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First Falcons depth chart of the 2020 season is full of surprises

The base defense has some interesting wrinkles to it.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons-Training Camp Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL 2020 season is underway and the Atlanta Falcons have released their first depth chart of the year and it is ... interesting. The normal names are where you would expect them to be - Matt Ryan is still the starting QB and Grady Jarrett is the man in the middle of the defense. That said, there are some very interesting wrinkles here that could have implications for what this season will look like.


First, on offense, the listed starters are:

QB - Matt Ryan

WR - Julio Jones

WR - Calvin Ridley

WR - Russell Gage

TE - Hayden Hurst

RB - Todd Gurley (with FB Keith Smith)

LT - Jake Matthews

LG - James Carpenter

C - Alex Mack

RG - Chris Lindstrom

RT - Kaleb McGary

What’s most interesting here is that Russell Gage is listed as a starter. Normally, teams list two receivers as starters with the fullback taking the 11th spot. This may be a new trend, but it definitely points to WR3 being an important enough role as to be listed as a starter.

Additionally, early reports were that Matt Hennessy had “won” the starting gig at left guard. While that could certainly change between now and Sunday, the veteran Carpenter is currently being listed as the starter. That may just be the case until Hennessy is healthy, but it’s worth monitoring what Dan Quinn says about it this week.


Now, for the defense:

DE - Takk McKinley

DT - Grady Jarrett

DT - Tyeler Davison

DE - Dante Fowler Jr.

LB - Deion Jones

LB - Foye Oluokun

CB - A.J. Terrell

CB - Isaiah Oliver

S - Ricardo Allen

S - Keanu Neal

S - Damontae Kazee

This is where things get really interesting. For all the talk about Mykal Walker being a “starter” this year, it sure looks like the team is going to deploy an interesting 2 linebacker, 3 safety look as their “base” defense. We’ll have a deeper analysis about this alignment coming in the next day or so, but this is a definite change from the norm. Walker should see some playing time, but it definitely looks like the coaches are leaning towards experience out of the gate.

Additionally, Oliver beat out Sheffield for the starting outside cornerback job, but Sheffield will be waiting in the wings if that doesn’t work out.

Special Teams

And last but not least, special teams:

K - Younghoe Koo

P - Sterling Hofrichter

LS - Josh Harris

KR - Olamide Zaccheaus

PR - Brandon Powell

The divide in the kick and punt return duties between Zaccheaus and Powell is an interesting one. Otherwise, there are no jarring alignments here. It’s nice to see Zaccheaus taking on a special teams role given his legitimate speed and upside.

What are your thoughts on the first depth chart for the 2020 Falcons?