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Falcons 53 man roster projection, early training camp edition

Who makes it, and who gets left behind?

Atlanta Falcons Practice Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

We’re a handful of days into training camp, and that means we’re just about due to take another swing at the 53 man roster.

What should you expect from this roster? An emphasis on depth for a team that is loaded with quality starters who would be difficult to replace with any one player if they went down. There probably won’t be a ton of surprises here, but then, the Falcons have strong candidates for most of their 53 man roster.

Here’s the projection. Argue with it as you will, please.

Falcons 53 man roster projection

QB Matt Ryan
QB Matt Schaub

RB Devonta Freeman
RB Tevin Coleman
RB Ito Smith

FB Luke McNitt

WR Julio Jones
WR Mohamed Sanu
WR Calvin Ridley
WR Justin Hardy
WR Marvin Hall
WR/CB Russell Gage

TE Austin Hooper
TE Logan Paulsen
TE Eric Saubert

T Jake Matthews
T Ryan Schraeder
T Ty Sambrailo

G Andy Levitre
G Brandon Fusco
G Wes Schweitzer
G Sean Harlow

C Alex Mack
C/G Ben Garland

DE Vic Beasley
DE Takkarist McKinley
DE Brooks Reed
DE Derrick Shelby
DE J’Terius Jones

DT Grady Jarrett
DT Jack Crawford
DT Deadrin Senat
DT Terrell McClain
DT Garrison Smith

LB Deion Jones
LB De’Vondre Campbell
LB Duke Riley
LB Kemal Ishmael
LB Foye Oluokun
LB Emmanuel Smith

CB Desmond Trufant
CB Robert Alford
CB Isaiah Oliver
CB Brian Poole
CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson
CB Justin Bethel

S Keanu Neal
S Ricardo Allen
S Damontae Kazee
S Ron Parker

K Matt Bryant
P Matt Bosher
LS Josh Harris

So what’s different here from my last projection months ago? First and foremost is probably the addition of Sean Harlow, who I think the team would like to keep around if at all possible. The Falcons are far from guaranteed to have Andy Levitre and Ben Garland around a year from now, and the former fourth round pick could at least step in as a reserve in 2019.

Or perhaps it’s Blidi Wreh-Wilson, who would be buried on the depth chart and typically a gameday inactive in this scenario. Or maybe it’s UDFA linebacker Emmanuel Smith, who I like as a developmental player for an Atlanta team that may not have Kemal Ishmael after this season.

Any way you slice it, you’ll note the bottom of the depth chart is populated by young players who either have fit needs if the Falcons find starters struggling or hurt. For example, J’Terius Jones showed some pass rushing chops in last year’s preseason and has now been around the team for a full calendar year, and his pass rushing ability would be needed if the team lost Takk McKinley or Vic Beasley for any length of time, given the limitations of Brooks Reed (to a lesser extent) and Derrick Shelby in that kind of role. Or take Marvin Hall, whose speed would be an asset if the Falcons had to go without Calvin Ridley or Julio Jones.

Then you have your core special teamers like Kemal Ishmael, Justin Bethel and Russell Gage, who should help the team improve on some pretty awful teams play in 2017.

It’s not a perfect roster, but I think it’s sufficiently deep to carry the Falcons through the season. As always, though, this one won’t turn out to be perfect, so give us your best guess.