The Falcons currently have 13 wide receivers on the roster. We all know they’ll cut that number down to five or six before the regular season begins, but it’s a pretty incredible number, especially after the team began the offseason with so few options.
Why is that? Tori McElhaney got Arthur Smith’s thoughts on the state of the receiver group and it was illuminating, but more intriguingly for our purposes, it appears the wide receivers and tight ends the team sheds in the coming weeks may well open up spots for additions to the offensive and defensive lines.
Let’s start with the rationale for having so many receivers, and though it’s not mentioned in the article, likely cornerbacks as well. Allowing for the fact that some of the players listed as corners or just defensive backs on the roster may dabble at safety, the Falcons currently have 12 corners on the roster, meaning well over a quarter of the 90 man is currently filled up by receivers and corners.
“At this time of year because we don’t have to line up and play a real game you may go heavy (at receiver),” Smith said. “It’s an extended two- to three-week trial for certain guys at certain skill positions.”
As McElhaney writes, this is a chance for the team to see how receivers are picking up the scheme, developing chemistry with Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder, and running routes against this team’s huge stable of defensive backs. It’s also an opportunity for those defensive backs to show their coverage chops. If the Falcons can determine who deserves a longer look this summer and who might not be sticking around, they’ll be able to free up space for additions in the trenches.
Smith said the plan would be to start cutting skill positions and bringing in offensive and defensive linemen prior to training camp in August.
Before training camp begins, then, it’s probably fair to expect a receiving corps that features 10 or fewer players, with a couple of additions to the lines to come. That makes this a crucial time the crowded cornerback depth chart, and especially those receivers and tight ends jockeying for limited spots deep into the summer. That competition is a good thing, and for those of us worried about the state of the competition along both lines, the fact that the team is all but promising to make additions before August is welcome news indeed.