Position battles are the most important part of every Falcons training camp, because they are typically exciting and because they wind up determining starters. When you have a football team that’s projected to be as good as this one, getting the best possible roster matters a great deal.
I chatted with Jeanna Thomas, our intrepid beat reporter, about the position battles thus far. Here’s where they stand.
Brian Hill is fighting Terron Ward and B.J. Daniels for that third spot behind Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, and we fully expect him to win that job, even if the always reliable Vaughn McClure thinks he may be on the bubble. Ward’s still a legitimate option here, though, because he’s got experience.
Derrick Coleman is competing with Tyler Renew here, and Jeanna tells me she expects Coleman to win. The veteran is usually a good bet, especially when he has existing ties to Dan Quinn through his time with the Seahawks, but I do like Renew as a young, versatile option.
There’s been no obvious shift in this battle just yet, but Wes Schweitzer remains our predicted winner. He’s younger, he’ll be cost controlled longer than Ben Garland, and the Falcons seemingly have been grooming him for the role. Garland will put up a fight for certain, though.
The linebacker corps figures to be a major strength in 2017, regardless of who ends up starting next to Deion Jones in nickel sets. The early favorite for that honor is none other than our favorite rookie Duke Riley, with De’Vondre Campbell and Kemal Ishmael figuring to get plenty of snaps during the season. It’s Riley, though, we’re fairly convinced.
Andre Roberts is the obvious favorite, and Devin Fuller’s injury removed one of his few legitimate competitors for the gig. The Falcons have talked about Taylor Gabriel at returner, though, and that is so deeply intriguing that we have to consider it a legitimate possibility until we hear otherwise.