Right after the draft, I gave my initial
guess assessment of where I thought the Atlanta Falcons’ 53-man roster might end up this season. Since camp is nearly upon us, it’s time to re-assess.
This time I will include my picks for the 10-man practice squad. Given the new rules of the practice squad established last summer, I will be delineated between which players are eligible for the “regular” eight-man unit with a single asterisk (*) and those that are eligible for the final two spots with double asterisks (**). Rookies are indicated with italics.
Last summer my pre-camp roster projection wound up correctly picking 45 of the Falcons’ initial 53-man roster, roughly 85 percent accuracy. Of the eight that I picked to make it that didn’t, two (Sam Baker and Marquis Spruill) were because they were placed on the injured reserve.
I doubt I’ll be that accurate this summer since over seven years, I was able to get used to the proclivities of how Mike Smith & Co. built their roster. New Falcons head coach Dan Quinn is a completely different animal and thus will probably throw a bunch of curves to make this projection look way off. If I reach 75 percent accuracy (roughly 40 correct), I’ll be happy.
Starter: Matt Ryan
Backup: T.J. Yates
Cut: Sean Renfree**
No major surprise here, nor changes from what I thought in May. Yates’ relative comfort in the new system being installed by offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan should give him an edge over Renfree, when the situation was reversed last summer.
Starter: Devonta Freeman**, Patrick DiMarco
Backups: Tevin Coleman*, Antone Smith, Collin Mooney**
Cuts: Terron Ward*, Jerome Smith*
In May, I expected Coleman to usurp Freeman’s spot as the starter. But now I believe Freeman will retain his top spot on the roster, although in reality he and Coleman will likely split carries.
If I’m being honest, I’m hedging my bet by having both DiMarco and Mooney make the roster. In all likelihood, one will win the fullback job outright and the other will be cut. But isn’t it funny that keeping two fullbacks on the roster seems silly now, when just five years keeping just one would have been seen as ground-breaking? How quickly the league changes.
But it’s probably a good bet that whomever is cut in the fullback battle is replaced by a fourth tailback off the waiver wire.
Starters: Julio Jones, Roddy White
Backups: Justin Hardy*, Leonard Hankerson, Devin Hester, Eric Weems
Practice Squad: Bernard Reedy*
Cuts: Marquez Clark*, Freddie Martino*, Carlton Mitchell**, Nick Williams*
No changes to the roster from my May prediction, but another year on the practice squad for Bernard Reedy.
Starter: Jacob Tamme
Backups: Tony Moeaki, Levine Toilolo**
Cuts: Beau Gardner*, Mickey Shuler**
I don’t think this projection should be a surprise to anyone. Again, no changes from May.
Starters: Jake Matthews**, Chris Chester, Joe Hawley, Jon Asamoah, Ryan Schraeder**
Backups: Tyler Polumbus, Mike Person, James Stone**, Jake Rodgers*
Practice Squad: Jared Smith*, Valerian Ume-Ezeoke*
Cuts: Harland Gunn**, Lamar Holmes, Matt Huffer*, Peter Konz, Eric Lefeld*, DeMarcus Love**, Adam Replogle**
Post-draft additions of Chester and Polumbus caused Gunn and Holmes to get pushed to the wayside. Recent signee Love seems like a camp body. This is another position like running back that I think there is a very strong possibility that the Falcons seek help on the waiver wire, especially at offenisve tackle. If they do sign a backup tackle, expect Rodgers to wind up on the practice squad over Smith.
Starters: Tyson Jackson, Paul Soliai, Ra’Shede Hageman**, Kroy Biermann
Backups: Adrian Clayborn, Grady Jarrett*, Jonathan Babineaux, Vic Beasley*, Malliciah Goodman**, Cliff Matthews
Practice Squad: Stansly Maponga**, Joey Mbu*
Cuts: Ricky Havili-Heimuli*, Warren Herring*, Sam Meredith*
Since the draft, I decided that not only will Kroy Biermann make the team, but he’ll also be the starter. He, along with the others will technically be starters because they will be in the Falcons’ base package, with guys like Clayborn, Babineaux and Beasley carving out significant roles in the team’s nickel sub-package. The nickel guys will likely wind up playing more snaps this year, but technically won’t be starters because they won’t be on the field most weeks on the first play of the game.
Also dumped Maponga from this group in favor of Cliff Matthews, who I think will once again stick thanks to his high motor, run-defending skills and special-teams value. But Maponga remains eligible for the practice squad and thus could stick there.
Starters: Brooks Reed, Paul Worrilow**, Justin Durant
Backups: O’Brien Schofield, Nate Stupar**, Joplo Bartu**
Practice Squad: Derek Akunne*, Boris Anyama*
Cuts: Allen Bradford, Marquis Spruill*, Tyler Starr*
Projecting the depth at this position is like throwing darts at the board. Like Vaughn McClure, I came very close to swapping out Bartu for Akunne. Bartu’s lack of proven special-teams ability makes me somewhat skeptical he makes the team, but I think the fact that the others will be easier to clear waivers might save him.
Starters: Desmond Trufant**, Robert Alford**
Backups: Jalen Collins*, Phillip Adams, Jonathon Mincy*
Practice Squad: Akeem King*, Dezmen Southward**, Kevin White*
Cuts: Michael Lee*
I feel quasi-confident that one of the undrafted rookies will make the roster as the fifth corner. I went with Mincy due to the fact that he got offseason reps with the first team, after initially predicting White to be the guy. But it could easily be Lee if he has a good summer. King and Southward both wind up on the practice squad due to their special-teams value and also the potential that they could also be moved back to safety if the team is in a pinch.
Starters: Ricardo Allen*, William Moore
Backups: Charles Godfrey, Kemal Ishmael**
Cuts: Sean Baker**, Terell Floyd*, Damian Parms*, Robenson Therezie*
Back in May I didn’t have Allen making the team, thinking then that he’d be too much of a project and land on the practice squad. But my how things have changed since then, as he now is projected to be the starter at free safety.
Starters: Matt Bryant, Matt Bosher, Josh Harris
These picks are way out of a left field.