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Falcons 2016 roster review: running back and full back

Think of all the battles that will happen among the guys who don't make the roster!

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

The depth charts are basically set at running back and full back. The only competition is likely at the very bottom of the roster, between guys you vaguely remember and other guys you have never heard of.

First, the running backs.

Devonta Freeman

Freeman is coming off of his second season and his first Pro Bowl selection. He was a force early in the season, and had more touchdowns than most teams for nearly half of the year. Freeman proved to be a force when catching the ball, and had impressive vision and balance. However, he fell off and put up pedestrian numbers after injuries to the offensive line, and basically a full team collapse. He was a star when Kyle Shanahan's offense was humming, but more often than not pedestrian when the offense struggled. Freeman should get the majority of snaps, but is the clear starter.


Tevin Coleman

The clear backup, Coleman should eat more into Freeman's snaps this season. While he was inconsistent as a rookie and struggled to hold onto the ball at important times, his blazing speed will get him plenty of opportunities. He put up a good 4.5 YPC, but had under 400 yards rushing, was not an option in the passing game, and lost three fumbles. The potential is there, and he will get his fair share of carries on early downs. He could be one of the most boom-or-bust backup running backs in the league. He nearly earned an incomplete grade, but his 110 rushing yards against the Minnesota Vikings makes me excited about his potential as the backup.


Terron Ward

Impressive in camp, but invisible outside of it, Ward stuck as the third back all last year. He plodded to 3.3 YPC, but held his own catching the ball and blocking. We expected Ward to be a bruiser at the goal line, but Freeman was unstoppable early on and never gave him a chance. Ward is well-rounded, but not particularly great at anything. He will need a good camp to hold onto his roster spot.


Gus Johnson

If this name is vaguely familiar, it might be because Johnson was a preseason superstar for the Dallas Cowboys, who cut him before the season. He bounced around the Atlanta and the Dallas practice squad, but never spent time on an active roster. He has similar size as Ward, and is the best competition for the third running back spot.


Brandon Wilds

Wilds, an undrafted free agent, will try to make an impact in camp but should face an uphill battle. Odds are the Falcons will only be keeping three backs, so he needs to beat out two other players who had time with the team. He is a hefty 6-foot-2, 220-pounds, and had a great combine (4.54 40!), but spent most of college at South Carolina hurt and deep in the rotation. He provides some upside, but based solely on a better-than-expected combine.


The full backs will be blissfully short.

Patrick DiMarco

Pro Bowler, PFF super star, an adept blocker with great speed and can make a play with the ball. DiMarco is the unquestioned starter and is still under contract for almost nothing.


Will Ratelle

Ratelle must not have received any good offers after the draft, because he has a similar journey as Matt Simms needs to gain the starting spot over Matt Ryan. Short of an injury giving him some potential to stick on the roster, Ratelle is just a camp body.


The team looks set at halfback and fullback, with a core of three young, cheap, and effective players making way for what should a dominant run game. This may be the team's most stacked position, and the Falcons earned this grade.