As we consider this new Atlanta Falcons draft class, there are a raft of questions that we’ll be picking apart in the coming days and weeks. Who has a big role in 2017? Who is the most likely breakout star in this group? Is there anyone who may not even make the roster this season?
One big question, though, is the same one that followed the 2016 NFL Draft. How many starters are in this group?
For the 2017 season, I’m guessing the answer to that is going to be not many. Takkarist McKinley will almost certainly get starter’s snaps once he’s healthy and up to speed, but that’s still likely to only be 30-40 snaps per game in the team’s deep, varied defensive line rotation. Duke Riley could surprise and seize a starting gig immediately, but I think he’s more likely to be a part-time player and core special teamer who will take the role away from one of Kemal Ishmael or De’Vondre Campbell a little bit down the line. Sean Harlow could win the starting right guard job, but my money is still on Wes Schweitzer or a veteran signing.
That means that initially, this class is going to be rich in reserves and special team contributors, which might put some fans off. I’m a big believer in the potential here, however, and I don’t think it will take much longer than a season before we start to see this
If we’re talking about the long haul, it would not surprise me in the slightest if the Falcons got four starters out of this class. McKinley, Riley, Harlow, and Kazee all look like potential starters, while Hill and Saubert figure to top out as (potentially very) useful backups. It’s the kind of class that has the potential to augment an already strong team, and I do think the Falcons will squeeze at least three quality starters out of it when the dust settles. Considering they were picking near the end of every round before making their various trades, that’s an impressive haul.
What do you think?