Dave Choate at The Falcoholic had a nice write-up on a post-draft 53-man roster projection for the Atlanta Falcons early today. Well I’m throwing down the gauntlet and I’m going to give you my own
guess assessment at what direction the Falcons roster is headed!
I would say that the chances are pretty good that all seven of the Falcons draft picks will make the roster, and while the team has yet to officially announce all their undrafted free-agent signings, I’m going to include Texas Christian cornerback Kevin White as the de facto eighth draft pick. I put asterisks (*) by the rookies.
All that being said, let’s look at the players that are front-runners to earn shots:
Starter: Matt Ryan
Backup: T.J. Yates
Yates has a leg up on Sean Renfree for the backup quarterback spot given his experience in Gary Kubiak’s offense in Houston, which of course has close ties to Kyle Shanahan’s offense given that he was a coordinator for the team two years prior to Yates’ arrival.
Starter: Tevin Coleman*, Patrick DiMarco
Backups: Devonta Freeman, Antone Smith, Collin Mooney
For the time being, I’m going to project five running backs to make the roster. We’ll have to see which undrafted free agents the Falcons have brought into camp, but people may forget there was a time in the NFL where teams carried backup fullbacks on their roster!
Starters: Julio Jones, Roddy White
Backups: Justin Hardy*, Leonard Hankerson, Devin Hester, Eric Weems
Ultimately, I believe the Falcons opt to keep six wide receivers on the roster this year.
Starter: Jacob Tamme
Backups: Tony Moeaki, Levine Toilolo
These picks shouldn’t be surprises.
Starters: Jake Matthews, Mike Person, Joe Hawley, Jon Asamoah, Ryan Schraeder
Backups: James Stone, Harland Gunn, Lamar Holmes, Jake Rodgers*
Starters: Tyson Jackson, Paul Soliai, Jonathan Babineaux, Vic Beasley*
Backups: Malliciah Goodman, Ra’Shede Hageman, Grady Jarrett*, Adrian Clayborn, Stansly Maponga
Jackson keeps his job as a starter, but probably winds up playing less than 40 percent of the defensive snaps this year. Expect to see heavy doses of Goodman, Hageman, Clayborn and Jarrett in the rotation this year. I believe Maponga’s pass-rushing abilities, coupled with underrated special-teams value earns him a spot above Kroy Biermann and Cliff Matthews.
Starters: Brooks Reed, Paul Worrilow, Justin Durant
Backups: O’Brien Schofield, Prince Shembo, Nate Stupar, Allen Bradford
The trend among the four backup linebackers is that they all have the potential to be studs on special teams.
Starters: Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford
Backups: Jalen Collins*, Akeem King*, Kevin White*
I think the Falcons will go young with their depth at cornerback. Phillip Adams is the veteran of the group, but from a talent perspective doesn’t bring a whole lot more to the table.
Starters: Charles Godfrey, William Moore
Backups: Kemal Ishmael, Dezmen Southward
Godfrey should have little issue holding off either for a backup spot, but Ishmael and Southward will take their rightful place on special teams coverages.
Starters: Matt Bryant, Matt Bosher, Josh Harris
These might be the most shocking picks of the entire projected 53-man unit!
My expectation this summer is that there is going to be plenty of roster turnover, and several players that normally would stick might not if someone younger and hungrier outperforms them.
I’m also expecting that there will be considerable turnover at the end of camp as the team takes a page from the Seattle Seahawks by bringing in a larger-than-usual number of players that get from other teams. At this point, cornerback, safety, offensive line and running back are potential areas where the Falcons will be monitoring the waiver wire closely come August.
There are going to be a lot of players come August that will be on the roster bubble, particularly players that were once fairly high draft picks in recent years. I’m looking at you Levine Toilolo and Dezmen Southward.