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2017 NFL Draft: Falcons roster implications for three possible first round picks

The draft will shake up the roster, it’s just a question of which way.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Falcons are relatively set with their roster. Even if they only plug one or two of their remaining holes, they’ll be expected to contend, and they should be expected to contend. That said, any selection they make is going to have ripples that impact the rest of the roster.

Here, we’ll break down three positions the team might take in the first round and the resulting impacted players.

Pass rusher

Players Impacted: Adrian Clayborn, Brooks Reed, Derrick Shelby

Anyone the Falcons get at #31 isn’t likely to be a full-time defensive end, not that anyone on this defensive front is a full-time anything with the rotation Dan Quinn likes to do. But a rookie will definitely bite into the playing time available for players like those listed above.

Reed will find some time as Beasley’s direct backup and may play some linebacker, while both Clayborn and Shelby could slide inside at times on clear passing downs. The new guy is likely to soak up 30 or so snaps per game as a pass rusher, though, and pair with Vic Beasley fairly often. When that happens, Clayborn and Shelby will likely lose snaps as a result, and it could impact Clayborn’s fortunes when he’s a free agent in 2018, as well.

Hopefully the net result is an upgrade to the pass rush, however.


Players Impacted: Wes Schweitzer, Ben Garland, Hugh Thornton

The Falcons would probably like to upgrade at guard, but I’m not convinced they’ll make it a first round priority. If they do, there’s an obvious impact on the players already on the roster.

First off, Hugh Thornton may very well lose his roster spot as a result of a first round signing, though it won’t happen right away. The Falcons clearly like Schweitzer and would presumably want him to be the first option available if one of their starting guards got injured. Garland would continue to be a super sub and Alex Mack’s backup at center.

Schweitzer, meanwhile, will almost certainly be kept around as depth. His next chance to compete for a starting job will come after Andy Levitre departs from the team, whether that happens in 2018 or 2019.


Players Impacted: Ricardo Allen, Sharrod Neasman

Unless you’re looking at a first rounder, Allen should keep his starting job for this season, with the new guy getting plenty of snaps along the way. With a first rounder, things get complicated by the fact that the Falcons reportedly want to play three safeties more often. Considering that Keanu Neal is not losing his job, though, a first round safety would likely at least share time with Allen.

Neasman, meanwhile, would lose a shot at any sustained playing time, and might find his roster spot in danger if the Falcons add more safeties down the line. I like Neasman, however, and hope that won’t be his fate.

Ultimately, what you’re looking at is changes to the rotation at defensive end, and different starters if the Falcons elect to go for a guard or a safety.