The 2021 NFL season is drawing near, as the 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame game kicked things off last weekend, and now NFL teams prepare for their first games which will occur towards the end of this week.
The Atlanta Falcons are set to host the Tennessee Titans on Friday, August 13 in a matchup which pits new head coach Arthur Smith against his old team. Additionally, it will be the “return” of Julio Jones, but he is not expected to play.
Outside of all of that and the intrigue of the matchup, the Falcons released their first depth chart of the 2021 season on Tuesday afternoon, providing us with some interesting nuggets. It’s worth noting that depth charts right now shouldn’t be taken too seriously, as rookies are listed lower than they are likely to be when the season opens and much change and will change in the next couple of weeks.
QB: Matt Ryan, AJ McCarron, Feleipe Franks
RB: Mike Davis, Cordarrelle Patterson, Keith Smith, Qadree Ollison, D’Onta Foreman, Caleb Huntley, Javian Hawkins
WR: Calvin Ridley, Christian Blake, Chris Rowland, Juwan Green, J’Mon Moore, Antonio Nunn
WR: Russell Gage, Olamide Zaccheaus, Tajae Sharpe, Trevor Davis, Frank Darby, Austin Trammell
TE: Hayden Hurst, Kyle Pitts, John Raine
TE: Lee Smith, Parker Hesse, Ryan Becker
LT: Jake Matthews, Jason Spriggs, William Sweet, Kion Smith
LG: Josh Andrews, Sam Jones, Ryan Neuzil
C: Matt Hennessy, Drew Dalman, Joe Sculthorpe
RG: Chris Lindstrom, Willie Wright, Bryce Hargrove
RT: Willie Beavers, Kaleb McGary, Jalen Mayfield
DL: Grady Jarrett, Marlon Davidson, Ta’Quon Graham
DL: Tyeler Davison, Chris Slayton, John Atkins, Olive Sagapolu
DL: Jonathan Bullard, John Cominsky, Zac Dawe
OLB: Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, Brandon Copeland, Shareef Miller, Adetokunbo Ogundeji
LB: Deion Jones, Mykal Walker, Dorian Etheridge
LB: Foyesade Oluokun, Emmanuel Ellerbee, Erroll Thompson
OLB: Steven Means, Dante Fowler Jr., Tuzar Skipper, George Obinna, Kobe Jones
CB: A.J. Terrell, Chris Williamson, Kendall Sheffield, Marcus Murphy
CB: Fabian Moreau, Isaiah Oliver, Delrick Abrams Jr., Darren Hall, Avery Williams
S: Erik Harris, T.J. Green, Richie Grant
S: Duron Harmon, Jaylinn Hawkins, JR Pace, Dwayne Johnson
K: Younghoe Koo, Cameron Nizialek
P: Cameron Nizialek, Dom Maggio
LS: Josh Harris, Jake Matthews
H: Cameron Nizialek, Dom Maggio
PR: Chris Rowland, Avery Williams
KOR: Cordarrelle Patterson, Chris Rowland
As mentioned above, don’t get too up-in-arms about this. As seasoned fans know, this depth chart will change several times before the Falcons host the Philadelphia Eagles in week 1. It’s also worth mentioning that the team notes that two position groups have players occupying the same spot on the depth chart, meaning no player is in front of the other in these instances. Javian Hawkins and Caleb Huntley are on equal footing. So are safeties JR Pace and Dwayne Johnson.
The only positions we can definitely pencil the starters in is it at quarterback, wide receiver, kicker, long snapper and a few others. Cameron Nizialek, who was recently signed with Sterling Hofrichter reverting to the teams injured reserve list, appears to have the leg up on Dom Maggio for the punter job, but preseason will help the team decide that.
What else is worth noting? Certainly that Willie Beavers is listed ahead of Kaleb McGary who returned from the physically unable to perform list on Monday, with rookie Jalen Mayfield behind him. Beavers and Josh Andrews at left guard would appear to have a leg up on starting jobs, but particularly for Beavers, he’ll have to fend off a healthy McGary once he gets there.
Considering Kyle Pitts is listed as a backup, though, that’s further proof that we shouldn’t get too upset with the depth chart. The rookies are generally buried across the board here, likely as part of Arthur Smith’s push to make them earn their spots on the depth chart.
We’ll see how the lineup shakes up this Friday, as the Titans face the Falcons at 7 p.m.