The Falcons brought in their usual boatload of undrafted free agents, and it's fair to suggest that more than one of these players has a chance to stick on the final roster. The question is, who?
Every year, you get a Terron Ward (2015) or a Paul Worrilow (2013) who sticks on the roster, carves out a role, and surprises everyone. This year, with the Falcons adding some players the coaching staff has already been talking up, and with the team's weak depth at positions like cornerback, tight end, and linebacker, I'm going to be #bold and say you'll see at least two stick around, with a few more landing on the practice squad.
Let's take a look at some of the early favorites.
DE Ivan McLennan
The Falcons have Derrick Shelby, Adrian Clayborn, and Courtney Upshaw as likely choices at defensive end with Brooks Reed, Vic Beasley and others mixing in, but there's not a lot in terms of pure defensive end depth on this roster. McLennan has stood out early from the pack, showing good athleticism and power, and may appeal to the Falcons as a developmental option more than Malliciah Goodman, who has been spinning his tires on this roster for a few years now. McLennan would likely be a gameday inactive early, but there's enough skill here to think he might be an active reserve before long if he can just stick now.
CB Brian Poole
Keanu Neal's mate in the secondary at Florida doesn't boast ideal size, but he's an active cornerback with terrific instincts and pretty polished zone coverage ability. There's work to be done on his game and he doesn't appear to have the size or skillset to be a long-term starter, but the Falcons are hurting for cornerback depth beyond Akeem King and Poole looms as a potential low-cost, moderate-upside option for the team. There's always the possibility he could play some safety for Atlanta, too, but I don't see it at the moment.
CB/S Sharrod Neasman
A quick, agile player who has the potential to play some safety and cornerback at the next level, Neasman is a willing tackler and offers ball skills. The Falcons love versatility across the board, and Neasman could stick as a fourth safety and fifth cornerback if he shows up and impresses the coaching staff this summer. He and McLennan currently top my list of likely additions to the roster, for what it's worth.
FB Will Ratelle
Patrick DiMarco just made the Pro Bowl, so I don't think Ratelle is going to make it as a pure fullback. He was a productive, hard-hitting linebacker in college, however, so the Falcons might be willing to try him out as a hybrid offensive/defensive player, depending on how creative they want to get. DiMarco is only under contract through this year, so keep that in mind.
RB Brandon Wilds
A productive runner, with 1,844 yards on just 379 carries, Wilds is a strong guy who can catch the football out of the backfield. He'd be battling Terron Ward and Gus Johnson for the third back duties in Atlanta, and I don't think either one is enough of a world beater that we can assume Wilds is a longshot.
K Nick Rose
This is a weird one, but the coaching staff has really talked him up early as a potential contender for the kicking job. I don't see the kind of accuracy and consistency that would justify booting Matt Bryant from the roster, but Rose does have a strong leg, and the Falcons would love to have a dirt cheap kicking option for the next few years. Monitor him, at the very least.
There's a few other borderline guys, but I didn't want to make this list too long and be accused of hedging my bets. Who do you think makes the roster?