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.
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.
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.
2021: Keith Smith
2022: Keith Smith
Disposition: No change
Analysis: No change
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.
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.
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.
2021: Josh Andrews, Sam Jones, Ryan Neuzil
2022: Jalen Mayfield, Rashaad Coward, Justin Shaffer
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
2021: Grady Jarrett, Marlon Davidson, Ta'Quan Graham
2022: Grady Jarrett, Marlon Davidson, Derrick Tangelo
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.
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.
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.
2021: Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, Brandon Copeland, Shareef Miller, Adetokunbo Ogundeji
2022: Arnold Ebiketie, Adetokunbo Ogundeji, Quentin Bell, Kuony Deng