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How Does the Post-Draft Safety Depth Chart Shake Out?

Fact: Willy Mo is ALWAYS ready, but if he's not, Zeke Motta could help

Gregory Shamus

In case you missed it, the Falcons drafted 2 safeties in the NFL draft. Those safeties are former UCF standout Kemal Ishmael and former Notre Dame defensive captain/most valuable player Zeke Motta. Both have a chance to make the team, though it's highly doubtful that both will, in fact, make the team. I'd guess Motta will and Ishmael won't, but that's just my best guess, absent any real, substantive evaluation of either man. I went to a few games while Motta was at Notre Dame, and from what I recall, the announcer called his name an awful lot. That has to mean something, right?

For what it's worth, Ishmael led his college team in tackles 3 times, and he's a former Conference USA defensive player of the year. Unfortunately he hasn't played against the kind of talent he will see at the next level, not even close. Ishmael is known as an aggressive athlete, which generally bodes well for special teams success. While he's not particularly fast, he is versatile, and he could probably back up either safety position adequately at the next level. That said, I'd hate to rely on him in a crunch. I'm just not sure the talent is there. If the Falcons depth chart battle played out in a vacuum, he'd be a great special teamer. Unfortunately we don't always have that luxury.

Motta, on the other hand, is built to succeed at the next level. He lacks straight line speed, and he won't ever be the best athlete on the field. Nonetheless, he's got the football smarts to make up for his physical inadequacies, and he's a proven leader. I have a hard time believing he can't duplicate or exceed Shann Schillinger's production. Even so, if he puts on another 10-15 pounds, he could probably play some linebacker, hence why he's drawn some comparisons to former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

At this point, the Falcons have 4 safeties under contract: William Moore, Thomas Decoud, Shann Schillinger, and Charles Mitchell. I don't see the Falcons carrying 6 safeties, though they'd certainly carry 5, assuming the 5th safety could be used in a variety of ways. Perhaps Motta can fill that roll, playing primarily on special teams, playing a few snaps at linebacker in some sort of a nickel sub package, and spelling Moore/Decoud as needed.

Your thoughts?