Can Troy Andersen start as a rookie if Falcons part ways with Deion Jones?

Troy Andersen

Falcons fans are eagerly waiting for June 1 to roll around as Deion Jones‘ future is in serious doubt, especially after recent news of his injury, which will cause him to miss the rest of the offseason. According to Jeff Schultz of The Athletic, Jones’s departure is imminent and warranted because of his lack of leadership. Schultz mentioned the Falcons would be able to swallow the difficult pill of his horrid play, but his lack of leadership cannot be overlooked. I’m not sure if he can be traded at this point, but playing without him next season is certainly on the table.

The Falcons will save considerable cap space in a post-June 1 trade, but it might be challenging to find a suitor willing to take on the entirety of Jones’ contract. Still, all signs point to Debo leaving Atlanta. If it does happen, the Falcons will have to replace a 17-game starter from a year ago.

The Falcons selected Troy Andersen with the No. 58 pick in last month’s draft, and he’ll undoubtedly have a crack at the starting job if the team parts ways with Jones. Standing 6’3” and weighing 242 pounds, the Montana State product ran an unbelievable 4.41 40-yard dash at the combine. He’s an elite athlete who had an impact as a quarterback and running back as well as at linebacker in college. 

His range is apparent, given his athleticism; Andersen is incredibly reliable in coverage, which bodes well for him to get on the field in obvious passing downs. And with Foye Oluokun departing in free agency, the pick made sense. Now that Jones’s future is in doubt, the selection makes even more sense.

However, with all that being said, I don’t see Andersen being able to start from Day 1. Mykal Walker is more experienced in Dean Pees’ defense against NFL offenses. Nick Kwiatkoski is even more experienced than Walker and has had Pro Bowl-caliber performances before. Andersen’s run defense leaves me skeptical, but I’m not the only one who isn’t sure he can be a starter in Week 1.

“Standout & fastest LB at Combine has cover ability to play right away on sub-downs,” Executive Director Senior Bowl Jim Nagy said. “[I] expect him to be starter Year 2. Best football way ahead of him.”

Richie Grant, a fellow second-rounder, didn’t play much his rookie season, so don’t be surprised if the Falcons use Andersen sparingly. I think Kwiatkoski and Walker would be better used on early downs while supplementing with Andersen on passing downs.

Photo: Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire

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