Early look at Falcons' post-draft depth chart

May, 15, 2014
May 15
8:45
AM ET
There will be plenty of competition for the Atlanta Falcons when it comes to training camp this season. Such is a positive, considering the team's lack of depth last year.

Here's my opinion on how the depth chart could unfold. Again, these are just projections. (*Projections do not include undrafted rookies.)

Quarterback
  • Projected starter: Matt Ryan
  • Backup: Dominique Davis
  • Comment: As long as Ryan doesn't get hurt playing behind a revamped offensive line, the Falcons should be just fine. Wouldn't be a surprise if they add a veteran unless second-year player Sean Renfree or undrafted rookie Jeff Mathews make strong impressions.
Running back
Fullback
  • Projected starter: Patrick DiMarco
  • Backup: Bear Pascoe
  • Comment: DiMarco quietly did his job well last season and should get a chance clear some holes. Pascoe is a tight end first but has fullback ability.
Wide receiver
  • Projected starter: Julio Jones
  • Backups: Harry Douglas, Devin Hester
  • Comment: The entire season could depend on how Jones holds up coming off foot surgery. If he's back to his normal self, the Falcons could be dynamic offensively.
Wide receiver
  • Projected starter: Roddy White
  • Backup: Drew Davis
  • Other: Darius Johnson
  • Comment: Like Jones, White's health will be crucial to the team. He was never 100 percent last season, but he showed his old form near the end of 2013.
Tight end
  • Projected starter: Levine Toilolo
  • Backup: Bear Pascoe
  • Comment: Although the Falcons are talking about using more of a blocking tight end such as Pascoe, Toilolo will get his opportunities, particularly in the red zone.
Left tackle
  • Projected starter: Sam Baker
  • Backup: Ryan Schraeder
  • Comment: If Baker, coming off knee surgery, can regain his form from 2012, the Falcons might be pretty solid across the board up front.
Left Guard
  • Projected starter: Justin Blalock
  • Backup: Harland Gunn
  • Comment: Blalock was solid last season, although he admitted he should have spoken up more when things weren't going as anticipated.
Center
  • Projected starter: Joe Hawley
  • Backup: Peter Konz
  • Comment: Hawley showed some toughness last season, and his play should only improve with a better player to his right. Konz won't be counted upon for much.
Right Guard
  • Projected starter: Jon Asamoah
  • Backup: Gabe Carimi
  • Comment: The addition of Asamoah during free agency automatically brought more toughness and strength to a position that struggled miserably last season. Carimi might be just a camp body.
Right tackle
  • Projected starter: Jake Matthews
  • Backup: Lamar Holmes
  • Comment: The rookie Matthews is NFL-ready and his reputation for being technically sound should help him hold his own immediately. If Baker doesn't hold up, Matthews will be switched to the left side, which is why Holmes should take reps at right just in case.



DEFENSE

Left defensive end
Nose tackle
  • Projected starter: Paul Soliai
  • Backup: Corey Peters
  • Other: Hageman
  • Comment: Don't discount what type of impact Soliai could have just because his position is not so glamorous. The attention he eats up in front in the 3-4 base look will be critical to the defense's success.
Right defensive end
  • Projected starter: Jonathan Babineaux
  • Backup: Malliciah Goodman
  • Comment: Babineaux is a team leader and he was the most consistent performer along the defensive line last season. He should be fresher to make big plays if the rookie Hageman emerges.
Left outside linebacker
  • Projected starter: Kroy Biermann
  • Backup: Stansly Maponga
  • Comment: Biermann's status coming off an Achilles tear will be worth monitoring. Maponga will be one of the young pass-rushers the Falcons rely on for production.
Inside linebacker
  • Projected starter: Sean Weatherspoon
  • Backup: Joplo Bartu
  • Other: Marquis Spruill
  • Comment: Weatherspoon has been slowed significantly by injuries as of late, including a knee sprain that has limited his workload this offseason. He's still the heart and soul of the team.
Inside linebacker
  • Projected starter: Paul Worrilow
  • Backup: Yawin Smallwood
  • Other: Akeem Dent
  • Comment: We all know Worrilow is a tackling machine and a great success story after joining the team undrafted. Look out for the rookie Smallwood as a hidden gem.
Right outside linebacker
  • Projected starter: Jonathan Massaquoi
  • Backup: Osi Umenyiora
  • Others: Prince Shembo, Tyler Starr
  • Comment: Massaquoi might be the most important pass-rusher this season as the Falcons turn to a more collective effort. Using Umenyiora as a designated pass-rusher could pay dividends. Shembo can rush, too.
Strong safety
  • Projected starter: William Moore
  • Backup: Dezmen Southward
  • Comment: Moore's toughness and tenacity should be a tone-setter for a team in need of an attitude adjustment. He has to avoid the illegal hits, though.
Free safety
  • Projected starter: Dwight Lowery
  • Backup: Dezmen Southward, Kemal Ishmael
  • Comment: The newcomer Lowery, with 41 career starts, is the unknown. As long as he can tackle, he should be fine.
Left cornerback
  • Projected starter: Robert Alford
  • Backup: Josh Wilson
  • Other: Ricardo Allen
  • Comment: Alford still has some learning to do but his speed and athleticism make him a rising star. Wilson could end up as the primary nickelback.
Right cornerback
  • Projected starter: Desmond Trufant
  • Backup: Robert McClain
  • Other: Javier Arenas
  • Comment: Trufant will be a perennial Pro Bowler and one of the top shutdown corners in the league. He proved his value as a rookie and will only get better.
Kicker: Matt Bryant; Punter: Matt Bosher; Kick returner: Devin Hester, Jacquizz Rodgers; Punt returner: Devin Hester; Long-snapper: Josh Harris.

*Note: Safety Zeke Motta is coming off surgery to fix a cervical fracture, so his status for the 2014 season remains unclear.

Vaughn McClure

ESPN Atlanta Falcons reporter

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.