings to the table, and just need to see him operate in Kyle Shanahan's zone blocking scheme to be fully convinced.

2. With Stephen Jackson and Jacquizz Rodgers gone from last year's team, will Coleman have a chance to start right away this season? Or will he likely split carries with Devonta Freeman?

Dave: I don't think Coleman's going to be a true feature back, but he'll lead the backfield in carries. Devonta Freeman is a pretty good pass catcher out of the backfield already and offers a little bit of a different skill set than Coleman, so I fully expect him to get 10-plus touches per game. As long as Coleman's ready to pass protect, though, he'll be in there immediately.

3. After two straight disappointing seasons, the Falcons fired Mike Smith and brought in Dan Quinn from Seattle as head coach. They also brought in Scott Pioli to be a right-hand man to longtime GM Thomas Dimitroff. Ultimately, which of the three men was responsible for Atlanta's draft this year, or was it more of a team effort?

Dave: It was a team effort. Dimitroff has become a bit of a punching bag, but he's still heavily involved in the draft, and you can see his fingerprints all over the place because these guys had great three cone times and Dimitroff loves great three cone times. Pioli clearly did the bulk of the scouting work and deserves his due, but guys like Vic Beasley and Jalen Collins are ideal fits for what Dan Quinn wants to do on defense, so you know he was involved. All in all, looks like all three were heavily involved.

4. The Falcons have always struck me as a pass-first offense, with Matt Ryan throwing it through the air to Roddy White and Julio Jones. How important is a solid running game to the Falcons' offensive system, and how does new OC Kyle Shanahan plan to balance the offense?

Dave: It's incredibly important. In the heyday of Michael Turner, teams had to respect and even fear Turner's ability to bang into the line and wear down a defense, and that led to opportunities down the field for Matt Ryan. The last two years, he's had to stick in behind an injury-riddled line and attempt to carry the offense by himself, and it's a testament to his skill that this was an above average unit. Everything changes with a quality ground game, though.

5. Shanahan seems to be intent on bringing a zone blocking scheme to his offense in ATL. How important will being able to make blocks downfield be for Coleman to succeed with the Falcons in the future?

Dave: It'll be important, but not critical. The Falcons have a set of receivers who are very willing and capable blockers, which will help Coleman a lot, but he'll obviously be called upon to open things up at times in two back sets or in the passing game. If he's as refined as he seems, I'm sure he'll be able to make an impact in year one as a blocker, too.

6. Do you think the Falcons will be able to win the NFC South next season? Or is the team in more of a rebuilding mode?

Dave: It's a great question. The NFC South is in fairly rough shape, with the Buccaneers, Saints and Falcons all reloading to some extent, and the Panthers in desperate need along the offensive line and in the secondary. I don't expect an instant turnaround for Atlanta, but there's no question they can sneak into the playoffs if their draft class and free agent additions pan out the way we're all hoping they do.

7. Finally, prediction for Tevin next season? Will he be a week 1 starter, or will he have more of a learning curve in the pros?

Dave: He's the starter right off the bat, even if it's not in name. He'll get more carries than Devonta Freeman and Antone Smith even if he cedes some third down work to them, and the Falcons will plan to make use of his playmaking ability as they attempt to open the offense up under Kyle Shanahan. Barring injury, I think he's a mortal lock to lead the way in rushing for 2015.

Thanks, Dave! The Falcons will kick off their season next fall on Monday Night Football against the Philadelphia Eagles.