The Falcons released their first depth chart today, and let’s just say… it’s a bit interesting. Given several players recently returned to the practice field, and we are still a month away from Week 1, I wouldn’t put too much weight into where many of these guys are listed. However, I do think there is plenty we can take away from the team’s first official depth chart.
Rookies will have to earn it
Putting Kyle Pitts at TE3 tells us a lot about Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot. Ever since taking the job, they have said that internal competition would be key to success; nothing will be handed to anyone anymore. So, it’s no surprise that they made a statement by putting the rookies much lower on the depth chart than people might have expected. Second- and third-round selections, Richie Grant and Jalen Mayfield, were listed as third stringers, and the rest of the 2021 draft class also hovered around the bottom of the depth chart.
Despite this, I still expect rookies to play critical roles come Week 1 against the Eagles. Kyle Pitts will be a starter, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of other rookies carved out starting roles by the time games begin to count. If not, the Falcons will likely have no chance of making the playoffs this season.
The right tackle situation
The right tackle battle is interesting for several reasons. Out of nowhere, Willie Beavers is listed as a starter. However, I expect that to change pretty quickly now that Kaleb McGary is back at practice. Still, it does signal that Beavers is doing well enough to potentially earn a spot on the roster, especially with Matt Gono out for a while. Jalen Mayfield is also listed as the third-string right tackle. That’s something to watch out for as these depth charts are updated. As Alex talked about yesterday, with McGary back, Mayfield may slide inside to left guard and compete for the starting job with Josh Andrews and Drew Dalman.
Dante Fowler listed as a second-string OLB
Like McGary, Fowler was also listed as a second-string player after missing most of training camp. He returned over the weekend, so he has plenty of time to take back the starting job. Still, this is just another example of Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith making everyone earn their keep — even the highest-paid players won’t be given anything.
Chris Williamson listed as a second-string CB
It’s early, but we’ve heard a lot about Chris Williamson during training camp. Alex has already mentioned the former seventh-round pick as a guy who could steal a roster spot, and it looks like he’s well on his way to doing so, as he’s listed ahead of Kendall Sheffield on the depth chart.
Brandon Copeland listed as an OLB
Following the release of Barkevious Mingo, we were wondering how the Falcons might replace that production. Many began looking at external candidates, and there were still several options available, but it looks like Atlanta is going the internal route with Brandon Copeland. Copeland has mostly played off-ball linebacker in his career, but he has spent some time as an outside linebacker and had some success rushing the passer. In 2018, with the Jets, he had five sacks.
Fabian Moreau listed as the starter opposite AJ Terrell
One of the camp battles to keep an eye on was the cornerback position opposite of AJ Terrell. We expected Fabian Moreau to get the first crack at it, and that’s been the case so far. We’ll see if he can stake a permanent claim on the job throughout the preseason.
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