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Early Projections for the Atlanta Falcons' Final 53-Man Roster

Al BruceContributor IDecember 24, 2016

Early Projections for the Atlanta Falcons' Final 53-Man Roster

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    We're still about two months away from the start of training camp in July, but as we all know, there's no real "offseason" in the NFL.

    After participating in free agency, the draft and bringing in a group of undrafted free agents, the Atlanta Falcons' training camp roster is practically set barring any late veteran free-agent signings.

    Given that the Falcons don't have too many roster spots up for grabs coming off of a 13-3 season, now is a good time to make an early projection as to which players will ultimately make Atlanta's 53-man roster in the fall.

    I gave preference to veteran players for most of the fringe roster spots in this projection since none of the rookies have practiced in pads yet, but I did include a couple of undrafted free agents in the 53-man group at two positions where the Falcons appear to have room for younger players to compete.

    We'll begin our projection at the quarterback position.

Quarterbacks

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    Final roster spots: Three (3)

    Matt Ryan, Dominique Davis and Sean Renfree

     

    Analysis

    No big surprise at the top with Matt Ryan and Dominique Davis.  Davis should be able to hold of Sean Renfree if he builds on the strong preseason that he had in 2012. 

    Renfree has a nice pedigree from his time under David Cutcliffe at Duke, and the Falcons will probably have to put him on the 53-man roster as opposed to cutting him and tucking him away on the practice squad if they want to keep another team from snatching him up.

Running Backs

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    Final roster spots:  Five (5)

    Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jason Snelling, Bradie Ewing (fullback) and Antone Smith

     

    Analysis

    Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling are virtual locks, and the starting fullback job will probably be Bradie Ewing's to lose if he's fully recovered from the knee injury he suffered last preseason.

    Antone Smith's demonstrated value to Atlanta's special teams' coverage units should keep him on the final roster.

Wide Receivers

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    Final roster spots:  Six (6)

    Roddy White, Julio Jones, Harry Douglas, Drew Davis, Kevin Cone and Martel Moore

    Practice squad:  Darius Johnson

     

    Analysis

    Atlanta opts to take six receivers on its final roster in this projection after a tough training camp battle for the wide receiver roster spots behind Roddy White, Julio Jones and Harry Douglas. 

    Drew Davis got a lot of quality playing time last season, and he caught a touchdown pass against the Eagles.  In addition, Kevin Cone was a valuable member of Atlanta's special teams units before being placed on injured reserve in December.

    Martel Moore's ability to transition into a pro-style offense and make an impact as a special teams player gives him the edge over SMU product Darius Johnson in this scenario.

Tight Ends

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    Final roster spots:  Three (3)

    Tony Gonzalez, Levine Toilolo and Chase Coffman

     

    Analysis

    The Falcons should come out of training camp with a solid group at tight end behind Tony Gonzalez.  While Levine Toilolo's ball skills may need a little work, he shouldn't have a problem establishing himself as a blocker early in his career. 

    Look for Chase Coffman to play Michael Palmer's former role as a utility tight end.

Offensive Line

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    Final roster spots:  Eight (8)

    Offensive tackles (3):  Sam Baker, Lamar Holmes and Mike Johnson

    Offensive guards (4):  Justin Blalock, Garrett Reynolds, Joe Hawley and Phillipkeith Manley

    Center: (1): Peter Konz

    Practice squad:  Theo Goins (guard), Matt Smith (center)

     

    Analysis

    "Youth" is the watchword for the Falcons' offensive line group in 2013.  Lamar Holmes figures to slide into Tyson Clabo's spot at right tackle if he can hold off Mike Johnson, while Peter Konz will probably move back to his natural position and take over for Todd McClure at center.

    Mike Johnson may also be involved in the competition with Garrett Reynolds, Joe Hawley and Phillipkeith Manley at right guard.

    Former Central Florida guard Theo Goins and former Kentucky center Matt Smith are probably the early favorites to make the practice squad from the group of undrafted free-agent offensive linemen that the Falcons signed because of their experience playing against high-level competition in college.

Defensive Line

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    Final roster spots: Eleven (11)

    Defensive tackle (5):  Jonathan Babineaux, Corey Peters, Peria Jerry, Travian Robertson and Micanor Regis

    Defensive end (6):  Osi Umenyiora, Kroy Biermann, Malliciah Goodman, Jonathan Massaquoi, Cliff Matthews and Stansly Maponga

    Practice squad:  Adam Replogle (defensive tackle)

     

    Analysis

    Jonathan Babineaux, Corey Peters, Osi Umenyiora and Kroy Biermann will likely form Atlanta's base front four, but expect Atlanta to rotate a lot of bodies along the defensive line as they look to keep pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

    Travian Robertson takes over for Vance Walker as a key reserve at defensive tackle, while Malliciah Goodman and Cliff Matthews figure to push Kroy Biermann for time at left defensive end.

    Jonathan Massaquoi and Stansly Maponga will provide fresh, young legs behind Osi Umenyiora at right defensive end.

    Micanor Regis takes one of the last roster spots as a fifth defensive tackle in this scenario, but the Falcons could add another big-bodied veteran defensive tackle after the training camp cuts.

    The Falcons send former Indiana defensive tackle Adam Replogle to the practice squad in hopes of developing him into a utility reserve lineman.

Linebackers

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    Final roster spots: Five (5)

    Sean Weatherspoon, Stephen Nicholas, Akeem Dent, Nick Clancy, Pat Schiller

    Practice squad:  Brian Banks and Paul Worrilow

     

    Analysis

    Sean Weatherspoon, Stephen Nicholas and Akeem Dent are locks, but the Falcons' linebacking corps appears to be ripe for an undrafted free agent to steal a roster spot because of the lack of experience behind those three players.

    Special teams ace Robert James and 2012 practice squad member Pat Schiller are the early favorites to claim roster spots due to their experience with the team, but undrafted free agents Nick Clancy and Paul Worrilow expect to give James and Schiller all that they can handle in camp.

    In this scenario, Clancy edges James after showing that he has a higher ceiling at linebacker during the preseason.

    Brian Banks is the wild card of this group, and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Falcons try to keep him on the practice squad to continue his development if he doesn't earn a roster spot.

Defensive Backs

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    Final roster spots:  Nine (9)

    Cornerbacks (5): Asante Samuel, Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, Robert McClain and Dominique Franks

    Safeties (4):  William Moore, Thomas DeCoud, Charles Mitchell and Zeke Motta

    Practice squad:  Momo Thomas (cornerback), Kemal Ishmael (safety)

     

    Analysis

    The Falcons quickly transformed cornerback from a perceived weakness to a perceived strength after spending their first two draft picks on Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford.  Robert McClain and Dominique Franks join returning starter Asante Samuel to round out a quality group of cornerbacks on the final roster.

    Charles Mitchell and Zeke Motta have the physical tools to rise to the top of the group of safeties behind William Moore and Thomas DeCoud.

    Atlanta keeps undrafted free-agent cornerback Momo Thomas and seventh-round pick Kemal Ishmael on its practice squad after both show promise in the preseason in this projection.

Specialist

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    Final roster spots:  Three (3)

    Kicker:  Matt Bryant

    Punter:  Matt Bosher

    Long snapper:  Josh Harris

    Kick returner/punt returner:  Robert Alford (already included with cornerbacks)

    Reserve returners:  Jacquizz Rogers, Dominique Franks and Harry Douglas

     

    Analysis

    It's pretty much status quo here, as Atlanta retains its kicker, punter and holder after all three players performed well in 2012.

    The major change comes in the return game, where second-round pick Robert Alford will likely take over as the team's top kick and punt returner.

     

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