Post-Draft Ponderings: Which Falcons Could Get The Axe?

Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Fact: This is James Rael's thing but I'm stealing it for today. Take that, James!

We're a long ways off from August, and the Falcons still have minicamp, OTAs and offseason workouts ahead of them before training camp begins.

But with the 90-man offseason roster set and the front office unlikely to make many more additions or subtractions, now would be as good a time as any to look at this team's makeup and see where it could be shaped before the season truly begins. Remember, the Falcons are coming off 4-12. There's clearly more pressure on this coaching staff than ever to put together its absolute best roster.

So with that in mind, let's dive in.

Group 1: Peria Jerry, Cliff Matthews, Travian Robertson

Even with today's news that Adam Replogle will move to the offensive line, Atlanta still has 11 defensive linemen under contract if we count undrafted rookies Nosa Eguae and Donte Rumph. There will be casualties here.

Jerry, we can only assume, was brought back on board as offseason depth. But as a 3-tech lineman, he'll have an incredibly tough time trying to beat out Corey Peters, Jonathan Babineaux and possibly even Ra'Shede Hageman, depending on where defensive line Bryan Cox wants him to line up. Robertson, too, looks to be buried on the depth chart.

And Matthews, well, he really just isn't suited to play in any sort of 3-4 alignment, meaning he likely wouldn't see the field all that often next season anyways.

Group 2: Akeem Dent, Paul Worrilow, Stansly Maponga

Similar to the defensive line, Atlanta's corps of linebackers looks to be in the midst of an overhaul. The team drafted four in Prince Shembo, Marquise Spruill, Yawin Smallwood and Tyler Starr, and in addition signed college free agents Jacques Smith, Brendan Daley and Walker May.

It's not a stretch to think that at least a couple of those players will be replacing ones that were on last year's roster. Dent, of course, struggled last season before losing his job to the Worrilow/Bartu platoon. Worrilow, as much as we loved the plays he made last season, is simply ill-suited for a 3-4 as he is more of a chase-and-pursue linebacker that works better in space (as opposed to taking on and beating blockers).

As for Maponga, it might be a case of numbers. You'd think Umenyiora, Biermann and Massaquoi are locked in as well as Shembo. This could be a critical offseason for the former TCU standout to make his mark.

Group 3: Zeke Motta, Kemal Ishmael

Neither of these cuts would be all that shocking considering Motta struggled last season and Ishmael hardly played. Throw Dwight Lowery and third-round pick Dezmen Southward into the mix and it looks like at least one, if not both, will have to fight for his roster spot.

Group 4: Mike Johnson, Drew Davis, Patrick DiMarco, Dominique Davis

This is the "assorted offensive players" category.

What a difference a year has made for Johnson. Last August, he looked set to win the starting job at right tackle. Now he has only an outside chance at making the final roster after the Falcons drafted Jake Matthews at sixth overall. Sam Baker isn't going anywhere, and you'd have to think Mike Tice is at least content to leave Lamar Holmes in a backup role.

That leaves Johnson likely battling Ryan Schraeder for the fourth spot, and I'm not so sure he wins (I'm projecting Gabe Carimi as the backup left guard, which is where he played in Tampa).

It's anyone's guess who makes the team as the fifth or possibly sixth wideout. Davis got some extensive playing time with the injuries at receiver last season, but the results were mixed. The team may be more willing to give one of the newer guys a shot.

The earlier reports of Atlanta working out former Jacksonville fullback Greg Jones should tell you all you need to know about its satisfaction with the fullback position. Maurice Hagens is a stout blocker out of Miami who very well could have been a late draftee.

Last but not least, Davis should have his hands full trying to hold off Sean Renfree, the seventh-round pick from 2013. With just the preseason to judge both, my money's on Renfree to win the top backup job this time around.

What do you think? What's a surprise cut that could be coming in Atlanta this August?

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