Perd Hapley: “The Falcons have more players now, which means their roster is bigger. That can only mean there are more Falcons with the team.”
We’ll know the full tally of undrafted guys here soon, and we know this team will continue to tweak its roster before September’s kickoff rolls around. However, we’ve got a good group of guys to study right now, so here’s how the Falcons roster looks post-draft.
Matt Ryan, A.J. McCarron, Feleipe Franks
Ryan, the former MVP, is flanked by McCarron, the former Alabama QB and career backup. He’s your QB2 going into training camp. Franks is the curious project, a guy folks thought would get drafted that the Falcons nabbed post-round 7. Who knows what his ceiling is. His 2018 Florida season (2,457 yards, 24 touchdowns) raises eyebrows, but he’s considered a player with the tools necessary to be great but not the consistency or results to this point. We’ll see if he makes any noise in Atlanta.
Running back/fullback (7)
Mike Davis, Cordarrelle Patterson, Qadree Ollison, Tony Brooks-James, Keith Smith (FB), Javian Hawkins, Caleb Huntley
The Falcons only return Ollison, Smith and Brooks-James from the previous regime. Davis is your starter right now and should get a bulk of the carries, while Hawkins comes with a 1,525 yard-nine touchdown 2019 campaign and a shortened 2020 season with 822 yards and seven touchdowns. He might be a steal at this point in the process. A veteran might figure in here, too — would the team bring back Todd Gurley as a third down back/red zone specialist? Some veteran should figure in here eventually unless Hawkins shows out.
Wide receiver (10)
Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage, Olamide Zaccheaus, Frank Darby, Chris Rowland, Christian Blake, Greg Dortch, Antonio Nunn, Austin Trammell
As long as the team doesn’t break our spirits and trade Jones unceremoniously this summer, the team will have some excellent options here with intriguing depth. Jones and Ridley are still a terrifying twosome, while Gage is an accomplished slot weapon now. Zaccheaus has provided more than enough reason to stick around, while newcomer Darby might be able to stretch the field with his speed. Watch for Rowland — he might carve out a special teams role on punt returns and endear himself to the new staff with his flexibility.
Tight end (6)
Kyle Pitts, Hayden Hurst, Lee Smith, Jaeden Graham, Ryan Becker, John Raine
Pitts is the superstar-in-waiting and will undoubtedly start this fall unless something bizarre happens. Hurst might be a trade commodity, but part of you wonders if Arthur Smith will just be happy to have two starting-quality tight ends on his roster. Smith is your blocker, and we’re intrigued to see what this staff can do with Graham.
Offensive line (15)
T Jake Matthews, G Chris Lindstrom, T Kaleb McGary, C Matt Hennessy, T Matt Gono, T/G Jalen Mayfield, C Drew Dalman, C Josh Andrews, G Willie Beavers, T Willie Wright, G Ryan Neuzel, T Jack Batho IV, OL Bryce Hargrove, OL Joe Sculthorpe, T Kion Smith
We know about three of the spots on the offensive line, but left guard and center remain questions. After the draft, you feel good about the guys competing. Gono and Mayfield look to be the frontrunners for left guard, while Hennessy and Dalman should duke it out for center. Andrews could spoil either spot, though, after starting some for the Jets last year.
Defensive line (16)
DT Grady Jarrett, DE Dante Fowler, DE John Cominsky, DE Steven Means, DE Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, DE Marlon Davidson, DT Tyeler Davison, DT Ta’Quon Graham, DE Adetokumbo Ogundeji, DT Jonathan Bullard, DT Deadrin Senat, DT Chris Slayton, DE Eli Howard, DE Alani Pututau, DT Zac Dawe, DE/LB Kobe Jones
Outside of Jarrett, an elite player, the defensive line is filled with solid contributors, folks who need to rebound and unknown commodities. You’re going to have plenty of competition here, with some surprising cuts possible. Fowler’s resurgence would help a lot, as would Davidson’s emergence (both are very possible). Cominsky should be ready to play into his potential now in Year 3, too. Can this staff get anything out of Senat?
Deion Jones, Foye Oluokun, Mykal Walker, Brandon Copeland, Barkevious Mingo, Erroll Thompson
The team has added a few guys here, but the lack of overwhelming investment must mean Dean Pees and his staff feel good about Jones, Oluokun and Walker, and rightly so. All three have done more than enough to have entrenched roles in this new regime. Copeland and Mingo add veteran depth.
Richie Grant, Duron Harmon, Erik Harris, Jaylinn Hawkins, T.J. Green, Marcus Murphy, Dwayne Johnson, Jr. (no relation)
The new regime has overhauled the safety position from the ground up, practically, with Hawkins the only draft pick remaining from the previous era. Grant, Harmon and Harris should all factor into the game plan, and honestly, don’t discount Hawkins. The previous folks really thought he could develop into something when they drafted him, and he’s only a year into his career.
A.J. Terrell, Isaiah Oliver, Kendall Sheffield, Fabian Moreau, Darren Hall, Avery Williams, Tyler Hall, Delrick Abrams, Chris Williamson
The team pumped some draft resources into the secondary Saturday with Hall and Williamson, who should both make the team and supplant depth early. Terrell is your top corner, but some competition between Oliver, Sheffield, Moreau, Hall and the new guys should help suss out the rest of the depth chart. A veteran addition would make sense, like re-signing Darqueze Dennard, but the team also has to like its youth and numbers here.
Special teams (5)
K Younghoe Koo, P Sterling Hofrichter, LS Josh Harris, K Elliott Fry, P Dom Maggio
Koo, Hofrichter and Harris should fill out nicely for the three ST roster spots, though you wonder what the team sees in Maggio, who it signed early in the offseason.
What do you think of the roster as it stands today?