A strong 53 man roster has been assembled, one with only a small handful of surprises and legitimate weak spots to this jaded eye. While I’m largely a fan of the roster—a couple notes in that vein coming tomorrow—we still have yet to see an important piece of this team come together, and that’s the newly expanded 16 man practice squad.
That will change in the coming days, potentially as soon as today. The Falcons can begin adding to the practice squad at 1 p.m., carrying up to 16 players. Six of those players can have any level of experience, but only six at a given time, meaning the Falcons can stock up a bit on veteran depth in a way they would not have been able to in the past. That likely influenced some of their decisions this weekend, including the cut of safety J.J. Wilcox, who will have cleared waivers by 1 p.m. if they want him back.
What should you expect for the Falcons practice squad? I took a guess here, some of which is likely defunct given how cuts unfolded. You’ll want to look for a 3rd (and perhaps) 4th quarterback, a backup punter, and depth across every major position group except maybe running back, which feels pretty well stacked at the moment. Hopefully, we’ll know soon enough.
WR Juwan Green
TE Jared Pinkney
OL Sean Harlow
DE Austin Edwards
LB Edmond Robinson
CB Delrick Abrams Jr.
CB Tyler Hall
CB Josh Hawkins
S Jamal Carter
The Falcons will indeed carry two practice squad quarterbacks, which is a good move for this year. Benkert has a live arm and plenty of experience with the Falcons at this point, while Lauletta has the draft pedigree and could develop into a solid passer for Atlanta with time.
Rowland will be the first man up for the returner gig if Brandon Powell falters and could have a future as a receiver for Atlanta. Juwan Green is a speedy receiver with upside who will develop this year alongside Rowland.
Pinkney is a hyper-intriguing tight end prospect with athleticism and quality hands who was absolutely destroyed by poor quarterback play during his final year at Vanderbilt. He could be a factor on this roster in 2021 if he develops nicely.
Willie Wright is a new addition as interior offensive line depth, and is the only name on this list that the team has yet to confirm. He’s joined by Harlow, who will remain as interior depth at guard and center, and possibly John Wetzel, who was just released and will need to clear waivers. Shortly after the last update, the Falcons also added Wetzel, who is likely the first man up if there’s an injury at tackle.
Edwards was an expected addition as an impressive defensive end this summer for Atlanta, and may benefit from the fact that not many defensive end options on this roster today will necessarily be here in 2020. Robinson is ideal depth as a physical linebacker with some experience on NFL practice squads under his belt.
Then there’s the secondary, where the Falcons are stockpiling depth. Hall and Abrams are 2020 UDFAs with upside, with Hall in particular a name to watch given his strong college career. Hawkins is a little bit more of a veteran player the Falcons clearly liked and will likely be the first man up if the team needs cornerback depth. Carter is a strong special teamer and physical safety who can fill in if the team has injuries at the position.
Finally, Nizialek will be on the practice squad in case the Falcons are without Younghoe Koo or Sterling Hofrichter for any length of time and need a specialist.