Atlanta Falcons 53-man roster projection

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With the second week of training camp wrapping up this weekend, the Falcons are just days away from their first preseason game against the Titans. There will be plenty of headlines about Arthur Smith facing his former team and Julio Jones‘s return to Atlanta. Still, we are focused on the 90 men in a Falcons uniform competing for only 53 spots. This is the first of three 53-man roster projections for the team; the other two will happen after each preseason game before roster cuts, which are listed below.

August 17 — four days after the Falcons’ first preseason game

NFL teams are required to cut down to 85 players.

August 24 — three days after the second preseason game

NFL teams are required to cut down to 80 players.

August 31 — two days after the third preseason game

NFL teams are required to cut down to 53 players

Offense — 25

Quarterback — 2

Matt RyanA.J. McCarron

This isn’t much of a position battle; Matt Ryan is the solidified starter. Still, A.J. McCarron will have to beat out Feliepe Franks for the backup quarterback job. Yes, he’s intriguing given his physical abilities, but Franks is a long shot at making the final 53-man roster. McCarron is a solid backup who can spot a game or two without giving up too much.

Running Back — 4

Mike DavisCordarrelle PattersonJavian HawkinsQadree Ollison

Arthur Smith has said earlier in the offseason that the offense will use a running back by committee approach, so fans should fully expect a four-man room this season. Mike Davis seems to be in line to see a majority of the carries with Cordarrelle Patterson used as a gadget/ change-of-pace back. Qadree Ollison has a similar running style as Davis, so I expect him to be kept as his backup. Javian Hawkins will be one of the only undrafted free agents that make the 53-man roster because of his big-play ability. Caleb Huntley is a name to look out for; he’s extremely capable of taking Ollison’s spot on the depth chart.

Fullback — 1

Keith Smith

MAKE FULLBACKS GREAT AGAIN. Arthur Smith still uses a traditional fullback, so I fully expect him to demand Fontenot keep one on the roster. Keith Smith seems to be that guy thus far in camp, but Fontenot may choose to keep an extra tight end to replace a less-versatile fullback.

Wide Receiver — 5

Calvin RidleyRussell GageOlamide ZaccheausFrank Darby, Tajae Sharpe

There are going to be some hurt feelings in this group. I expect the Falcons to keep five receivers because Cordarrelle Patterson is versatile enough to be used as a receiver and running back. Olamide Zaccheaus has impressed throughout training camp; so much so, I believe he will be WR3. Darby and Sharpe round out this group, which leaves out Chrisitan Blake and Chris Rowland.

Tight End — 4

Kyle PittsHayden HurstLee Smith, Parker Hesse

With Jaeden Graham‘s season-ending injury, this group becomes much more interesting. Many believed Graham had the TE4 spot locked up, but I mentioned that Arthur Smith could want a blocking tight end to backup Lee Smith — enter Hesse. He’s a former college defensive end but has transitioned to tight end nicely. He’s already had an impressive grab over Jaylinn Hawkins, but there are no certainties with this one. It’ll be worth watching all preseason long.

Offensive Line — 9

Jake MatthewsJalen MayfieldMatt HennessyDrew DalmanChris LindstromKaleb McGary, Josh Andrews, Jason Spriggs, Bryce Hargrove; PUP Matt Gono

This group could be surprisingly good with the news that Dalman is impressing at left guard, so at worst, he can be a depth piece for two positions. McGary has yet to be activated off the PUP list, which is concerning. Still, with the outlook on Matt Gono unknown, the Falcons will have to keep a swing tackle until he is ready to come back. Enter Jason Spriggs, who should only be a swing tackle if Gono can’t return. This group could be the reason the offense shocks the league or the reason the offense struggles.

Defense — 25

EDGE — 4

Dante Fowler Jr., Steven MeansJacob Tuioti-MarinerAdetokunbo Ogundeji 

This group is going to be a three-man rotation opposite Fowler. Means, JTM, and Ogundeji have been getting first-team reps while Fowler was on the COVID-19 list. Those three need to put up somewhere around 10 sacks combined, which might be a bit of stretch. This group doesn’t spark much confidence in me, but I do appreciate all three of their abilities to play inside and outside the defensive front.

Interior Defensive Line — 6

Grady JarrettMarlon DavidsonTyeler Davison, Ta’Quon Graham, Jonathan Bullard, John Cominsky

It will be interesting to watch who separates themselves from the pack. Davidson will likely backup Grady Jarrett or start next to him in the five-technique. Cominsky and Bullard are likely competing for the five-technique, but the former can play on the edge, whereas Bullard doesn’t have that versatility. Graham will be an intriguing rookie to watch as well.

Linebacker — 4

Deion Jones, Foye Oluokun, Mykal WalkerBrandon Copeland

This group is pretty set in stone. Copeland and Walker have the ability to play off-ball linebacker and on the edge, so I fully believe the team may keep five linebackers for depth. Erroll Thompson has a good shot of making the team in that case.

Cornerback — 6

A.J. TerrellIsaiah OliverFabian MoreauKendall SheffieldDarren HallAvery Williams

Like the linebackers, this group is pretty set. Sheffield is the only one I believe to be in danger of not making the final 53-man roster. Chris Williamson has been garnering compliments from Arthur Smith, while in the little camp I’ve seen, Sheffield has struggled. Still, I have him making the roster for now.

Safety — 5

Richie GrantErik HarrisDuron HarmonJaylinn Hawkins, TJ Green

I believe TJ Green will round out this group given his value on special teams and familiarity with the coaching staff. The veterans will likely top the depth chart, but I think Richie Grant will play himself into a starting role before his rookie season is over.

Special Teams — 3

Younghoe KooJosh HarrisCameron Nizialek

The Falcons placed Sterling Hofrichter on the reserve list but haven’t ruled him out for the season. They chose to add Nizialek, who spent the first three weeks of the 2020 season on Atlanta’s practice squad after punting for the Atlanta Legends of the AAF in 2019. He’s a former Georgia Bulldog, but he’s not an NFL punter from what I’ve read. Dom Maggio is also dealing with an injury. Most likely, Terry Fontenot will try to scoop a punter that gets cut from another team. The Steelers have an interesting battle at the position that Fontenot is likely to keep an eye on.


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