Position battles are one of the most underrated concepts in the NFL.
Position battles have the ability to not only bring the best man forward, but also to improve the depth of a position. Every coach in the NFL prefers competition over guaranteed spots.
The problem is in order to have solid competition on your roster you need to always have a revolving door of talent. The Falcons have had this the past two years, and this year is no exception.
One of, if not the biggest, position battle in Atlanta this offseason is the fight for starting strong safety. There are two very young players and then a veteran, who has been a career backup.
Competition: Thomas DeCoud vs. Jamaal Fudge vs. William Moore
Situation: Last season the Falcons had Lawyer Milloy at strong safety at almost every game. Although Milloy became a liability in pass coverage, he still was one of the most solid tacklers in the NFL.
Despite his productivity though, the Falcons had to release him due to his age and flaws. So now the Falcons face a new problem: who of the young safeties on the roster do they turn to?
Pros: He has great speed for a strong safety and the ability to truly knock out a runner. He has a history of being a strong tackler.
Cons: He is a little bit to light to be a strong safety in the NFL and has not shown that he can consistently preform at the NFL level
Pros: He has spent his entire career with Mike Smith, is a very solid tackler, and has been a solid contributor on special teams for three years in the NFL.
Cons: He is 5'9", which is quite small for an NFL safety and could lead to faults in coverage. He does not bring anything special to the table.
Pros: He has an amazing college pedigree, especially in 2007. He has great size for a strong safety at 220 and has, by far, the best coverage ability in the group.
Cons: Last season, he was plagued by injuries, which can still be in question, and he has never played in an NFL game.
The Verdict: Knowing the way that Mike Smith coaches, the odds on favorite to win the job would have to be William Moore.
The only way I could see Moore not getting the starting job is barring some injury to him or a break out by DeCoud.
I truly do not see Fudge being a factor in this race, not because he doesn't posses the skills, but because the NFL is a business.
Moore, a second round pick, and DeCoud, a third round pick, both were drafted by Mike Smith in high rounds.
So the final depth chart will read William Moore, Thomas Decoud, and then special teamer Jamaal Fudge.