I'm going to be picking my way through the depth charts at various positions now that the draft has ended. Today, I thought it might be worth our while to take a closer look at defensive end, particularly after the Falcons selected Jonathan Massaquoi.
I still think there's a good chance that Massaquoi will play a little outside linebacker, thus dooming a player like Robert James to the axe.The Falcons have a decent blend of talent and upside at defensive end right now, and I don't think they want to cut Cliff Matthews or Lawrence Sidbury at this point. Listing Massaquoi as a linebacker and having him play some there would take care of the problem, allowing the Falcons to keep that chart intact.
Right now, here's how I see it shaking out.
John Abraham: Duh. He'll come off the field regularly, but he's still the best pass rusher the team has.
Ray Edwards: Will hopefully be totally healthy and more effective in the new scheme. He remains a great run-stopper.
Kroy Biermann: A little underappreciated. Does everything decently well, even though he had a down year in 2011. Will spell both Abe and Edwards regularly.
Lawrence Sidbury: This is a make-or-break year for El Sid. He was efficient in limited snaps last year, grabbing a few sacks and applying good pressure. He should get more snaps in a defense focused on getting to the passer.
Cliff Matthews: Only one year in and he ripped it up in pre-season, so I have to believe he'll get another shot on the active roster. Well-balanced skill set and considerable upside.
Jonathan Massaquoi: Will probably play some end. A natural pass rusher with an explosive first step, Mike Nolan will probably find him useful for putting the fear of God into slow-footed tackles.
How do you think the depth chart will shake out?