Training camp is a mere two weeks away, which is awesome because all of us here at The Falcoholic are quickly running out of dead zone content ideas. Luckily, Falcons fans on Twitter were nice enough to provide me with some pretty relevant data via a poll. The question: Which position group are you most worried about heading into training camp?
It probably won’t shock you to hear that, in a landslide, Falcons fans are most worried about the state of the EDGE group.
#Falcons fam, what position group are you most nervous about heading into training camp?— Kevin Knight (@FalcoholicKevin) June 28, 2019
Atlanta is heading into camp with a thin group on the edge, particularly with the injury to Steven Means. Let’s take a quick look at who is currently under contract:
The team clearly has a lot of faith in Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley to be the top two guys. That faith is warranted for McKinley, who led the team in sacks with 7.0 and had an exceptional pressure rate in 2018. With Vic Beasley, who the team gave a $12.8M fifth-year option, it’s much murkier—since a breakout 2016 with 15.5 sacks, Beasley has failed to make much of an impact and has struggled mightily as a tackler.
Behind them, Atlanta re-signed the dependable and versatile Adrian Clayborn—who had his best season ever under Dan Quinn in 2017. But after him, there’s nothing but question marks. John Cominsky, one of the Falcons’ fourth-round picks in 2019, is a great athlete but is extremely raw. Chris Odom impressed during the 2017 preseason before having a standout 2018 season in the AAF, but otherwise hasn’t been able to stick on an NFL roster. Durrant Miles is a promising UDFA who shouldn’t be counted on for anything outside of developmental depth. Recent signee Austin Larkin is a raw player who was apparently turning heads at the Dallas Cowboys’ training camp in 2018. Otherwise, Larkin is a total question mark.
DT is, in my opinion, much stronger than EDGE. Grady Jarrett is awesome and Jack Crawford is a very good pass rusher, and they’ve got quality depth with Deadrin Senat in his second year, a proven run-stuffer in FA addition Tyeler Davison, and several intriguing camp competitors (Justin Zimmer, Ra’Shede Hageman, Michael Bennett). This position has plenty of depth, but the top-end talent outside of Jarrett could be lacking.
Some fans are understandably also worried about the RB depth behind Freeman. If Freeman is unable to stay healthy again in 2019, that thrusts second-year player Ito Smith into the spotlight along with rookie Qadree Ollison. Can the two of them carry the load behind what should be an improved OL? Possibly, but neither has any proven NFL production to their name.
The most common “other” response was CB, with fans concerned about the lack of veteran depth behind the starting trio of Desmond Trufant, Isaiah Oliver, and Damontae Kazee. The Falcons do have the dependable Blidi Wreh-Wilson—who has always been solid when called upon—to pair with two high-upside rookies in Kendall Sheffield and Jordan Miller. But they’re otherwise left with two second-year players in Ryan Neal and Taveze Calhoun to go along with their UDFA haul of Rashard Causey and WR-convert Jayson Stanley.
What position group are you most worried about heading into training camp? Share your thoughts in the comments below.