As is always the case with any draft for every team, some players on the roster emerge as big winners who have their lives made easier by the addition of a new rookie, and some suddenly get thrown into fierce competition with a younger player gunning for his job/playing time.
Let’s take a look at some of the winners and losers from Atlanta’s roster from this past weekend.
Winner - Grady Jarrett
The Falcons have finally given Grady Jarrett some help along the defensive line in the form of Marlon Davidson. Davidson is versatile enough to play either at defensive end or defensive tackle, but Dan Quinn has already announced that they’ll try to feature him at DT.
Davidson was a First-Team All-SEC selection in 2019, and he had the kind of year that stood tall even alongside Derrick Brown (who went 8th overall in the draft) — each of them had 12.5 Tackles For Loss, while Davidson had 7.0 sacks (in comparison to Brown’s 4.0).
Davidson represents the most talented DT Jarrett will have alongside him since Dontari Poe in 2017. It’ll be a lot more difficult for opposing team’s to double Jarrett without paying the price. Takk McKinley and Dante Fowler, who will be coming off the edge, are also winners by extension.
Loser - James Carpenter
We went into the draft with the idea that Carpenter would be the odds on favorite to win the starting left guard job in 2020. The selection of Matt Hennessy in the third round adds an added layer to that competition.
Hennessy is Atlanta’s long-term answer at the center position for life after Alex Mack, but in 2020 he will be firmly in the mix at left guard. I’m not saying that Carpenter can’t win this job outright, but the leash will be a lot shorter on him if he does go into Week 1 as the starter and struggles.
Dan Quinn, asked if he truly believes Matt Hennessy can compete for the starting LG spot: "Yes we do." #Falcons— William McFadden (@willmcfadden) April 25, 2020
With so much at stake for Dan Quinn in 2020, Carpenter won’t be handed the starting LG role simply because he was paid so handsomely last offseason; he’ll have to earn it. His days in Atlanta past this coming season look to be numbered, even if he wins the job.
Alex Mack’s days in Atlanta also look to be numbered, but with his contract expiring after this season that would’ve probably been the case whether the Falcons brought in Hennessy or not.
Winner - Matt Ryan
This is more of a long-term win for Matt Ryan than anything else. The Falcons addressed a key need at the center position moving forward, avoiding a potential Mike Person situation after Alex Mack’s days finish in Atlanta (I know that someone will mention the potential for a Peter Konz situation, but don’t you put that evil on me).
If Mack were to go down for any reason this coming season, Hennessy would step in as a capable center, avoiding the need for Sean Harlow and Justin McCray to step into the role and to possibly get Ryan killed.
If Hennessy can win the starting LG job outright and serve as an upgrade over what Carpenter, Wes Schweitzer, and Jamon Brown provided last year, it’ll be a immediate win as well.
Loser - Deadrin Senat
We haven’t gotten to see much of Senat since the Falcons took him in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft, and the addition of Marlin Davidson to the defensive tackle rotation will put up another roadblock to any possible playing time for the University of South Florida alum.
The Falcons already feature Tyeler Davison, who has carved out his niche as a run stopping specialist, alongside Jarrett, and now they add a capable pass rushing defensive tackle to the mix as well. Senat has now been thrust into a competition with the likes of Jacob Tuioti-Mariner just for the possibility to dress every Sunday.
Winners - Russell Gage, Olamide Zaccheaus
The Falcons weren’t going to select a wide receiver high in the draft with all of their defensive needs, but the fact that they didn’t address the position at all (when they could’ve grabbed someone like Donovan Peoples-Jones on Day 3) solidifies Gage as the team’s WR3 moving forward, and all but locks Zaccheaus into a roster spot.
The Falcons are placing their trust in these two guys behind Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. That’s a testament to years of personal hard work for Gage, who was selected in the sixth round in 2018 and thought of as nothing more than a Special Teams specialist, and Zaccheaus, who was an undrafted free agent who won a spot on the 53-man roster following an intense preseason WR competition last year.
Loser - Jamal Carter
Carter is a former practice squad standout who earned promotion onto the 53-man roster following Keanu Neal’s season ending injury in Week 3 last year. He appeared in 11 games and was Atlanta’s primary backup at strong safety going into the draft.
He’ll find himself fighting for a roster spot after the Falcons drafted Jaylinn Hawkins in the 4th round. Hawkins figures to be a contributor on Special Teams from day one, and he’s someone whom the Falcons invested a bit of draft capital in, giving him the inside track to Carter’s backup role.
Keanu Neal will likely return to the starting SS role with Hawkins backing him up. Another stint on the Practice Squad could be in Carter’s future. Of course, if he balls out in Training Camp and the Preseason, the Falcons may opt to carry both he and Hawkins on the roster.
Winners - Brian Hill, Ito Smith, Qadree Ollison
This is the same idea as with Gage and Zaccheaus, but at the running back position — because the Falcons didn’t address RB in the draft at, it looks like Hill, Smith, and Ollison’s roster spots will all be secured as they look to spell Todd Gurley in the 2020 season.
They’ll compete against one another to see who can carve out more playing time.
Loser - Ryan Allen
Just when it looked like Allen would comfortably go into the 2020 season with the inside track to winning the team’s Punter position, the Falcons placed him into a stiff competition when they selected Syracuse’s Sterling Hofrichter in the 7th Round.
Allen filled in admirably for the injured Matt Bosher in 2019, but he now has to contend with a 2019 Ray Guy Award finalist, and someone who has the versatility to kick field goals when the situation calls for it. Allen himself is a former two-time Ray Guy Award winner, but young legs, versatility, and a cheaper contract to pay gives Hofrichter the edge in this competition.