What happens in May doesn’t always carry over to July, and especially not to September. That’s why the temptation to get carried away with your appreciation for a particular player is not usually rewarded.
Bear that in mind while I ask you to get invested in a couple of players who may or may not actually make the roster this summer. Let’s hear it from The Athletic’s Jason Butt.
A DB to keep an eye on this offseason is Chris Cooper. With Ricardo Allen still rehabbing, Cooper was spotted rotating with Sharrod Neasman at FS. Cooper looked fast and instinctive out there today.— Jason Butt (@JasonHButt) May 30, 2019
With Deion Jones training off site, Jermaine Grace was able to get more first-team work today. Very fast at the position. Could be worth keeping an eye on as the offseason continues.— Jason Butt (@JasonHButt) May 30, 2019
Both of these players are legitimately interesting. Grace has already spent some time in Atlanta and returns for another shot at a linebacker group with question marks beyond the top three. Kemal Ishmael is an invaluable special teamer and Duke Riley carved out a role there last year, while Bruce Carter brings some veteran physicality and Tre’ Crawford looks promising in the early going as a rookie. Grace has 12 career games under his belt, wholly on special teams, and that interesting speed and the special teams acumen ought to earn him a real look later this summer. That’s especially true with Ben Kotwica in town, which means some of Keith Armstrong’s favorites like Ishmael probably aren’t the virtual locks they would’ve been in past years.
Cooper brings less experience and less familiarity with the Falcons, but that same kind of intriguing speed to a safety position that is largely the wild wild west behind Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal. Cooper’s likely competing with the likes of J.J. Wilcox, Sharrod Neasman, and Afolabi Laguda for a couple of spots, and with Allen and Neal being brought along at the appropriate speed, I wouldn’t expect Cooper to lack for opportunities this summer. Wilcox profiles as a one year solution as Neal’s direct backup, but Cooper’s affordable two year deal and relative youth might mean he could settle in as a long-term backup.
Keep an eye on both of these guys and see if the hype grows or things die down once the pads go on.