Camp Battles ’10: Safety
The safety position may feature one of the few legitimate competitions for a starting position.
The battle may come between incumbent strong safety Erik Coleman and second-year player William Moore. It was obvious last season that when the Falcons took Moore in the second round of the draft, they envisioned him as a starter. But an injury early in camp derailed his chances of winning that job. And the Falcons plugged in Thomas DeCoud at free safety, and moved Coleman from his natural spot to the strong safety position. Coleman was serviceable as a starter, but his drop in production from 2008 to 2009 indicates that he is not a natural fit at his current position. So if Moore puts together a strong summer, then odds are he can win that position, and Coleman will be relegated to utility reserve.
But the Falcons won’t force Moore into the starting lineup after missing almost the entirety of his rookie year due to injury. They can afford to give him another year to develop before putting him into the lineup. The key for Moore’s chances of winning the job is if he can show that the mental awareness and discipline is there for him to man the starting position. Knowing his assignments in coverage are key for his success.
But after those three players, the competition is wide open. The Falcons may only need to keep four safeties because Coleman can play two positions. And that fourth spot will likely come down to Matt Giordano or Shann Schillinger. And who wins that battle will likely be largely dependent on who plays well on special teams this summer, since that is primarily what that player will do in the regular season. Giordano has more experience, but Schillinger is a rookie draft pick and thus has more long-term value. That probably gives Schillinger a slight edge in the competition.
Gabe Derricks and Rafael Bush are two undrafted free agents that will be in the mix and with good summers of producing on special teams and making some plays on defense could land practice squad roles.