Quarterbacks: The starter is no surprise. Matt Ryan is the cornerstone player of this organization, and he will be the starter no matter what. The real commotion was the backup position. T.J. Yates and Sean Renfree were battling it out, and the Falcons then signed veteran quarterback Rex Grossman before the third preseason game. Renfree is the sole backup, as the coaches seemed to be more impressed with him than Yates and Grossman.
Running Backs: Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, and Terron Ward were the running backs that made the team. Yes, Antone Smith is not listed. Due to a hamstring injury that looks to linger for awhile, the organization and Smith settled on an injury settlement clause. Freeman and Coleman will still be battling for the starting role, but look for both players to get the same amount of carries on September 14.
Fullbacks: Patrick DiMarco made the team and is the sole fullback. He beat out Colin Mooney, but Mooney was placed on IR due to a season-ending injury.
Wide Receivers: The receivers for the Falcons actually are very talented. Julio Jones and Roddy White headline the roster, with Leonard Hankerson, Devin Hester, Justin Hardy, Eric Weems, and Nick Williams behind them. Hankerson has played very well throughout preseason and might be able to overtake White’s spot if White cannot stay healthy. Hester and Weems are good receivers, but mainly are great special teams players. Hardy is a rookie who will look to progress throughout the season, and might find some playing time if he can up his play. The most surprising player to make the team is Nick Williams, a 5’10” receiver. Williams led the Falcons in the preseason, reeling in 17 catches for 157 yards.
Tight Ends: With the veteran Jacob Tamme listed as the starter, he brings in the catching skills that Matt Ryan can look to utilize. Levine Toilolo is the backup, and Toilolo defnintly has been playing better than he did last season. At 6’8”, Toilolo is a legitimate redzone threat, but he still has ways to go before being a reliable starter.
Offensive Line: Atlanta seems confident in their offensive tackles, as they only are carrying three of them. Jake Matthews is the left tackle, Ryan Schraeder is the right tackle, and Tyler Polumbus is listed as the backup. Matthews has a back injury that caused him to miss some time, and that is very concerning as back injuries to offensive linemen cause very bad problems. Polumbus is mediocre at best, as he was atrocious in the preseason.
At offensive guard, the Falcons upgraded a few days ago. They acquired the rights of Andy Levitre, who started 96 of the 96 games he played in. He will be starting at left guard for the Falcons, while Chris Chester will start at right guard. Mike Person serves as the only backup at the guard position.
Joe Hawley and James Stone are listed as the centers, and Hawley will likely be the starter. But his knee issues are concerning, as he is coming off an ACL tear from last season. If Hawley cannot hold up, Stone will eventually take his spot at center.
Defensive Line: The starting defensive ends will be Vic Beasley Jr. and Tyson Jackson. Beasley will be backed up by Kroy Biermann and Malliciah Goodman, and Jackson will be backed up by Adrian Clayborn. Quinn likes to switch around his defense, so the term “starter” should not matter. Beasley, Clayborn, and Jackson will look to be a tandem that can find their way into the opposing teams backfield.
The interior defensive line is headlined by Paul Soliai, Jonathan Babineaux, Ra’Shede Hageman, and Grady Jarrett. Soliai, Babineaux, and Hageman will likely be rotating and seeing the majority of the snaps. Jarrett is a rookie fifth-round selection, and he could end up finding time if he continues the great play he exhibited this preseason. Hageman is a guy to watch out for. He has shown signs of possibly being a dominant interior defensive lineman. Look for him to break out and make a name for himself in the NFL this season.
Linebackers: The listed starters for the linebacking core is Justin Durant, Paul Worrilow, and Brooks Reed. Reed was reported to be out for six weeks, so Kroy Biermann will likely fill in at Reed’s starting role. If Biermann cannot play up to Quinn’s expectations, look for O’Brien Scofield to take over the starting role until Reed is back. Worrilow is the starting middle linebacker to no surprise, and Allen Bradford and Nate Stupar will back him up. Bradford played great in the preseason and showed he is a vicious when he’s on the field.
Durant is one of the free agent defensive players the Falcons signed this past offseason. Joplo Bartu will be the backup for him, but Durant will play the majority of snaps.
Cornerbacks: One for sure starter is Desmond Trufant. He and Robert Alford will likely be starting at left and right corners, with the nickel back position still undecided. What will likely happen is Philip Adams, the free agent acquisition, will be starting there. Jalen Collins is the second-round selection that many had high expectations for, but his play was very poor throughout training camp and the preseason. He was beaten many times by receivers, and did not have the speed to make up for it. He and Dezmen Southward are the backups, and will likely contribute on special teams.
Safeties: The Falcons carry five safeties on their roster, which is more than most NFL teams. Ricardo Allen is listed as the starter at free safety, but he will be under a lot of pressure. Veteran Charles Godfrey and undrafted rookie Robenson Therezie are the backups. Therezie comes in as a surprise, but his play seemed to impress the coaches enough for them to put him on the roster.
At strong safety, William Moore looks to be a leader on the defense. Moore is a veteran player who has played spectacular at times, but him staying healthy is a concern. Kemal Ishmael is Moore’s backup, and he has some experience with Moore being hurt majority of last season. Ishmael is a very solid backup and could find his way into the starting lineup if the safeties struggle.
The safety position is still one of the many question marks on this Atlanta team. The Falcons might possibly look on the market to sure up the position prior to the start of the season.
Special Teams: There is no surprise here. Josh Harris is the long snapper. Matt Bosher is the punter, one of the best in the business. The kicker, Matt Bryant, is one of the most clutch kickers ever in the NFL.