You guys land on me hard for projected surprise cuts, and with good reason, because mine do sometimes backfire spectacularly. When I saw that Vaughn McClure had published his pre-camp 53 man roster, and it's got a few omissions that are sure to spark discussion, I knew I had to share them.
The biggest surprises in the list, which you should read in full, are the cuts of Darius Johnson, Lamar Holmes and Yawin Smallwood. Johnson is widely liked around the fanbase and showed some promise last year, but McClure has the team keeping just five receivers, with Drew Davis beating out Johnson. If the team were to keep five, I'd have to view that as a realistic possibility.
Holmes is a surprise because he started the majority of the team's games a year ago, and while he wasn't particularly good, he's still young, cheap and possessing prototypical size, not to mention that he reported to minicamp in much better shape than a year ago. Smallwood's a seventh rounder, so I can't say it's a true surprise. The big surprises come from who is making the roster in McClure's projection.
That's because McClure has the Falcons keeping 10 offensive linemen. In that case, Ryan Schraeder is a sensible choice, but Terren Jones is a massive surprise. Jones was a practice squad player last year and a mighty raw one, at that, so he'd have to have made enormous strides this offseason to boot Holmes off the roster entirely. Color me skeptical about that one.
Color me even more skeptical about outside linebacker, where McClure has not just seventh-rounder Tyler Starr making the final roster, but undrafted free agent Jacques Smith. The former Tennessee linebacker piled up 21.5 tackles for loss in four seasons in college, but there was no inkling he's been a true standout at camp and the Falcons would seem to have more enticing options. I'm not betting against Starr to make the roster, but as of now, I'd feel pretty comfortable betting that Smith hits the practice squad, at best.
I have a lot of respect for McClure's powers of prognostication, however, so monitor these names closely. Every offseason is home to a few surprises.
Share your 53 man projection below and your thoughts, as well. We'll do our next round at the start of preseason.