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Falcons 53-man roster projection: Preseason Week 4

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The final 53-man roster projection for the 2017 Atlanta Falcons is here.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve made it to the end. On Thursday, the Falcons will play their fourth and final preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. After that, a mere 3 days later, Atlanta (and every other team) will slice their roster nearly in half. That 53-man group represents the final 53-man roster, and that is what I am trying to predict for you today.

This projection hasn’t changed a ton from last week’s, because I feel that the roster is actually pretty settled at this point. There are also a few players that I believe could be cut and replaced with acquisitions off the waiver wire. At this point, though, this is the closest I can possibly come to predicting the make-up of the 2017 Atlanta Falcons.

I hope you enjoy my final projection, and I hope it is at least somewhat accurate. If you’d like to read my previous projections, you can find them here: post-draft, pre-camp, Preseason Week 2, Preseason Week 3. Changes from my previous iteration are denoted with italics.


OFFENSE - 25

QB - 2

QB Matt Ryan
QB Matt Schaub

No change here once again. Ryan has been good throughout the preseason, and you shouldn’t panic about a lackluster game against the Cardinals. Schaub has been pretty mediocre thus far, but he’s got experience in the scheme and as a starter. With the rest of the first team offense around him, the hope is that he could be serviceable if called upon.

RB - 4

RB Devonta Freeman
RB Tevin Coleman
RB Terron Ward
RB Brian Hill

Brian Hill looked a lot better playing with the first team offense, which creates a tough situation for the roster. Ward has outplayed Hill, but Hill is a rookie and has a lot of upside. The team might have to bite the bullet and keep both of them this season, as Ward appears to be the most viable back-up right now.

FB - 1

FB Derrick Coleman

Coleman has looked competent thus far, although we haven’t really seen much of him in the preseason. The hope is that he can be a decent blocking FB with the ability to catch a few passes from time to time. He’s not going to be Patrick DiMarco, but ideally he’ll be good enough to warrant a roster spot and a spot on the field.

WR - 6

WR Julio Jones
WR Mohamed Sanu
WR Taylor Gabriel
WR Justin Hardy
WR Andre Roberts
WR Reggie Davis

No change here, either. The top-5 are still locked in, even though Roberts has flirted with disaster a few times. Reggie Davis appears to have a slight lead over Marvin Hall at this point, and I believe his skillset is better suited to what the Falcons need as their 6th WR (at least on offense). This will be ultimately decided on Thursday, as both Davis and Hall will receive plenty of opportunities to show off against the Jaguars.

TE - 3

TE Austin Hooper
TE Levine Toilolo
TE Eric Saubert

My most contentious prediction always seems to be that I have Saubert making the roster. I’m not saying Saubert has been great, but unless the team is planning on signing a veteran—say, Gary Barnidge—then who makes the roster over him? Josh Perkins, Darion Griswold? Neither of those guys has done anything either. Saubert looked improved against Arizona, and will get another shot to show more progress this week.

OL - 9

LT Jake Matthews
LG Andy Levitre
C Alex Mack
RG Wes Schweitzer
RT Ryan Schraeder

T Austin Pasztor
G/C Ben Garland
G Sean Harlow
T D.J. Tialavea

The OL depth is perhaps the biggest weakness on the roster right now. It’s been almost impossible to evaluate much of the talent in the second and third strings because the line is allowing pressure on every snap. The team made an effort to correct this by bringing in veteran T Austin Pasztor, but we won’t get a chance to see him this preseason. Currently, D.J. Tialavea gets the last OL spot on the 53-man roster. But it’s a near-certainty that the team brings in another veteran offensive lineman after final cuts to help shore up the depth.


DEFENSE - 25

EDGE - 4

EDGE Vic Beasley
EDGE Takkarist McKinley
EDGE Brooks Reed
EDGE J’Terius Jones

The first change from last week’s projection has J’Terius Jones once again finding his way onto the roster. His versatility and ability to line up at SAM help address the depth at multiple spots. The starters here, including electric rookie Takkarist McKinley, look pretty darn good as well.

DE/DT - 4

DE/DT Adrian Clayborn
DE/DT Jack Crawford
DE/DT Derrick Shelby
DE/DT Courtney Upshaw

This group is once again the same, and somehow looks even better after the third preseason game. Jack Crawford absolutely lit it up in his second performance with the Falcons. Clayborn forced a fumble and generally looked more like his 2016 self. Shelby and Upshaw provide valuable depth to the rotation, and can play at any spot along the defensive line.

