The Falcons have completely overhauled the roster this offseason, providing more competition across the entire depth chart. From starters to fringe roster guys, there is contention for each of the final 53 sports. So, it’s not surprising that a couple of Falcons were included in Eric Edholm of NFL.com’s list of veterans in jeopardy of losing their starting jobs — Cordarrelle Patterson and Adetokunbo Ogundeji.
It has to have been a strange offseason for Patterson, who first watched the Falcons take a running back with the eighth overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft (Bijan Robinson) and then in May saw the NFL’s kickoff rules altered dramatically. Both moves could affect Patterson’s livelihood and standing in Atlanta.
On the one hand, Patterson is a locker-room and fan favorite, and he provides depth at three spots — running back, receiver and returner. But with Robinson opening eyes early in camp (and taking some kickoff returns in practice), plus Tyler Allgeier coming off a strong rookie season, there might not be a huge role for Patterson on offense.
It’s possible he could be used more at receiver, but one way or another, his volume appears to be dwindling, especially after a midseason knee injury in 2022 spawned a less impactful version of Patterson.
The Falcons already had a loaded running back room before the NFL Draft. Tyler Allgeier made some noise in the Rookie of the Year race on his way to breaking the franchise record for rushing yards by a rookie, and Cordarrelle Patterson put up career-highs rushing yards and touchdowns. Then, they drafted Bijan Robinson with the 8th overall pick.
It was a head-scratching decision, but context is important. Robinson is better described as an offensive weapon that will be utilized as a receiver as much as a traditional running back. The same can be said for Patterson as well. In 2021, he was used as a pass catcher a lot more than last season. Expect him to revert back to that 2021 role. Moreover, for an offense that runs the ball as much as Arthur Smith’s, there is plenty of opportunities to go around.
Moreover, Patterson lost his starting spot even before the season ended last year with Allgeier breaking out. He’ll still have a prominent role in the Falcons’ offense, but the same cannot be said for Ogundeji.
Ogundeji has been a starter for the Falcons since Week 6 of his 2021 rookie season, missing only two games to injury since then. Perhaps the dearth of pass-rush talent was one reason why Ogundeji started, but there’s an excellent chance one of Atlanta’s offseason pickups pushes him out of a role.
The Falcons brought in Bud Dupree, Calais Campbell and Zach Harrison this offseason, adding to an edge group that also includes Lorenzo Carter, Arnold Ebiketie and DeAngelo Malone. Ebiketie is a player on the rise, and I believe Harrison has the makeup to be a more impactful player in the NFL than he was in college. It’s hard to see a major role for Ogundeji on Atlanta’s refurbished front.
Ogudeji’s starting spot is as good as gone just based on the additions this offseason. However, his spot on the roster is also in question. The former fifth-round pick has started 27 games over the last two seasons, but the Falcons have completely overhauled the defensive front, adding a number of players to Ogundeji’s position group — Bud Dupree, Calais Campbell, and Zach Harrison to go along with Lorenzo Carter, Arnold Ebiketie, and DeAngelo Malone.
His production also doesn’t jump out. He started 11 games last season and only recorded 33 tackles, five for a loss, one sack and two quarterback hits. Expect him to take a back seat to the aforementioned players.
Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire