Stock: SteadyHeyward should be in the top 10; but his "superstar" status was left to question after a major sophomore slump in 2011.
#19 - Brent Grimes
Stock: RisingBrent Grimes came out of nowhere to become a star in the Falcons secondary; an undrafted FA out of Shippensburg University, Grimes led the league in pass deflections, had 5 interceptions and earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl in 2011.
#18 - Tony Gonzalez
Stock: FallingThe 9x All-Pro future Hall-of-Fame tight end is in the later stages of his career, but still manages to be one of the best players at his position. Gonzalez is one of Ryan's primary and most reliable go-to guys during his time in Atlanta.
#17 - Julio Jones
Stock: RisingThe Falcons traded 5 draft picks to land Jones, creating one of the most dynamic WR tandems in the NFL. The former Crimson Tide star has plenty of upside and ability to become one of the top receivers in the league for years to come.
#16 - Michael Bourn
Stock: RisingThe Braves All-Star, Gold Glove centerfielder has led the league in steals 3 consecutive years; swiping 174 bases in the time period. His spectacular defense and ability as a table setter will make the Braves much more dangerous in 2012.
#15 - Tommy Hanson
Stock: SteadyBaseball America’s #1 prospect in 2009, Hanson will be a staple at the top of the rotation, likely over the course of the next decade for the Braves.
#14 - John Abraham
Stock: SteadyIn 2010 the Falcons 3× All-Pro DE recorded 2 sacks against the Panthers pushing him above 100 for his career.
#13 - Dan Uggla
Stock: SteadyAfter a rough start to the season; Uggla rebounded in the second half to record a 33-game hitting streak (longest in Braves history) and finish the season with 36 homers. Uggla also became the first second baseman in major league history to hit 30 home runs in four consecutive seasons.
#12 - Jair Jurrjens
Stock: RisingThe 25 year-old starter may not be in Atlanta for long (on the trade block), but it’s hard to argue his ability and confidence on the mound hasn’t met expectations. Jurrjens was arguably the best pitcher in the NL during the first half of 2011, posting a 1.87 ERA and a 12-3 record.
#11 - Chipper Jones
Stock: FallingChipper only has a couple years left, but Atlanta’s golden boy- Larry Wayne Jones Jr. continues to produce. In 2011, Jones hit career milestones of 450 home runs and 1000 extra-base hits, and was voted by the players an NL All-Star (his 7th selection).
#10 - Josh Smith
Stock: RisingIt’s hard to believe at age 26, Smith has already been a starter in the league for 7 years. “J-Smoove” was the NBA Slam-Dunk Champion as a rookie, the fastest players in NBA history to reach 1000 blocks (age 24) and is primarily the #1 guy making highlights at The Highlight Factory.
#9 - Freddie Freeman
Stock: RisingFreeman was a highly regarded going into the 2011 season, but the 22 year old rookie surpassed all expectations; leading the team in hits and batting average, and finishing second on the team in runs, doubles, RBI and OBP. Freeman also played in a remarkable 157 games, displayed a plus glove at first and finished 2nd in NL ROY voting.
#8 - Al Horford
Stock: RisingThe former Florida Gator is one of Atlanta’s few solid draft picks (3rd overall-2008), and is already considered by many to be the cornerstone of the Hawks franchise. In 4 years in the league, Horford’s achievements include NBA All-Rookie First Team (2008), 2x NBA All-Star (2010-2011) and All-NBA Third Team (2011).
#7 - Tim Hudson
Stock: SteadyThe ace of the Braves is as steady as they come; In 13 seasons (8 with Atlanta), Hudson has never had a losing record. The past 2 seasons following Tommy John surgery, Huddy has a record of 33-19 with a 3.02 ERA.
#6 - Joe Johnson
Stock: FallingSince being acquired from Phoenix, Johnson has been the building block in improving the Hawks franchise; helping Atlanta achieve a better record in 4 consecutive seasons from 2006-2010, going from 26-56 in 2006 to 53-29 in 2010. Regarded by most to be the “face of the franchise”, JJ has been a 5x Eastern Conference All-Star, scoring 20+ ppg in 5 of 6 seasons in Atlanta.
#5 - Craig Kimbrel
#4 - Matt Ryan
Stock: RisingRyan has been a 4 year starter for the Falcons; helping the franchise forget about the misery #7 left behind. Matty Ice was the NFL Offensive ROY & Sporting News ROY in 2008, an NFC Pro Bowl selection in 2010 and owns a 42-18 career record / 24-4 record at The Georgia Dome as a starter.
#3 - Michael Turner
Stock: SteadySince coming to Atlanta in 2008, Turner “The Burner” has made the front office look pretty smart. As a Falcon- Turner has been a 2x All Pro, the NFC Rushing Champion in 2010 and has made a trip to the Pro Bowl twice.
#2 - Roddy White
Stock: RisingIt took him a couple years to get going, but since then #84’s stock has skyrocketed. Since 2007, no other player in the league has racked up more yards than White (5,158); In 2010, he led the league in receptions and was voted to his 3rd consecutive Pro Bowl. Roddy has made his case as one of the league’s top receivers; he owns the Falcons single season record for receiving yards (1389) is on pace to break multiple Falcons career receiver records.
#1 - Brian McCann
Stock: SteadyMcCann first burst onto the scene as a rookie, hitting a homerun off Roger Clemens in his first playoff game, he hasn’t looked back since. Since coming into the league, McCann has become a superstar and arguably the best catcher in baseball. B-Mac has been to 6 consecutive All-Star Games, owns 5 Silver Slugger Awards and was named the 2010 All-Star Game MVP. One of the last remaining “Baby Braves”, McCann leads the team in multiple statistical categories on an annual basis.