Atlanta Falcons Training Camp Preview 2014: FullbackWhen the Atlanta Falcons released former draft pick Bradie Ewing this offseason, it signaled that the team’s investment in the fullback position was diminishing.
That could be reflected in the fullback competition this summer, as the team has a trio of players competing for what likely will be only one roster spot.
Patrick DiMarco is the incumbent, filling in for an injured Ewing a year ago and performing well. DiMarco is an effective lead blocker that can also contribute on special teams, meaning that his fate is not exclusively tied to the fullback position.
That’s important, since it’s plausible that the team could opt to do away with the position entirely this year. Reports indicate the Falcons will play more three-wide receiver sets which will likely be at the expense fo the fullback.
They could adopt more two-tight end looks that have players like Bear Pascoe or Jacob Pedersen lining up at H-back instead of the traditional fullback. Pascoe’s played fullback in the past and is good enough that he could be perfectly functional in a pinch.
But because DiMarco also can contribute on special teams, it gives him added value when it comes to earning a roster spot. It may very well prove that during the regular season, whoever plays fullback will see more reps on special teams than he does on offense.
DiMarco will face competition from a pair of undrafted rookies in Roosevelt Nix and Maurice Hagens.
Nix is an interesting case because he played defensive tackle at Kent State, where he was very productive at that position. But his lack of size limited his NFL potential there, and the team hopes to take advantage of his physicality on offense.
Hagens is a big body at the position and could also make waves. It’ll be important for both undrafted rookies to show they can also cut it on special teams.
Ostensibly this position is a wide open competition, with any of the three having decent odds to stick. This is also a position where the Falcons could just as easily seek other options elsewhere when cuts occur later this summer.
DiMarco is the safest bet to make the team, but it’s the most wide open position on the team.