Atlanta’s remaking its defense in a lot of ways heading into 2016, and one of the spots that could (and should) look radically different is defensive end. Let’s take a look at the current roster there, and figure out who is sticking around and who is danger of heading elsewhere.
Derrick Shelby, Dwight Freeney, Adrian Clayborn
On the bubble
Courtney Upshaw, Malliciah Goodman, Brandon Williams, Ivan McLennan, Efe Obada, Nordly Capi
I’ll be honest with you right off the bat: Not all of these guys are going to play defensive end full-time, but enough will be there primarily that I feel comfortable adding them to the list.
The safe guys are obvious. Freeney just signed and will be counted on to help the pass rush, Shelby is on a nice long-term deal, and Clayborn looks good. That leaves the list after that to compete for what will likely end up being one or (at most) two open spots.
Out of the list, Upshaw (who is a terrific run defender, if nothing else) and McLennan (who has shown a lot of early promise) are my two favorites for roster spots. Goodman, of course, is the incumbent, and shouldn’t be counted out entirely.