The Falcons entered this offseason with only one veteran wide receiver who was penciled in on the team’s depth chart. With back-to-back offseason losses of Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, the team was only able to bring along Olamide Zaccheaus. Everyone else will be a new face (or Frank Darby). That is a tough spot to be in with limited cap space and only minimal compensation from the losses of Matt Ryan (3rd round pick) and Calvin Ridley (suspended for 2022).
Despite that, Terry Fontenot did a nice job of replenishing the depth chart. Most notably, Fontenot made Drake London the first wide receiver off the board at 10th overall in the 2022 draft. Next, Fontenot traded a 5th round pick for Bryan Edwards, another oversized pass catcher who had 571 receiving yards in 2021. Auden Tate is even bigger than Edwards, but is coming off some injury-plagued seasons following a 575-yard 2019 season. Damiere Byrd looks like an undersized deep threat. Geronimo Allison, famously known as your desperation play in fantasy during a bad batch of bye weeks, had a decent stretch with the Green Bay Packers a few years back.
It may not be confused with some of the best in the league, but it is much improved from 2021 when Matt Ryan’s top three pass catchers were a tight end, a wide receiver, and a running back.
How that depth chart shakes out is not clear. While certain players (like Tate) were thought to be starters when signed, ESPN’s Michael Rothstein said there are only three roster locks.
Notably, Roethstein projects (admittedly early) that the Falcons will only keep five wide outs. That is certainly light, but the Falcons will have Kyle Pitts likely leading the team in targets, and Cordarrelle Patterson doing Cordarrelle Patterson things. Your WR6 would be unlikely to see more than a handful of targets, especially with the expected conservative, run-heavy offense ran by either Marcus Mariota or rookie Desmond Ridder.
Those locks may be based on compensation this season. The Falcons would certainly keep London, its first-round pick. It also gave up a fifth round pick for Edwards, meaning he should stick. Zaccheaus was tendered at the lowest level, but even so, spending $2.433 million is a lot for a team dealing with major cap problems.
After that, it is a free for all at wideout. Most notably, Rothstein projects former 6th round pick Frank Darby to not make the cut, but believes even some undrafted wide receivers could push for that fourth or fifth spot.
Regardless of who makes it, there will be a lot of new faces catching passes.