Initial Post-Draft Depth Chart for the Atlanta Falcons
The 2013 NFL draft is in the books and the Atlanta Falcons had quite a haul. They brought in a bunch of depth in the secondary with four picks in the defensive backs group. They also brought in a pair of defensive ends and a pair of offensive players who can compete for primary backup jobs.
The Falcons had one of the better drafts for depth in this year's draft. They didn't get but one instant starter, but when your team is 10 yards away from making it to the Super Bowl, you shouldn't need to take multiple starters in a single draft.
Let's take a look at the current depth chart for the Falcons after the draft:
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Starter: Matt Ryan
Reserves: Dominique Davis, Sean Renfree
Obviously, Matt Ryan has done nothing to lose his starting job, and neither Sean Renfree nor Dominique Davis is a legitimate threat to his starting ability. That being said, both of these players should be able to earn a roster spot in training camp and back up the Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback.
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Starter: Steven Jackson
Change of Pace: Jacquizz Rodgers
Reserves: Jason Snelling, Antone Smith and Josh Vaughan
Steven Jackson should have an automatic in as the starter after signing the three-year, $12 million free-agent contract this offseason to come to Atlanta. Jacquizz Rodgers provides an excellent change of pace to the powerful Jackson.
Jason Snelling allows the Falcons to have a third back that is different enough from the first two to create another wrinkle. Antone Smith and Josh Vaughan are a pair of players who will compete for the final spot on the roster and special teams jobs.
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Starter: Bradie Ewing
Reserves: Jason Snelling
While Bradie Ewing is the only true fullback on the roster anymore, the Falcons also have Jason Snelling able to play the position. Ewing is an excellent fit for a power scheme running the ball and could end up being the ideal lead blocker for a back like Steven Jackson.
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Featured: Roddy White
Possession: Julio Jones
Slot: Harry Douglas
Reserves: Marcus Jackson, Kevin Cone, Tim Toone, Drew Davis, James Rodgers
The Falcons' three starters have been the same since the start of the 2011 season. Roddy White, Julio Jones and Harry Douglas are all ideal fits for their roles. The Falcons don't have much behind them though, as every reserve is some sort of undrafted or street free agent that had to earn a roster spot last season.
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Starter: Tony Gonzalez
H-Back: Chase Coffman
Reserves: Levine Toilolo, Tommy Gallarda, Andrew Szczerba, Adam Nissley
This is one of the most unique scenarios in the league. While Levine Toilolo doesn't look like the guy who will be a long-term starter at tight end, Tony Gonzalez has a nice lump of clay to work with between both him and the already slightly molded Chase Coffman. The rest of the tight ends on the roster are blockers with little receiving talent.
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Left Tackle: Sam Baker
Left Guard: Justin Blalock
Center: Peter Konz
Right Guard: Garrett Reynolds
Right Tackle: Lamar Holmes
Game Day Third Tackle: Mike Johnson
Game Day Utility Reserve: Joe Hawley
Reserves: PhillipKeith Manley, Harland Gunn, Jacques McClendon
The Falcons like to have seven offensive line active on game days and nine on the roster. With the five starters being the most logical people for the positions based on who started where last season and the long-term development of Joe Hawley, the only real question is about the backups.
The Falcons do have a ton of talent in their reserve groups and could add even more through the undrafted free-agent ranks. The only way to go is up right now for the Falcons, but with how they sit at this moment, they have youth and untested talent along the line.
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Left Defensive End: Malliciah Goodman
Right Defensive End: Kroy Biermann
Rotational Pass Rushers: Osi Umenyiora, Jonathan Massaquoi
Reserves: Cliff Matthews, Stansly Maponga
Yes, Osi Umenyiora was the big money signing and will technically play enough snaps to be a "starter." However, the Falcons will run multiple different sets of defensive ends. The base grouping of Malliciah Goodman and Kroy Biermann should be effective at both rushing the passer and stuffing the run.
On the other hand, the third-down grouping should include Umenyiora and either Jonathan Massaquoi, Cliff Matthews or Stansly Maponga. The Falcons will enjoy being able to use the multiple different groupings to create different looks on defense.
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1-tech Nose Tackle: Corey Peters
3-tech Under Tackle: Jonathan Babineaux
Rotational pass rusher: Peria Jerry
Reserves: Travian Robertson, Micanor Regis
This unit is one of the least affected by this year's offseason. Both starters are the same in Corey Peters and Jonathan Babineaux. However, the Falcons lost their primary rotational pass-rusher in Vance Walker to the Raiders. This could be a blessing in disguise as Travian Robertson looked good late and could be a legitimate competitor for the No. 3 defensive tackle job.
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Weakside Linebacker: Sean Weatherspoon
Middle Linebacker: Akeem Dent
Strongside Linebacker: Stephen Nicholas
Reserves: Brian Banks, Robert James, Pat Schiller
The Falcons starters stay the same and so do their backups outside of the loss of ancient linebacker Mike Peterson for the rookie Brian Banks. While the Falcons roster looks pretty bleak right now in this grouping, there's a ton of talent out there that could help with the depth on the line.
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Left Cornerback: Asante Samuel
Right Cornerback: Desmond Trufant
Nickel Cornerback: Robert McClain
Reserves: Robert Alford, Dominique Franks, Terrance Johnson, Peyton Thompson
This is the unit with the most upheaval. The Falcons lost three of their top five cornerbacks from the 2012 season. No big deal though, as Robert McClain's continued ascension and the first- and second-round picks of cornerbacks in Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford could give Atlanta a trio of starting caliber cornerbacks long term.
Asante Samuel is a great long-term mentor for this young group. However, for this group to truly be great, Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford will have to reach their full potential.
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Free Safety: Thomas DeCoud
Strong Safety: William Moore
Reserves: Shann Schillinger, Charles Mitchell, Kemal Ishmael, Zeke Motta
With how the Falcons only kept five linebackers on the roster all of last season, it would not be surprising to see the Falcons opt for that again in favor of a safety or a cornerback. Even then, that means the maximum amount of safeties that will make the roster is five.
So the Pro Bowl players Thomas DeCoud and William Moore have locks on stating jobs. But the remaining four guys will be competing for two, maybe three, spots on the defense. As it sits right now, the competitive edge would go to Charles Mitchell and Shann Schillinger based on experience.
Kicker, Punter and Long Snapper
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Kicker: Matt Bryant
Punter: Matt Bosher
Kickoff Specialist: Matt Bosher
Long Snapper: Josh Harris
This unit looks the same as last season. This is only a good thing as the Matt Bosher, Matt Bryant and Josh Harris combination yielded some of the best results of any trio in the NFL in 2013.
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Starter: Robert Alford
Reserves: Jacquizz Rodgers, Dominique Franks
The draft's second round gave the Falcons arguably its biggest need on the third side of the ball—a returner for the special teams unit in Robert Alford. Jacquizz Rodgers and Dominique Franks both have experience at returner in the NFL, but none of them have the explosive potential that Alford has.
All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus's Premium Stats, ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All contract information is courtesy Spotrac. All recruiting rankings come from 247Sports.com.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.