The 2014 Atlanta Falcons were a rickety, shallow team that clung to a few pieces of sturdy driftwood when injuries struck. The team was lucky to have Ryan Schraeder at right tackle and Kemal Ishmael at strong safety, but mostly the ongoing hit parade served to illustrate just how thin the team really was.
On paper, at least, that has changed in 2015. A linebacking corps shakier than a man on stilts during an earthquake now has a couple of legitimate starters and a ton of competition duking it out for backup roles, for one, and the offensive line looks just a little more robust than it might have a year ago. These are baby steps by necessity—you can't overhaul an entire roster and provide depth across the board in a single offseason—but they count for something.
Last year, the Falcons had Harry Douglas as their #3 wide receiver, and he was a steady known quantity. After that, it was Devin Hester, Eric Weems and a revolving door of undrafted rookie free agents.
This season, the Falcons will trot out intriguing rookie Justin Hardy and Leonard Hankerson, pushing Hester down to the #5 receiver role, where his speed can be useful as an essentially part-time weapon. The team still has Freddie Martino, Bernard Reedy and a few others hanging around, as well, and Eric Weems may very well be there in case things go awry on the injury front. It's still a huge drop-off from Julio Jones, but there's more talent here than there was just a year ago.
See note above. The Falcons now have Brooks Reed, Paul Worrilow and Justin Durant as competent starters, and they have a ton of young options to back them up, creating the kind of competition that was lacking the last two seasons. It's not likely to be a team strength, but
This might as well not even be the same position. A year ago, the Falcons had Levine Toilolo and block-first Bear Pascoe. This year they have Toilolo, but they added competent starter Jacob Tamme, the oft-injured but talented Tony Moeaki and familiar face Mickey Shuler. The position now goes three deep, at least, instead of barely two deep.
Desmond Trufant makes your cornerback corps look good, of course, but t his was a position that didn't have much in the way of depth a year ago. The team never played Javier Arenas and Ricardo Allen, leaving Josh Wilson to carry a lot of the load behind Trufant and Robert Alford.
This year, Wilson is gone, but the Falcons now have Phillip Adams, rookie Jalen Collins, Dezmen Southward and perhaps seventh round rookie Akeem King competing at cornerback. The team can feel pretty confident that they'll at least be able to toss a decent player out there if injuries of ineffectiveness strikes.
It's not universal, but the Falcons do appear deeper. Where would you say the team added depth?