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Who will be the biggest surprise Falcons cut and keeper?

The answer is not always Deadrin Senat, but often it is.

Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With cuts looming, it’s time to talk about the biggest surprises ahead, whether they be cuts or Falcons who ultimately make the roster. To try to forecast that, we turned things over to our writer roundtable, who invoked the name Deadrin Senat multiple times for both sides of the equation.

Biggest surprise cut: Deadrin Senat

Biggest surprise keeper: Mikey Daniel

This one pains me, but the writing has been on the wall over the past couple of years. Senat looked like a player the team was excited about developing. Someone who could eventually grow into a starting role alongside Grady Jarrett. Instead, all we’ve seen is Deadrin fall behind guys like Jacob Tuioti-Mariner in camp even as rookie Marlon Davidson has been injured.

Daniel is one of those guys that the coaching staff loves. He’s versatile - playing half back and fullback - and he’s a great special teams player. It may seem insane for the team to keep two fullbacks on the roster, but this is a player I think the staff will want for the long-term. A practice squad spot seems incredibly likely, but I believe there’s an outside shot he makes the 53.

- David Walker

Biggest surprise cut: Charles Harris

Biggest surprise keeper: Deadrin Senat

I’m going out on a limb here based on recent reports and projections from people I like and respect, so if I’m wrong I’m not going to freak out.

Harris just hasn’t been a standout thus far in camp by basically every account I’ve seen, so the Falcons may just accept the sunk cost and cut ties with him. If he clears waivers, perhaps they’ll get him back on the practice squad or as a later addition, but I think there’s a real chance he does not make the roster.

Senat, meanwhile, makes it because Marlon Davidson’s availability the first few weeks might be shaky, and the Falcons could use another big run stuffer on the line while he’s easing his way back in. If this happens, it may be Senat’s last chance to prove he belongs in Atlanta.

Dave Choate

Biggest surprise cut: Deadrin Senat

Biggest surprise keeper: Chris Rowland

It feels like Senat never really got a fair shake in Atlanta since coming in as a third round selection in the 2018 Draft. Constantly seen on the sidelines in street clothes as a healthy scratch the past few seasons, it seems as if this will be the end of the line for the USF man as it looks like Jacob Tuioti-Mariner has surpassed him on the depth chart.

Rowland was brought in as an undrafted free agent, standing in at all of 5 feet 8 inches and weighing 180 pounds soaking wet. Players with those measures don’t fit the profile of guys who find a spot on the 53-man roster, but Rowland has carved out his niche as return specialist. All counts suggest that he’ll go into the season as Atlanta’s primary punt returner and default WR6 as a result.

- Adnan Ikic

Biggest surprise cut: Qadree Ollison

Biggest surprise keeper: Deone Bucannon

The Falcons have seemingly never known what they are doing at running back, and drafting Ollison while they have a slew of other backs sure seems like that problem is persisting. We expected Ollison to be a goal-line back, which appears true: He had 4 touchdowns on only 23 (!) rookie touches. That makes sense when you have an undersized back like Devonta Freeman. Todd Gurley ain’t Freeman. Ollison, if he could get an active nod, is probably stuck only on special teams. Watch the Falcons try to move him to the bigger practice squad to be brought up in case of injury.

Bucannon was a first-round pick back in 2014 when he made the PFWA All-Rookie Team. Things have only been downhill since then. Despite being a “name” player, he has averaged 7 games in the last two seasons and racked up only 16 total sacks in that time. He is not good. With Mykal Walker reportedly showing out in camp, the Falcons will still need another veteran for depth. The biggest surprise would be keeping Bucannon over LaRaoy Reynolds.

- Matt Chambers

Biggest surprise cut: Laquon Treadwell

Biggest surprise keeper: Deadrin Senat

I am a true believer in a football player finding his path in a different setting within the NFL. Especially when said player failed to meet expectations given to him once he entered the league. That same plot fit Treadwell once he was signed by the Falcons this offseason. The former first rounder was disappointing in Minnesota but I felt playing alongside Julio Jones would have given him the rejuvenation he needed. So far in training camp, that has not been the case and Treadwell is currently on the bubble according to some.

Many are counting Mr. Senat out in this scenario also. Me, i’m taking a different approach. Releasing Senat would leave the Falcons with just three true defensive tackles with one of them being a true nose. Depth is pretty thin in that area even with Senat in the equation. The Senat saga in Atlanta has been a puzzling one. But I don’t believe it comes to an end this offseason.

Eric Robinson

Biggest surprise cut: Deadrin Senat

Biggest surprise keeper: Kurt Benkert

The writing was on the wall for Senat starting last season, when the Falcons kept him as a gameday inactive even after multiple DT injuries struck. In hindsight, the pick didn’t make a lot of sense for Atlanta given that they value athleticism above all else and Senat tested extremely poorly at the Combine. I think the team plans to stash the big and athletic UDFA Sailosi Latu and former UDFA Jacob Tuioti-Mariner on the practice squad for depth—neither is particularly likely to be poached.

In terms of surprise keepers, I don’t count UDFA WR Chris Rowland—I’d be more surprised if he wasn’t kept after so clearly winning the returner battle in camp. So instead I’ll go with QB Kurt Benkert, who finally makes the roster after two seasons on the practice squad/IR. That doesn’t mean Matt Schaub is out the door, however—I think the Falcons will be keeping 3 QBs on the 53-man roster for the first time under Dan Quinn. With all the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and the reality that Schaub’s career is probably coming to an end in the very near future, the time is now to commit to Benkert as the long-term backup.

— Kevin Knight