The Atlanta Falcons are about to enter a new phase in the offseason process, one where a big infusion of new talent at all levels — free agency, the draft, the undrafted free agent pooling — has largely been solidified.
While many of us feel pretty reassured about where the team is now as opposed to two months ago, it’s still fair to look around at what is and isn’t on the roster and see where holes still may be open for more talent. Safety, for example, looks much better now after some additions, but other spots don’t look quite as set.
Let’s examine what relative roster holes are there for the Falcons with summer looming.
While the Falcons haven’t at all ignored this position, that left guard spot still looks a bit vacant of an obvious contender. Third-round draft pick Jalen Mayfield, swing tackle Matt Gono and free agent Josh Andrews look to be your three-man competition for the spot, but it’s entirely possible the team wants Mayfield to grow into a starting role over time and doesn’t feel Gono or Andrews is quite up to the task. Gono is the front runner at the moment, I would think, so the team’s comfort level will likely depend on how his and Mayfield’s summers go.
You could see the team want to continue to add to this spot later in the summer. Center looks less worrisome with Matt Hennessy and 2021 draft pick Drew Dalman likely to enter competition, but if neither quite pans out to the team’s liking right now, don’t discount a move there, either.
The Falcons have plenty of options on the defensive line, but it’s still a bit of a dicey proposition right now as to who exactly will consistently rush the passer. 2020 free agent Dante Fowler, Jr., reliable veteran Steven Means, former NFC Defensive Player of the Week Jacob Tuioti-Mariner and free agents Barkevious Mingo and Brandon Copeland are your among your primary edge rushing options right now, which makes you think this spot could use an additional veteran who can get after the quarterback.
Most of the edge talent is either unproven or better utilized against the run. The team might have to get creative to rush the passer this season if they don’t add anyone else this summer. The team needs more juice.
The Falcons have added three cornerbacks since Terry Fontenot and Dean Pees came to town, with Washington Football Team alum Fabian Moreau and draft picks Darren Hall and Avery Williams. They also have incumbents Isaiah Oliver and Kendall Sheffield. The fact that A.J. Terrell is the only corner right now you feel good about being a guaranteed quality starter doesn’t sit well.
This group has options, but you’d feel a little better about the team’s cornerback group if there were a more battle-tested veteran to pair with Terrell. It’s not that the other guys can’t win that job—Oliver and Sheffield could benefit from a coaching staff change and Moreau is interesting—but an extra veteran option would make you like this group more on paper. The question is who the Falcons can afford.
What needs are you hoping the team prioritizes in the months ahead?