The Atlanta Falcons concluded their pre-season with a last-gasp victory over the Baltimore Ravens. It was a game for the young and fringe players to prove they belong. Dan Quinn will have to make some difficult decisions over the next few days as he gets his roster down to 53.
Atlanta Falcons General Manager Thomas Dimitroff gave a little insight on how important this game was in a radio interview with Gil Brandt and Alex Marvez for SiriusXM.
"“I think this is an important game for a lot of those roster spots, basically from 40 to 53. There is still a number of battles that are going on that will be determined in my mind with how people show in this game.”"
As in years past of doing these roster projections, it still feels like I’m trying to get up to 53 rather than going down to 53. The roster isn’t as robust as it needs to be depth wise and is lacking in a few areas. Another offseason like the one just had and maybe this time next year I’ll have a more difficult time in deciding which players to drop.
Aug 14, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) passes against the Tennessee Titans during the first quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Rex Grossman was recently signed but has history with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan so getting up to speed with the offense shouldn’t be troubling. Sean Renfree has outplayed T.J. Yates and wins the third spot.
I think this is pretty much a lock. Leonard Hankerson has been extremely impressive throughout camp while Devin Hester and Eric Weems are special teams extraordinaires.
Nov 30, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons tackle Jake Matthews (70) in action against the Arizona Cardinals in the fourth quarter at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons defeated the Cardinals 29-18. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Shanahan uses a lot of two-tight end sets so it makes sense for all 3 to make the team. Jacob Tamme is your textbook “move” TE, Tony Moeaki is a strong blocker and Levine Toilolo has taken several steps forward this offseason.
- Tackle: Jake Matthews, Ryan Schraeder, Tyler Polumbus, Jake Rodgers
- Guard: Mike Person, Chris Chester, Jon Asamoah
- Center: Joe Hawley, James Stone
Versatility is key in backups so players with swing-tackle or center-guard ability have been chosen. Jon Asamoah has been a perplexing storyline throughout preseason and training camp. He seems to have fallen out of favour with the coaches but he is still a stabilising presence. Again, the offensive line is an area I expect the Falcons to look closely at with the waiver wire.
- Defensive End: Vic Beasley, Tyson Jackson, O’Brien Schofield, Malliciah Goodman, Stansly Maponga
- Defensive Tackle: Ra’Shede Hageman, Paul Soliai, Adrian Clayborn, Jonathan Babineaux, Grady Jarrett
A group short on star power but I do think they can be an effective unit. The Falcons are fine here with depth.
Nov 30, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back Andre Ellington (38) is tackled by Atlanta Falcons inside linebacker Paul Worrilow (55) in the first quarter at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
This is another area where a waiver wire addition can improve the group. Brooks Reed will be sidelined after groin surgery and there isn’t a standout SAM that can play the position. It will probably be Kroy Biermann’s position but he doesn’t move as well in space as he did before the Achilles injury. Allen Bradford and Joplo Bartu are players who can be improved upon but provide good special teams value.
- Cornerback: Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, Phillip Adams, Jalen Collins, Kevin White
- Safety: William Moore, Ricardo Allen, Kemal Ishmael, Charles Godfrey
The final cornerback spot came between Kevin White and Dezmen Southward. I think White’s ability to play nickel cornerback wins him a shot at the 53-man roster although the team will have to swallow a bitter pill as Southward was their 3rd round selection last year. The team is dying for some safety depth as Charles Godfrey is nothing more than a fringe player but at least provides good special teams value and leadership.
Arguably the best special teams unit in the league doesn’t need any changes.
I expect the Falcons to be busy inspecting the waiver wire. They could do with another running back as the No. 3 or No. 4 who can provide some quality relief touches. Their offensive line, linebacker and safety depth should send the sirens blaring also but as we’ve seen every year, one team’s trash can be another team’s treasure so hopefully the Falcons can add some good talent and strengthen the team.
More from NFL Spin Zone
- Dallas Cowboys made the trade everyone else should have made
- Pittsburgh Steelers rookie sleeper everyone should be talking about
- Anthony Richardson putting jaw-dropping talent on display immediately
- Denver Broncos’ stud wide receiver might be out for a while
- Washington Commanders: Three takeaways from win over Ravens