We’re months away from seeing roster battles play out, but I’ve got the itch, and there’s not much to talk about over the next few months. Let’s check in on some of the most-anticipated battles a little early.
FB: Luke McNitt vs. Daniel Marx
The biggest (and arguably only) competition for a true starting spot on the roster. McNitt and Marx are both strong blockers who thrived in college and will be asked to take on significant special teams roles if they do end up making the roster. Either one could prove to be an effective, long-term option at the fullback position, and I’ll be hoping hard that one of them proves to be good enough to win the job outright. McNitt’s my early favorite, but that’s not based on anything concrete, and this should be a good battle.
WR: Russell Gage vs. Marvin Hall vs. Reggie Davis
The Falcons might keep two of these guys, but at the moment I’m leaning toward them keeping one. Gage is the odds-on favorite because he was drafted in the fifth round specifically to help out on special teams and develop as a receiver, but Hall got some run a year ago and has Steve Sarkisian ties, while Davis looked promising in preseason and stuck on the practice squad all year long.
All of these players are young, fast, affordable, and have some upside, so it’s just a question of who distinguishes themselves most at camp. Any one of them could also win the returner gig, making this a multi-layer competition.
OG: Sean Harlow vs. Wes Schweitzer
This one could actually get interesting. Ben Garland is locked in as the top backup on the interior of the offensive line—especially at center—but Schweitzer and Harlow could be and should be battling to be in the mix behind Andy Levitre and Brandon Fusco. Harlow sat in mothballs for a year in 2017, just like Schweitzer did the year before, but the team’s unceremonious dumping of Schweitzer as a starter this offseason may suggest they’ve seen enough not to be super high on him. You have to think Wes is the favorite here, but given that there may be only one roster spot for these two guys to fight over, I think Harlow will put up a legitimate battle.
DT: Deadrin Senat vs. Jack Crawford
These two will rotate, but Senat has an opportunity to win the lion’s share of the snaps if he can prove he’s a three down player and not just an early down run stuffer and pressure generator. He’s got the talent to do exactly that, but a healthy Crawford is a quality player and one that the coaching staff appears to like quite a bit. Neither should have any real competition for significant snaps from anyone else on the roster, leaving them to duke it out over the lion’s share next to Grady Jarrett. I really would like to see Senat blossom immediately into a star, as unrealistic as this is, so again this bears watching.
CB: Blidi Wreh-Wilson vs. The World
Maybe the Falcons will carry six cornerbacks, maybe they won’t. As it stands, the Falcons will have Brian Poole as their fourth cornerback, and they signed Justin Bethel to round out the depth chart and provide significant special teams value. That leaves Wreh-Wilson, who impressed in short run last year, to fight off the likes of:
- Leon McFadden
- Joseph Putu
- Deante Burton
- Justin Bethel
Wreh-Wilson is a good enough cornerback to be on this roster, but he may be the victim of a numbers game unless he can fight off Bethel and the UDFA types. It’ll be worth watching whether he does.
Let’s hear from you. Which battles do you care the most about?