After being praised for their general stability by The Ringer, another national media voice has thrown some plaudits the Atlanta Falcons’ way.
The MMQB’s Andy Benoit ranked his list of needy NFL teams, and he put the Falcons 30th out of the NFL’s 32 squads (hint: the Steelers and Patriots were below them, and the Jets and Browns were at the top).
Here’s what he wrote about the Falcons’ current roster situation.
Even with first-and-second-down D-linemen Dontari Poe, Adrian Clayborn, Courtney Upshaw and Ahtyba Rubin hitting free agency, the Falcons’ front is in fine shape. Every position on both sides of the line is set for the near future. Except guard. On the right, Wes Schweitzer, a sixth-round pick in 2016, improved late last year, particularly in pass protection, but he still has athletic limitations. Andy Levitre, 31, was solid on the left but finished the year on IR and now carries an $8.4 million cap number ($7 million of which can be scrapped with his release). Matt Ryan is at his best when climbing the pocket, so Atlanta will invest in that pocket’s cleanliness. Whoever they acquire must be mobile, too, as that’s critical in Atlanta’s outside-zone running scheme.
I don’t think you’d find many Atlanta folks who would disagree with assessment — guard is widely considered to be a position that could change hands this spring, and we’ll know sooner than later where the Falcons are going on this. Roster cuts could begin as soon as this month, and Levitre’s status will be one of the first big dominoes to fall.
Benoit seems to feel the Falcons are fine on the defensive line, and part of that probably stems from the respect Dan Quinn has garnered in his roster assembly. Even if they are to lose guys like Poe and Clayborn, they’ve shown the ability to fill in those gaps with promising talent, whether that be in free agency or the draft.
At the end of the day, I’m still waving toward the team keeping Levitre through a deal restructure, though with the tight cap what it is, you never know how that works out. Though, Levitre is so sound at the spot, and Schweitzer is so economical and still has room to grow at the position. It’s fair to argue the team should stand pat with the offensive line, too.
But, something’s going to change somewhere, so we’ll see how that all shakes out once roster decisions begin — which could start any day from here on out. If a move at guard is indeed coming, keep your eye on Georgia’s Isaiah Wynn throughout the process. He’s a prime target for the team’s 26th pick if the team wants to make a change at either guard spot.
Nice of Benoit to think of us, though. It’s rather amazing what Quinn’s done in his three years here with the roster. We’re in such a good place right now as a team — don’t wish these days away. Just remember the conversations we were having four years ago after going 4-12.