After the first few weeks of free agency, the Falcons have added eight new players — Mike Davis, Fabian Moreau, Brandon Copeland, Barkevious Mingo, Josh Andrews, and Jonathan Bullard. Terry Fontenot also traded for Lee Smith. The roster is starting to take shape, though one could expect an influx of players between now and week one, as there are still a plethora of quality free agents available, and April’s draft will produce at least nine bodies — barring any trades.
First, we will explore the offense, which has most of the starting positions solidified but desperately needs depth. From left to right, the offensive line is comprised of Jake Matthews, Matt Gono, Matt Hennessy, Chris Lindstrom, and Kaleb McGary. This has to the starting combination as the only competition, thus far, on the offensive line is newly acquired depth-piece Josh Andrews, who surely projects as a camp body. Terry Fontenot will have to bring in more options on the offensive line, so don’t be surprised if multiple mid-to-late round picks are used on the big uglies up front.
Matt Ryan is the only quarterback on the roster, but his backup could come from various places — a veteran free agent, fourth-overall pick rookie, or a late-round selection. The wide receiver position is as solidified as any on the roster with Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Russell Gage as the starting X, Z, and Y positions, respectively, with backups Christian Blake, Olamide Zaccheaus, and Chris Rowland also under contract.
The tight end group is solid but could use improvements as the current depth chart reads Hayden Hurst, Lee Smith, and Jaeden Graham — in that order. Hurst is a reliable TE1, but I would feel better about this group if Smith was TE3, which would mean another addition to this position.
Mike Davis might be the biggest offseason acquisition in terms of production because he’s primed to lead the running back room in Arthur Smith’s committee approach. Ito Smith and Qadree Ollison are set to back up Davis, and I truly believe Davis and [Ito] Smith have a chance to be an effective one-two punch in [Arthur] Smith’s offense. Keith Smith rounds out the rest of the offense as the only fullback on the roster. That is a lot of Smiths on one side of the ball.
Moving on to the defense, the front seven is further along than the secondary at this point. The interior defensive line is essentially set with Grady Jarrett, Marlon Davidson, Tyeler Davison, Deadrin Senat, John Cominsky, Jonathan Bullard, and Steven Means — the last two being the most recent additions. The EDGE position begins and ends with Dante Fowler, who has to have a better year than last if he wants to garner any kind of attention in free agency next offseason. Behind him will likely be Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, and opposite of him will probably be a combination of Barkevious Mingo and Brandon Copeland.
The second level is stacked with Deion Jones commanding the Will and Foyesade Oluokun commanding the Mike. Mykal Walker will push for playing time as he showed well in limited playing time his rookie year. What bodes well for Walker is his versatility to cover tight ends and running backs man-to-man with experience playing off-ball linebacker and EDGE. The unit is a bit top-heavy and could use some more depth, but Copeland can also play EDGE and off-ball.
Now, to the third level, which is the barest cabinet in the cupboard. The Erik Harris signing was a team-friendly one-year deal. His ceiling is low, but his floor is high. A great leader and effective communicator, the former Las Vegas Raider is the only safety with any remote experience. Jaylinn Hawkins shouldn’t be written off even if he’s only played 72 snaps at safety; he’s a steady contributor on special teams and could compete for the third safety spot.
The cornerbacks aren’t in as short supply as the safeties, but the quality of play is concerning. Fabian Moreau and A.J. Terrell will likely start as the boundary corners unless Fontenot drafts a cornerback in the first or second round. This leaves a combination of Isaiah Oliver, Kendall Sheffield, and Ty Hall to compete for the nickel role. There’s no reason to beat around the bush; the Falcons will be adding to their secondary as the offseason continues. Depending on how the draft shakes out, each of these positions could see an influx of rookies and low-cost free agents.
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