DT - 3

DT Grady Jarrett
DT Dontari Poe
DT Ra’shede Hageman

Grady Jarrett and Dontari Poe once again looked like a formidable duo against the Cardinals. These two should form the backbone of an improved and more versatile defensive line for Atlanta. Hageman will be primarily a rotational player, but he’s continued to show flashes of dominant play throughout the preseason.

LB - 5

LB Deion Jones
LB Duke Riley
LB De’Vondre Campbell
LB Kemal Ishmael
LB Jermaine Grace

The other change comes after the news of LaRoy Reynolds injury. We currently don’t have specifics, but I don’t expect him to be available for some time. He could end up on the IR boomerang, which would mean the Falcons would have a choice to make. I think they decide to go down to 5 LBs, and let Jermaine Grace—an UDFA who has been very impressive throughout the preseason—take Reynolds spot as a reserve and special teams contributor.

CB - 5

CB Desmond Trufant
CB Robert Alford
CB Brian Poole
CB C.J. Goodwin
CB Deji Olatoye

No changes here. Trufant, Alford, and Poole have all looked like their old selves in the preseason. Goodwin played John Brown correctly on that TD pass, and I don’t fault him for a perfect throw from the QB. Olatoye has been solid and provides a good depth piece. With Collins returning late in the season, the team can afford to carry fewer CBs on the roster now.

SS - 2

SS Keanu Neal
SS Sharrod Neasman

Neal looked like a heat-seeking missile against the Cardinals. It will be interesting to see his development in his sophomore season, but it’s clear that he is already among the league’s best SS. Neasman has been a solid depth piece and has found the field often in 3 safety sets. He’s also been a factor on special teams, making him an easy favorite for the reserve SS role.

FS - 2

FS Ricardo Allen
FS Damontae Kazee

Allen looked very impressive against the Cardinals, breaking up two passes in limited action. He’s beginning to get more comfortable in his role as a FS only two years after transitioning from CB. Kazee’s injury appears to be relatively minor, and the rookie was quite impressive during the preseason games he played. He’ll be the primary back-up, and is likely to be the favorite to start in three safety sets once healthy.


SPECIAL TEAMS - 3

K Matt Bryant
P Matt Bosher
LS Josh Harris

This group has been around for awhile, and it doesn’t appear that they’re going anywhere this season. Bryant has looked like his old self. Bosher has made some excellent punts and tackles. Harris has been exactly what you want out of a LS—invisible.


PRACTICE SQUAD - 10

  • QB Alek Torgersen - Simms isn’t eligible for the practice squad, so unless the team plans to bring in someone else, Torgersen appears to be a lock to make the squad.
  • CB Jarnor Jones - Jones got burned by Cardinals’ starting receiver John Brown, but don’t let that ruin your thoughts on him. He’s an athletic DB in the mold Quinn covets.
  • DT Taniela Tupou - Tupou is actually only the fourth pure DT on the roster. He’s had some flashes in the preseason, and sticks around as depth on the squad.
  • FB Tyler Renew - As I’ve said before, I think Renew is the FB of the future for Atlanta. He’s athletic and has a lot of potential. He makes the squad and competes for the starting role again in 2018.
  • K Mike Meyer - Meyer has been pretty impressive thus far. The team seems to like him as well, and so they keep him on the squad as insurance for the ageless wonder Bryant.
  • S Quincy Mauger - Mauger has looked impressive in limited time, which is more than you can say for the other safeties. He’s the best bet to make the squad of the bunch.
  • TE Josh Perkins - Perkins finds himself off the roster due to the presence of the rookie Saubert, but the team keeps him close in case of any injuries.
  • WR Marvin Hall - Hall could very easily find himself making the roster over Reggie Davis if the team values his special teams contributions more than Davis’ offensive ones. The fourth preseason game will likely decide this battle.
  • LB Josh Keyes - Keyes stays close to the roster in case of injury, which is doubly important due to Reynolds’ potential absence.
  • OT Andreas Knappe - With Graf receiving any injury settlement, the team picks Knappe as their practice squad lineman. Knappe is still quite raw, but he has the physical tools to warrant stashing him for a year to develop.

There it is, my final roster projection of the offseason. It’s a happy occasion, because it means that we’re almost ready for real live meaningful football. But what are your thoughts? Players you’d place differently? Anyone that you’d shuffle around?