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Competition will define the summer for the Falcons WR group

Atlanta hasn’t gone from decimated to great, but they’ve at least given themselves options.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons Training Camp Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

I think the idea that the Falcons have one of the absolute bottom of the barrel rosters in the NFL is a bit overblown. This is not a particularly good football team on paper, but seeing them fall from 29 to 31 in ESPN’s latest NFL power rankings after a successful draft and a handful of useful, low-key additions is a little surprising. That said, this Falcons team is going to be reliant on a number of things breaking their way this year if they’re going to avoid being one of the ten or so worst teams in the league, given a tough schedule and very real roster limitations.

One of those limitations figured to be the wide receiver position, where Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage exited the picture this offseason without clear replacements. Kyle Pitts and Cordarrelle Patterson are compelling options who will line up out wide, so even if the Falcons had essentially left the group alone, it wouldn’t have been as dismal as it looked on paper in late March. The addition of Drake London is justifiably the headliner for the offseason makeover at the receiver position, but beyond the rookie it’s striking just how much the Falcons have done to add competition for this summer.

They added speed and experience with Damiere Byrd. They re-added speed and special teams value with Olamide Zaccheaus, and just straight up special teams value with gunner and veteran receiver KhaDarel Hodge. They added some size and upside with the really intriguing Bryan Edwards, as well as Auden Tate and Geronimo Allison. Even the undrafted free agents in this group are interesting, with Tyshaun James in particular offering real potential this summer. It’s not a group with stratospheric upside beyond London—and we should set our expectations for his rookie season a little bit below future Hall of Famer, probably—but it’s a hell of a lot better and deeper than it was a couple of months ago. None of these players should be walking unchallenged into jobs, which is an ideal situation when you don’t have multiple high-end starters lined up.

I wrote above that Atlanta’s going to need a few things to break their way in 2022 to make any real noise in the NFC South, to say nothing of the larger NFC. The Falcons can’t count on multiple big breakouts in this receiver group, but they’ve added enough interesting options to give them a shot at building a worthwhile group thanks to fierce competition for spots this summer. When you’re in the middle of whatever we’re calling this on-the-fly budget re-tooling of the roster, that’s one of the better paths to making your own breaks.