The Falcons have set their defensive line for 2020 for better or worse. There are changes, most notably by replacing 2015’s second-highest drafted pass rusher with 2015’s highest drafted pass rusher. Getting rid of Vic Beasley may be addition by subtraction, but the Falcons have added Dante Fowler and rookie Marlon Davidson.
Typically, the team has kept 9 defensive lineman at the start of the season (or 8 in 2017 when they called Beasley a linebacker). The expanded rosters may allow Dan Quinn and Co. the option of pulling up a practice squad lineman each week, but realistically the team will have 9 DL who make the roster after preseason.
Atlanta currently has the following players vying for a spot:
- Allen Bailey
- John Cominsky
- Austin Edwards
- Dante Fowler
- Charles Harris
- Austin Larkin
- Takkarist McKinley
- Steven Means
- Bryson Young
- Hinwa Allieu
- Marlon Davidson
- Tyeler Davison
- Grady Jarrett
- Sailosi Latu
- Deadrin Senat
- Jacob Tuioti-Mariner
As you can tell, that is a lot more than 9 players. Odds are, the team has to cut 7 of these defenders. Time to look at who will make it.
The first thing to do is find the roster guarantees.
The dudes going nowhere
This part requires zero analysis. Allen Bailey, John Cominsky, Dante Fowler, Marlon Davidson, Tyeler Davison, and Grady Jarrett are all locks. These are either rookies, highly-praised sophomores, players who just got multi-million dollar deals or extensions, and also Pro Bowler Grady Jarrett. There is almost no situation where any of these players get cut before the season.
That is 2/3rds of the final roster. While Bailey and Davison are not on huge deals, the Falcons did spend very limit dollars on bringing them back to Atlanta. Cominsky is the only one who could possibly fall flat in camp and find himself on the outside looking in.
There are no guarantees
This is a tough group to be in. These linemen are fighting for 3 spots and hoping no one sneaks into the back of the roster. The way I see it, Takkarist McKinley, Charles Harris, Steven Means, Deadrin Senat, and Austin Larkin can challenge for a roster spot but can just as easily flame out. Some may be closer to locking up a roster spot while some are closer to not, but the overall sum up is these players have received snaps and some interest from the coaching staff, but none have definitively earned their way onto the roster.
On the outside looking in
This is far from a death sentence considering the players ahead of them, but Austin Edwards, Bryson Young, Hinwa Allieu, Sailosi Latu, and Jacob Tuioti-Mariner have some tough sledding to playing on game day. We have seen enough of this coaching staff to know that they need great camps to gain the edge over those the team has more heavily invested.
My random guess
Predicting zero injuries, I expect Means, Senat, Larkin, Young, Allieu, Latu, and Tuioti-Mariner to get cut without big camps. The Falcons have suggested Cominsky will push inside, giving them four interior lineman. We have been perplexed by Senat’s usage in 2019, but it means he should be practice squad eligible in 2020. My random guess is he returns at the “flex” spot from the practice squad to the active roster on game days.