There should be some of the fiercest competition on the roster in the secondary this summer. Erik Coleman seems locked in as the starting free safety. But at the other safety spot, William Moore and Thomas DeCoud are set to compete. Chris Houston is probably a longshot to lose his starting job this summer, but could be challenged somewhat if he doesn’t have a strong summer. The other corner spot will be up for grabs however.
Competing for that vacant corner spot will be Chevis Jackson, Von Hutchins, Brent Grimes, and Chris Owens. Jackson is currently ahead on the depth chart, but there have been reports that the team would rather have him working inside as the nickel corner this year. That opens up opportunity for the others. Hutchins has the experience, but missed all of last year with injury, and will need to bounce back with a really strong summer. Owens has the speed the team would like to see outside, but he’s a rookie and with veterans ahead of him, it might be best to bring him along a bit more slowly. Grimes handled the gig for the first half of last year before losing his job to Domonique Foxworth. He’ll need to re-instill confidence in the coaching staff. He’s tough and fast, but undersized and it showed too often last year. Unless he’s grown a few inches, he’ll be hard-pressed to win.
Without a strong summer, Grimes could find himself released by the team since he didn’t show great special teams ability last yera.
Also in the mix are David Irons and William Middleton. Both players are likely only going to play on special teams this year. The team likes Middleton’s athleticism, which means he may have greater upside on defense than Irons, who has only gotten a handful of snaps there in the past two seasons.
As for safety, William Moore is probably the safer bet since he’s a better fit for the scheme at strong safety and has much greater upside. But Moore will need to show he’s not a liability in coverage, something that he proved to be on occasion while at Missouri last year. DeCoud is not stellar in coverage either, but is a bit undersized than what the team is looking for at the position. But he’s got a year’s worth of experience over Moore and thus could potentailly have a shorter learning curve as a starter.
Jamaal Fudge has more experience, performing well in a season finale start last year. But he’s only likely looked up on as a fallback option in case either Moore or DeCoud don’t work out. Also in the mix at safety are Eric Brock and Antoine Harris who will need to show ability on special teams and in coverage on defense to stick, since at best they will only be used in the occasional dime package there. Also at corner are Tony Tiller and Glenn Sharpe, both of whom are unlikely to land a roster spot, but could wind up on the practice squad.
The Falcons will likely keep up to ten defensive backs on the roster. Right now, the safe bets for the starting spots appear to be Jackson and Moore, but Owens and DeCoud aren’t bad options as dark horses.