It’s time for me to be that much reviled “armchair” general manager and predict which 53 players will make it with the Atlanta Falcons this summer.
Last year, in my preliminary prediction before camp, I wound up nailing 44 out of the 53 players that eventually made the Falcons. I think that’s pretty good. Of the nine that didn’t make the cut, two were put on injured reserve (Sean Renfree and Mike Johnson) and one was briefly signed to the practice squad (Phillipkeith Manley). Of the eight players I predicted to make the practice squad, only two did (James Rodgers and Terren Jones).
I also made note of which players I believe are eligible for the practice squad with an asterisk (*).
Staying: Matt Ryan, T.J. Yates
Going: Sean Renfree*, Jeff Mathews*
Put simply, the Falcons traded for Yates for a reason.
Staying: Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers, Devonta Freeman*, Antone Smith
Going: Josh Vaughan, Jerome Smith*, Patrick DiMarco, Roosevelt Nix*, Maurice Hagens*
I’ll explain the absence of a true fullback along wit the tight ends, but otherwise the four that stick shouldn’t be a surprise.
Staying: Julio Jones, Roddy White, Harry Douglas, Devin Hester, Courtney Roby, Bernard Reedy*
Going: Drew Davis, Darius Johnson, Geraldo Boldewijn*, Julian Jones*, Freddie Martino*, Tramaine Thompson*, Jeremy Ebert
I think Davis will have a hard time making the team if his foot injury forces him to miss half of camp, giving Roby the chance to take over as gunner on punts. The buzz on Reedy is too electric to ignore. I think the Falcons will try and develop him into a versatile weapon, a poor man’s Percy Harvin.
Staying: Levine Toilolo, Bear Pascoe, Mickey Shuler, Jacob Pedersen*
Going: Brian Wozniak*
I’m think the Falcons might scrap the fullback in favor of use more two tight end sets. Pascoe and Pedersen will fill the role of a fullback working as H-backs. Shuler or a tight end to be signed later could be the backup behind Toilolo, who will play inline as a blocking and receiving tight end.
Staying: Sam Baker, Justin Blalock, Joe Hawley, Jon Asamoah, Jake Matthews, Peter Konz, Gabe Carimi, Ryan Schraeder
Going: Lamar Holmes, Mike Johnson, Harland Gunn*, Terren Jones*, Adam Replogle*, James Stone*
Every summer there are a couple of guys that are surprise cuts, and I think Holmes and Johnson might quality this year. Having a new pair of coaches overseeing the line won’t do either Holmes or Johnson any favors. Out with the old, in with the new.
Staying: Tyson Jackson, Paul Soliai, Jonathan Babineaux, Jonathan Massaquoi, Osi Umenyiora, Malliciah Goodman, Ra’Shede Hageman*, Corey Peters, Stansly Maponga
Going: Cliff Matthews, Peria Jerry, Travian Robertson, Nosa Eguae*, Donte Rumph*
I’m not sure there are any surprsies besides possibly Maponga making it. It seems like I’ve been predicting the team to cut Jerry forever and they never do. But if Peters is healthy Week 1, then Jerry becomes expendable.
Staying: Kroy Biermann, Paul Worrilow, Joplo Bartu, Prince Shembo*, Tim Dobbins, Tyler Starr*, Yawin Smallwood*, Marquis Spruill*
Going: Pat Angerer, Jacques Smith*, Walker May*, Brenden Daley*
I think the Falcons will keep all four rookie draft picks at lineabcker. Dobbins and Angerer might be competing for one spot, and it might as well be decided by a coin flip.
Staying: Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, William Moore, Dwight Lowery, Robert McClain, Javier Arenas, Ricardo Allen, Kemal Ishmael*, Dezmen Southward*
Going: Josh Wilson, Jordan Mabin*, Devonta Glover-Wright*, Zeke Motta, Sean Baker, Kimario McFadden*
The age difference between Arenas and Wilson will play a major part in deciding their fates. It could work for or against either of them. Arenas has the youth and could contribute in the future. But the Falcons coaches may be more focused on winning now and thus prefer the security of a veteran in Wilson. In Motta’s case, I’m thinking he winds up on a reserve list in some manner.
Staying: Matt Bryant, Matt Bosher, Josh Harris
Going: Sergio Castillo*
Once upon a time, the Falcons kept kicker Jake Arians on the practice squad for the entire 2000 season as heir apparent to Morten Andersen. Makes me wonder if the Falcons could pull a similar stunt if Castillo plays well this summer. A
QB Jeff Mathews, FB Roosevelt Nix, WR Julian Jones, OT Terren Jones, G Adam Replogle, NT Donte Rumph, LB Jacques Smith, S Kimario McFadden
Just a shot in the dark.