Gabriel is emblematic of the difference between last year's disappointing, one-dimensional offense and this year's historically great attack.
Overly reliant upon Julio Jones to carry the offense in 2015, the Falcons placed an emphasis on speed and urgent playmaking ability this past offseason. When Gabriel was sent to the waiver wire during Cleveland's final cuts, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan jumped at the chance to reunite with an explosive run-after-catch threat who averaged 17.3 yards per catch as a Browns rookie in 2014.
Shanahan has spent the season devising plays for three role players with sub-4.40 speed, headlined by the 4.27 forty-yard dash Gabriel blazed at his college pro day.
"I'm the fastest guy on the offense," Gabriel insisted earlier this week.
Although Gabriel acknowledges that Kansas City's rookie phenom Tyreek Hill is a "burner," he's unwilling to take a backseat to anyone in the speed department.
"He's not faster than me," a grinning Gabriel told Around The NFL on Wednesday. "You can't say anybody's faster than you."
Although Gabriel lacks Hill's game-changing impact on special teams, he infuses Shanahan's offense with a similar potential to score from anywhere on the field.
"Big ups to Kyle to put me in position to make plays," Gabriel said, "and I have made a lot of splash plays."
Gabriel's effectiveness goes beyond electric speed. His lightning-quick cutting ability not only allows him to lose cornerbacks with devastating double moves, but also makes him one of the most elusive receivers with the ball in his hands.
"I feel like I have something that a lot of people don't have," Gabriel explained, "and that's the ability to change directions while running full speed."
With Shanahan and Matt Ryan exploiting his strengths and Jones drawing coverage away, Gabriel recorded a staggering 139.9 passer rating when targeted this season. That's the highest mark for any player with 50 or more targets, per NFL Research.