Drake London, Bryan Edwards, Olamide Zaccheaus, Auden Tate, and a few others will compete for only a few opportunities. Arthur Smith’s passing attack will feature Kyle Pitts and Cordarrelle Patterson; the targets will be few and far between for the wideouts. Despite Smith using 11 personnel (3 WRs) more than any other formation, the Falcons’ offense ran almost half of their plays out of two-receiver sets. So, the obvious answer would be Edwards and London for the majority of snaps, but don’t count out Zaccheaus stealing opportunities, given his pedigree working from the slot.
Ta’Quon Graham and Marlon Davidson will compete for snaps next to Grady Jarrett and Anthony Rush, who will likely be the team’s starting nose tackle in base packages. Graham was listed ahead of Davidson on the team’s depth chart in what feels like a make-it-or-break-it year for the Auburn product. Davidson just hasn’t been consistent, and Graham is looking to build off an impressive ending to his rookie campaign.
It seems from the outside that the Falcons are still waiting for Deion Jones to get healthy to either cut or trade him, but he could find himself on the roster when Week 1 rolls around. If that is the case, I imagine Debo and Rashaan Evans will be the starters, given their experience. Nick Kwiatkoski and Mykal Walker shouldn’t be counted out, though. The former is as experienced as Jones and Evans, but his best years are definitely behind him. On the other hand, Walker hasn’t had the chance to be a full-time starter in the NFL yet but has flashed at times.
Early reports have indicated Walker is blowing the staff away. Kwiatkoski is still capable of providing solid run defense, and Troy Andersen is an athletic marvel who could really become a difference-maker in Dean Pees’ defense. The second-round rookie will likely play sparingly during his first season because of the mental side of the game. On top of all the speculation regarding Jones’ future in Atlanta, this position battle should be the most competitive this offseason.
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire