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2021 vs. 2022 Atlanta Falcons Depth Chart and Analysis

We are done with the draft and the bulk of free agency, so now is as good a time as ever to look at the depth chart. Considering Fontenot is always looking to bring on talent that we can afford, I figured we could try and compare what we have going into camp and preseason this year versus what we had last year. As I said, this is subject to change, but the way Fontenot builds a roster, that will not change regardless of when I decide to do this.

Offense:

QB:

2021: Matt Ryan, AJ McCarron, Felipe Franks

2022: Marcus Mariota, Desmond Ridder, Felipe Franks

Disposition: Upgrade in depth, downgrade in starter quality

Analysis: Matt Ryan as an individual was and is better than everyone on this chart. With that said the combination of Mariota and Ridder is better than what we had last year. Not to mention both of these players are a better scheme fit than Ryan was.

RB:

2021: Mike Davis, Cordarrell Patterson, Quadree Ollison, D'Onta Foreman, Caleb Huntley, Javian Hawkins

2022: Cordarrell Patterson, Damien Williams, Tyler Allegier, Ollison Quadree, Caleb Huntley

Disposition: Upgraded quality throughout, but most players still have a lot to prove.

Analysis: Patterson coming back was a no brainer. Behind him the depth seems to have more than one person who is capable of replicating what Davis did last season. There should be a quality timeshare between Allegier and Williams until one proves better than the other.

FB:

2021: Keith Smith

2022: Keith Smith

Disposition: No change

Analysis: No change

WR:

2021: Russell Gage, Olamide Zaccheaus, Tajae Sharpe, Travor Davis, Frank Darby, Austin Trammell

2022: Drake London, Bryan Edwards, Auden Tate, Olamide Zaccheaus, KhaDarel Hodge, Frank Darby, Geronimo Allison, Austin Trammell, Tyshaun James, Stanley Barryhill, Jared Bernhradt

Disposition: All around upgrade. More depth, talent, scheme fit, and potential.

Analysis: Bigger more talented players, who are a better scheme fit, and have a more complimentary skillset for the scheme Smith wants to run. London is better than Gage. Edwards is a better WR2 than Zaccheaus. Tate is a better scheme fit than Gage or Zaccheaus. I have big expectations for this group, that are not only receiving stats specific, but do include run blocking effectiveness and YAC.

TE:

2021: Kyle Pitts, Hayden Hurst, Lee Smith, Parker Heese, Ryan Becker

2022: Kyle Pitts, Anthony Firkser, John Fitzpatrick, Parker Heese, Daniel Helm, John Raine, Brayden Lenius, Leroy Watson

Disposition: More talent and more depth.

Analysis: Pitts obviously isn't going anywhere. Firkser is a draw for Hurst as a Y-type TE. Fitzpatrick is better than Heese, but Heese is a blocking TE while Pitzpatrick is a Y-type along with Firkser. I wouldn't be surprised if they kept four TE's for the final 53 man roster.

LT:

2021: Jake Matthews, Jason Spriggs, William Sweet, Kion Smith

2022: Jake Matthews, Elijah Wilkinson, Tyler Vrabel

Disposition: Upgraded depth

Analysis: Vrabel and Wilkinson are better than Spriggs, Sweet, or Smith. While Matthews is the guaranteed starter going into the season, the men behind him got slightly better.

LG:

2021: Josh Andrews, Sam Jones, Ryan Neuzil

2022: Jalen Mayfield, Rashaad Coward, Justin Shaffer

Disposition: Draw

Analysis: Andrews never saw the field and Mayfield was the starter throughout the season. While his play quality is justifiably questionable, there is hope for development. This position could become the achilles heel of the offense.

C:

2021: Matt Hennessy, Drew Dalman, Joe Sculthorpe

2022: Matt Hennessy, Drew Dalman

Disposition: Less depth but ultimately no change

Analysis: There is no expected change to this position. I do expect Dalman to give Hennessy a run for his money in camp and preseason though. Dalman may even give Mayfield some good competition as well.

RG:

2021: Chris Lindstrom, Willie Wright, Bryce Hargrove

2022: Chris Lindstrom, Drew Dalman, Ryan Neuzil

Disposition: Less depth but ultimately no change.

Analysis: Lindstrom is as guaranteed a starting role as Matthews is at this point. Dalman should be quality depth behind him though.

RT:

2021: Willie Beavers, Kaleb McGary, Jalen Mayfield

2022: Kaleb McGary, Germain Ifedi, Colby Gossett, Rick Leonard

Disposition: Upgrade in depth, but no change to the starter.

Analysis: I do not think Beavers was ever going to actually start, but McGary did beat him out by week one. Ifedi is more quality depth than what we have seen recently, if not by a small margin.

Overall Offense:

Disposition: Slight upgrade and better scheme fit for the HC to use.

Analysis: With a drop in talent at the QB position, but an overall better team in terms of depth and scheme fit, this offense may surprise people. The biggest issue is obviously the offensive line...once again. Hopefully with one more year in the same scheme, more development time for the young men along the line, and more talent and depth at the other skill positions we have a better chance at sustaining drives and scoring once in the redzone.

Defense:

RDE:

2021: Grady Jarrett, Marlon Davidson, Ta'Quan Graham

2022: Grady Jarrett, Marlon Davidson, Derrick Tangelo

Disposition: Draw

Analysis: I expect no immediate change to this position. Davidson may try to start opposite Jarrett at LDE, but he is most likely seen as interchangeable with Jarrett in that they can both play similar roles. They are both a 3-4 DE and 4-3 DT capable player.

LDE:

2021: Jonathan Bullard, John Cominsky, Zac Dowe

2022: John Cominsky, Nick Thurman, Bryce Rogers

Disposition: Draw, but hard to be conclusive with.

Analysis: While Bullard performed at and average to slightly below average level for the LDE position in a 3-4 front, Cominsky hasn't proven he can do any better. His inability to beat Bullard out last year for this position does not bode well for this position moving forward.

NT:

2021: Tyeler Davison, Chris Slayton, John Atkins, Olive Sagapolu

2022: Ta'Quan Graham, Vincent Taylor, Anthony Rush, Timmy Horne

Disposition: Draw but not conclusive

Analysis: The Falcons listing Graham as the starting NT is interesting considering he did not start any games last year, and Rush was definitely the full-time starter in odd fronts. Graham seems to be a better fit for a 3-4 DE, which I do expect to happen by game 1. I expect Graham to battle Cominsky for the starting LDE position and honestly I'm not sure who wins. With Rush being the obvious starter here, I see this position as no change, and the depth being a draw as well.

LOLB:

2021: Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, Brandon Copeland, Shareef Miller, Adetokunbo Ogundeji

2022: Arnold Ebiketie, Adetokunbo Ogundeji, Quentin Bell, Kuony Deng

Disposition: Solid upgrade

Analysis: Having both Ebiketie and Ogundeji is solid. They are both developmental, but should be an upgrade over what we took into the season last season. This position is all potential, but the raw talent is there.

LILB:

2021: Deion Jones, Mykal Walker, Dorian Etheridge

2022: Deion Jones, Mykal Walker, Nick Kwiatkoski, Rashad Smith

Disposition: Slight upgrade

Analysis: I fully expect Kwiatkoski to start at this position. I'm not sure Jones is on the roster going into game 1, but if he is I believe he is a high-end backup at this point and in this scheme. This position is the second deepest position we have on the roster. I see a decent upgrade in play quality throughout the season because of this.

RILB:

2021: Foyesade Oluokun, Emmanual Ellerbee, Erroll Thompson

2022: Rashaan Evans, Troy Anderson, Dorian Etheridge, Nate Landman

Disposition: Huge upgrade

Analysis: Evans and Anderson could both start. Oluokun was a solid player and did very well last year, but Evans has proven to be an equally talented player in Pees' system before, plus Anderson should push anyone and everyone in the ILB group for playing time. The ILB group as a whole is significantly upgraded.

ROLB:

2021: Steven Means, Dante Fowler Jr., Tuzar Skipper, George Obinna, Kobe Jones

2022: Lorenzo Carter, DeAngelo Malone, Jordan Brailford

Disposition: Large upgrade in starter and depth

Analysis: Carter is no less than an average ROLB in this scheme. Adding in Malone who is a developmental player, but can take early snaps in pass rushing specific situations and you have quality rotation that increases the pass rushing from the OLB's from last year by a large margin.

LCB:

2021: AJ Terrell, Chris Williamson, Kendall Sheffield, Marcus Murphy

2022: AJ Terrell, Isaiah Oliver, Darren Hall, Mike Ford

Disposition: Solid Upgrade in depth

Analysis: Behind Terrell is not one but two solid players. Oliver and Hall both showed good promise last year, and I expect this group to do good work in this upcoming year.

FS:

2021: Erik Harris, TJ Green, Richie Grant

2022: Erik Harris, Jaylinn Hawkins, Brad Hawkins

Disposition: Draw

Analysis: While I do feel like Harris performed well last year, I'm not sure he stays as the starting player at FS this year. Hawkins and Hawkins should push him for reps. This group is possibly slightly better than last year, but it would only be marginally better and I am considering it a draw in the end.

SS:

2021: Duron Harmon, Jaylinn Hawkins, JR Pace, Dwayne Johnson

2022: Dean Marlowe, Richie Grant, Teez Tabor

Disposition: Slight downgrade

Analysis: Harmon did well last year, and his departure left a starting role up for grabs. I see Grant ultimately getting the nod here. The safety backfield in general should be about the same as last year in terms of talent and results.


RCB:

2021: Fabian Moreau, Isaiah Oliver, Delrick Abrams Jr., Darren Hall, Avery Williams

2022: Casey Hayward, Avery Williams, Luther Kirk, Dee Alford

Disposition: Slight upgrade

Analysis: Hayward is a clear upgrade, even though Moreau performed admirably last year. Williams did well with limited snaps and should hold this spot for his special teams value if anything. The CB group overall is the best position group we have on this team and will be what this defense leans on in general.

Overall Defense:

Disposition: Upgraded pass rush and secondary

Analysis: The obvious weakness in this group is up front. If that group can be coached or schemed into a league average unit, then the rest of this defense should surprise the people who are expecting a 2 or 4 win season. I am not sold that this side of the football is going to be good enough to win games yet, but this group is an obvious upgrade with talent, and hopefully they can be put into positions to develop and succeed.


Overall Team:

Disposition: More talent but many large question marks remain.

Analysis: There is more talent here than there was in 2021. The trenches are still weak, but a lot outside of that is looking better. The biggest question mark is QB. If we didn't judge the abilities of either Mariota and Ridder well, then this is a lost season. If we got one of them right, we could do better than expected. The coaches will be scheming around the lack of talent up front, but the increase in talent everywhere else should help us do that more effectively. The biggest improvement is overall scheme fit. This team has been revamped with Arthur Smith's offense and Dean Pees defense in mind. I'm not sure this is exactly what they wanted with the personnel, but this should be in the ballpark of what they needed last year to be more successful. The looming schedule filled with quality opponents may hide some of the strides this team has taken, but in the end this team is better today than it was at the same time last year, which is an encouraging sign for fans.

<em>This FanPost was written by one of The Falcoholic's talented readers. It does not necessarily reflect the views of The Falcoholic.</em>