I've picked five players I believe have roster spots/starting roles sewn up, even before the Falcons take the field again on Saturday. We're not talking about the blindingly obvious choices, like Matt Ryan, Julio Jones or Osi Umenyiora. These are players who due to lack of serious competition or stellar performances have little to no chance of getting cut before the start of the season, barring an injury of any kind. They are...locked in.
Let's get to 'em.
Davis earned a spot on the team last year despite being a young, unpolished ECU quarterback on a team that seemed to love veteran backups. The Falcons were confident enough in him to come into training camp with Double D running as the clear backup. And despite a fairly major misstep in the first preseason game, he rallied against a tough Ravens defense, looking mighty sharp throughout his playing time.
The Falcons think they got a steal in Sean Renfree, and he's looked fairly good in his snaps thus far. Davis has the arm strength, athleticism and quick read ability to be a succesful backup at minimum, and for 2013 at least, he's only behind Matt Ryan on the depth chart. Bank on it.
Drew Davis came into this year as the overwhelming favorite for fourth receiver duties, having hauled in a touchdown in 2012 and having shown well in practice. After two quality preseason games where most of his competition has battled drops or separation issues, Davis is clearly the fourth receiver. It's over.
That's good news for the Falcons, because they've needed one of these UDFA types to step up and turn into a reliable NFL receiver for a while now, just in case their injury luck runs out. Davis looks like that guy.
While we continue to buzz over who will win out at right guard—and whether Lamar Holmes can hold on at right tackle—Konz has quietly sewn up the starting center gig.
He hasn't done it in a particularly quiet way, either, looking borderline dominant for stretches at his natural position in the first two preseason games. He's been so good that there's been no room for talk of Joe Hawley for weeks and weeks now, and the spotlight has moved to the right side of the line.
Konz is locked in, and he could have a future as a Pro Bowl center. I'm quite high on him.
Linebacker has been a shallow position for this Falcons team for years. All Paul Worrilow has done in two games is pile up a dozen or so tackles, come up with a sack, force a (later overturned) fumble and look like a guy inhabited by a sphere of lightning. He's been good, is what I mean, and on this roster two electrifying games should get him a job, even if it's the last linebacker on the bench.
He's not the answer in coverage at this point in his career, and he may never be. There's still a lot to like with Worrilow.
This is the only vaguely controversial choice, I'd wager, which fits my M.O. of avoiding controversy at all costs.
Trufant is going to start opposite Asante Samuel. There are many who would prefer Robert Alford, who is almost unfairly physically gifted, but it's not going to happen. Alford is too physical at this point and not polished enough to know how to avoid costly penalties, and while he's shone against backups, there's not the sense that he can immediately be a top-tier corner against starters. Trufant may not be either, but he's closer to being ready.
That's not a knock on Alford, who could be ready for a starting role as soon as 2014 and could be the best draft pick of this particular class before everything's over. It's an acknowledgement that for all the overblown noise about Trufant's "struggles," he hasn't been outplayed by Alford, he remains a natural cornerback who plays hard and closes on the ball well, and he's got the starting job.
End of story.
I could choose others, here, but I'm keeping this relatively concise to give you all something to talk about.
Feel free to chime in and tell me either how brilliant I am or how very, very wrong I am, because I am a fool.
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