The Falcons have a solid rookie class, one that has managed to shine like a particularly bright desk lamp through the first preseason games. We have two more to go and plenty of regular season ahead, but there's reason to believe there's a few rookies who should have an impact, with the rest of the class hopefully building something solid for the future.
Let's take a quick look at the rookies expected to make a splash this year.
CB Desmond Trufant
He's going to start. Trufant is growing as a cover cornerback by the week and is more or less locked in opposite Asante Samuel, which means he'll get as many snaps as he can handle. He's the obvious choice for the team's Rookie of the Year, and he should lead all rookies in snaps, barring anything weird happening.
CB Robert Alford
A player with undeniable talent should not languish, and Alford has shown more than enough to earn himself some snaps.
Whether it's as a punt returner, a cornerback or a special teams gunner, Alford will get on the field plenty this year. As he continues to grow as a player, he should earn more trust from the coaching staff, but there's room in this defense for four cornerbacks to get their work regardless.
DE Malliciah Goodman
Ol' Violent Hands is in line for plenty of run. He's already proven he can be solid against the run, and if the pass rushing skills develop as anticipated, he'll be a key rotational lineman at the very least. There's still an outside chance he'll start Week 1 opposite Osi Umenyiora.
DE Stansly Maponga
Maponga could be the last guy off the bench at DE, but I don't expect him to be an inactive. He's got intriguing potential as a pass rusher and should get snaps to show it, especially if Kroy Biermann takes a ton of snaps at linebacker and the Falcons utilize Cliff Matthews more inside.
T Ryan Schraeder
It's looking increasingly likely that Schraeder is going to make this football team, and as the likely swing tackle, he may actually get some snaps. You could make a case for the athletic tackle taking on the Mike Johnson memorial role as a sixth lineman and bizarre receiving threat in the red zone, too. He knows how to sell steaks!
Okay, maybe that's not a lot of snaps, but it's significant for a UDFA.
Given their draft position, performances at camp and strength of the positions they play at, most of the rest of the rookie class will likely only get on the field sporadically, though they'll have a chance to make an impact nonetheless. Cuts are still a little ways away, but you should see guys like Kemal Ishmael and Paul Worrilow getting their chances.
Who's on your list of potential impactful rookies?