Yesterday, we talked surprise cuts. Today, we want to talk about players who would be surprising (or downright shocking) additions to the roster that we think are going to make it. You’ll find our staff’s choices below.
The Falcons aren’t hurting for wide receivers, with Julio Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Calvin Ridley set to get the overwhelming majority of receptions this year. Yet, the team always seems to bring in intriguing guys to training camp. This year, the name we kept hearing repeatedly was Olamide Zaccheaus. The wicked fast receiver has been competing for a spot on the practice squad, but I think he’s going to be a big surprise for the 53-man roster. Marcus Green has failed to secure the returner job while Olamide has stood out more as a true receiver. I’m not going to say he’s a lock for the roster, but he’s definitely on my “most surprising” list right now. - David Walker
He was on borrowed time after getting benched for sixth-round rookie Foye Oluokun. I expect the impressive Jermaine Grace to make the roster as well, but Duke Riley looks to have locked up the fifth linebacker spot. Granted, there’s not much competition at the spot, but Riley looked solid in limited playing time with the starters. He definitely will not be expected to start, but his preseason performance and draft status should lock him down for one more season in Atlanta. - Matt Chambers
Duke Riley has been the polar opposite of impressive in his first two seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. Injuries aside, Riley at times appears to be operating in The Upside Down in coverage, taking terrible routes to the football and struggling to secure a tackle when he’s in the same timezone as the ball carrier. It was like slugging back Ipecac syrup watching him play, but he seems to have turned a corner so far in the preseason. Foyesade Oluokun earned his way into Duke Riley’s spot last year, and as such, we had eyed Riley as a potential cut candidate heading into 2019. With his seeming growth under Dan Quinn’s defensive tutelage, Riley should now be favored to make the 53-man roster as a reserve linebacker. - Carter Breazeale
If you had suggested that Graham would make the practice squad back in, say, May, I would’ve been receptive. If you had suggested he would make the roster, the very same roster that was set to feature Austin Hooper, Luke Stocker, and some combination of Eric Saubert and Logan Paulsen, I would’ve been much less receptive. But with the trade of Saubert and Graham’s impressive play over the summer, it’s not a total shock that not only does it feel like he’ll make this roster, but that he’ll be the team’s most promising third tight end since the bloom came off Eric Saubert’s rose. It’s surprising he’s made enough of a mark so quickly he feels like a virtual shoo-in for a spot. - Dave Choate