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5 Falcons who may be on the roster bubble after the NFL Draft

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Due to crowded depth charts, cap charges, or just the vagaries of Falcons roster construction, these five players may not be here come September.

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

With the draft dust settled, the next great frontier for the Falcons will be the roster battles, which will allow the team to trim down from 90 players to the mandated 53 in early September. Here in the early going, the draft and late free agency have given us a clearer picture of which veterans might find themselves fighting for their roster lives this summer. Here are five to keep an eye on.

RB Brian Hill

The writing is more or less on the wall for Hill, who probably needs to snag the fullback job to stand a chance of sticking. The Falcons drafted Qadree Ollison for his size, physicality, blocking skills, and straight line burst, and those are more or less the same boxes Hill ticked when the Falcons drafted him in the fifth round a couple of years ago. With a new offensive coordinator in town, Ollison is clearly intended to be Hill’s replacement and the #3 back at worst. That doesn’t leave Hill much of a chance.

TE Logan Paulsen

Some will argue for Eric Saubert’s inclusion here, but that doesn’t feel particularly sensible to me. Saubert is still young, still has some upside, and came on as a blocker late in the year, making him a solid third option at worst.

Paulsen had a fine year for Atlanta in 2018, but the team already signed Luke Stocker, who also blocks well, is arguably a more productive receiving option, has a little positional flexibility as a dabbler at fullback, and has played under both Dirk Koetter and Mike Mularkey. Austin Hooper is obviously locked in as the starter and Alex Gray and Jaeden Graham are still lurking as young players who have been marinating on the practice squad, so it doesn’t feel like Paulsen’s chances of sticking around are that great unless this team has really given up on Saubert.

G Wes Schweitzer

I wouldn’t assume that Schweitzer is a mortal lock for a roster spot, even with Brandon Fusco gone. The Falcons have been curiously (some would argue ridiculously) against the idea of Schweitzer starting, trying to supplant him again and again with players like Fusco and now James Carpenter, Jamon Brown, and Chris Lindstrom. Schweitzer has shown himself to be at worst a passable starting option, but the Falcons just bulked up in a serious way at guard, might find low-price veterans out on the wire later on, and could roll on with Adam Gettis or Sean Harlow as their fourth option to save money. Schweitzer, remember, is in the final year of his deal and could be cut for about $2 million in cap savings.

I don’t think you can argue that he should be cut on merit, but roster construction and cap savings could still see him shoved off.

DT Ra’Shede Hageman

Hageman was going to be on the bubble regardless of what happened in the draft, given how crowded the position is, but he figured to have a leg up on the likes of Mike Bennett, Justin Zimmer, and so forth. With the addition of John Cominsky, who the team envisions as an inside-out player early on, Hageman may very well be pushed off relatively early. This team has Grady Jarrett, Tyeler Davison, Deadrin Senat, Jack Crawford, Takk McKinley, Vic Beasley, Adrian Clayborn, Steven Means and now Cominsky pretty well locked in, so Hageman would have to either push hard to be the 10th DL or push his way past Crawford or Davison, which feels unlikely.

S Sharrod Neasman

File this one in the hope I’m wrong folder for later use, because I cannot for the life of me understand why the Falcons would want to replace Neasman. After he re-joined the Falcons in 2018, he went on to play in 12 games and stabilize the strong safety position, largely taking over for Jordan Richards and playing very well down the stretch. He’s extremely affordable, proven, and a useful special teamer, so there’s no real reason why he shouldn’t be on this team in 2019.

Yet the Falcons have, through their draft and free agency moves, signaled that he might not be. J.J. Wilcox was adding to compete for the backup strong safety job, and while he may not actually be a more well-rounded player than Neasman, he brings nasty physicality to a team that seems to be craving it. Free agent additions Afolabi Laguda and Chris Cooper are both plus athletes the team will give a genuine shot too, with Cooper in particular having a potential role due to his ability to play some cornerback. And then there’s the small matter of the team drafting not one but two cornerbacks, which might be part of an effort to have Damontae Kazee spend more time at safety where he excelled a year ago.

All of that adds up to a bumpy road for Neasman. He should be able to fend off these guys in a fair fight and I’m hopeful he makes the roster, but I’m no longer 100% confident in that outcome.