Names you should know for this squad: Michael Turner, Roddy White, Matt Ryan, John Abraham and Tony Gonzalez.
If you haven't noticed, there is only one defensive player in that list. The Falcons, outside of one offensive tackle, drafted solely defensive players.
Name you might not know: Thomas Dimitroff. This is the Falcons GM pictured above who could mousse up one impressive fauxhawk if he chose to do so. That is the same man who believed Matt Ryan was the right draft pick for 2008 and Michael Turner would be an explosive runningback once out of the shadow of LaDainian Tomlinson.
The first pick this year for the Falcons was Peria Jerry, a three-technique passrushing defensive tackle that could bring a menacing rush with John Abraham or clog the run like recently-cut girth-beast Grady Jackson.
Atlanta's offense is potent, arguably top five in the NFL, and won't have problems putting points on the board. Much like the Saints, it will come down to how many points they can keep off the scoreboard for their opponents.
Experienced veterans are replaced with younger faster players. One exception to that statement is the acquisition of linebacker Mike Peterson from Jacksonville. Having played with Mike Smith, the Falcons head coach was pleased to work with a former player whom he admires.
Defensive Coordinator Brian VanGorder will earn his paycheck this year because he must mold the minds of several rookie players.
Looking ahead to the schedule, the Falcons have a daunting task. Chicago, Buffalo, Miami and San Francisco (along with the NFC East, AFC East like everyone else in their division). A bye week after three games plus playing Washington right after a Monday Night game in New Orleans could put wear and tear on this team after eight games.
Buffalo might be the easiest game since they play them for the last regular season home game. San Francisco's ship seems to be righted towards the end of the season by Singletary, but they did have a poor draft.
Depending on the play of defensive rookies and health, Atlanta could go no better than 10-6 this season. I don't see Matt Ryan having the "sophomore slump" because of his work ethic and addition of Tony Gonzalez.
On to Carolina.