Competition during training camp has long been a theme of the Mike Smith-coached Falcons. We've heard time and time again how the best 53 players will make the final roster regardless of other factors. It's a theme for the Falcons again heading into training camp, but the team seems to be more serious about it following last year's abysmal 4-12 finish.
Head coach Mike Smith said last week that, at this point, only a handful to a handful and a half of players currently on the roster have secured spots on the final 53-man roster for the 2014 season. This statement came right on the heels of the
blockbuster trade that sent linebacker Akeem Dent to Houston for quarterback T.J. Yates, so Smith did confirm that Matt Ryan is one of those few players that have secured a roster spot for the coming season. There will be no quarterback controversy in Atlanta.
So who are the other players, in Smitty's mind, who have locked up roster spots for 2014? I'll shoot toward the high end of that estimate and give you my eight players--approximately a handful and a half, rounded up--that I think are roster locks.
Matt Ryan is the easiest one, because Smith confirmed that he is one of the players guaranteed to make the final roster.
Julio Jones is one of the most talented young receivers in the league. Jones will definitely stick around.
Roddy White is a cornerstone of the Falcons' offense. Especially with Tony Gonzalez gone, the Falcons will not cut ties with the players who should easily be their most prolific receivers next season.
Desmond Trufant is another easy choice. The second-year player performed extremely well in his rookie season and is expected to do the same in 2014.
Jake Matthews is on my list, because you don't cut ties with your first round draft pick, especially one who seems to be picking up the scheme effectively at a position of such great need.
William Moore is a veteran Falcon on a defense filled with young players and new free agent acquisitions, and at a position where the Falcons definitely don't have quality, proven depth.
Jonathan Babineaux will stick around for the same reasons that William Moore will. Babs is really reliable, is still a solid contributor, and provides veteran leadership.
Matt Bosher rounds out my list. I genuinely don't think he's going anywhere.
Which seven or eight players do you think are locks to make the final roster in 2014?