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Final 53 man roster discussion

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This topic was started on another falcons board and I thought I would post here to get more responses to my response to Torgo on the final 53 man roster.

Falcons pre-exhibition mock roster

Score: 208

August 12, 2011 12:10 am

Sure, it's early to try to peg the full 53-man roster and the practice squad. We haven't even played an exhibition yet. But we're already seeing 2012 mock drafts out there, so let's give it a go...

Quarterback: Matt Ryan, Chris Redman, John Parker Wilson.

Who's out: Adam Froman. He'll try to earn a practice squad job in the exhibitions. I'm not putting him down for a squad spot yet though. He'll have to earn it.

Player to watch in preseason: JPW will try to show he's a legit candidate for the #2 job. Redman is in the final year of his contract, so the team will have some decisions to make after this season.

Running back/fullback: Michael Turner, Ovie Mughelli, Jason Snelling, Jacquizz Rodgers, Gartrell Johnson.

Practice squad: Philip Sylvester.

Who's out: Antone Smith. He's actually looking a bit better in camp this year than he did when he won the #5 job in camp last year. But Johnson passed him on the depth chart after joining the organization in midseason. Smith's size makes him a liability as a blocker, and he's still inconsistent (that's being kind) as a receiver. Johnson excelled on special teams last year, so he's likely to take the spot.

Players to watch in preseason: the three speedsters Quizz, Sylvester and Smith. The question is whether the team can effectively use a change of pace back. The Falcons never managed to get Jerious Norwood enough touches even when he was healthy, and Smith only got one rushing attempt last season. If we're really going to become more explosive on offense, we'll have to start getting the ball into the hands of the speedy guys in open space and let them fly to daylight.

Wide receiver: Roddy White, Julio Jones, Harry Douglas, Kerry Meier, Eric Weems.

Practice squad: Brandyn Harvey.

Who's out: obviously, Michael Jenkins. I believe the team actually wanted to keep him, but having the cap at a mere $120M changed their plans.

Players to watch in preseason: all of them - including the unnamed prospects. There are different reasons to pay attention to all of them. Just for the sake of dropping a name, watch to see how much Weems has progressed as a receiver entering his true third season in the league. That will be a factor in whether the team keeps five receivers or expands the group to six.

Tight end: Tony Gonzalez, Michael Palmer, Justin Peelle.

Practice squad: Marquez Branson.

I already made the call in an earlier thread. I think Palmer takes over the #2 job from Peelle. He can block. He can catch. He has ideal size, and he has been working on his strength and conditioning since the end of last season.

Player to watch in preseason: at least for me, it's Ryan Winterswyk. The Falcons just might keep him on the practice squad, as both Gonzalez and Peelle are free agents after this season. Since the practice squad is a minimal investment, it would make sense to have as many TE prospects around as possible to learn from TG while he's still here. And Winterswyk's versatility (a natural defensive end who can also line up at fullback or h-back) would make him an ideal member of the scout team.

Offensive line: Sam Baker, Justin Blalock, Todd McClure, Garrett Reynolds, Tyson Clabo (starters)

Mike Johnson, Joe Hawley, Andrew Jackson, Jose Valdez (reserves).

Practice squad: Matt Murphy.

Player to watch: Valdez. He'll be playing left tackle this preseason after having played right guard and right tackle over the last two camps and preseasons. If the coaches gain confidence in him at LT, he's likely to stick. Also keep an eye on the prospect centers Paul Fenaroli and Ryan McMahon. The team needs someone to snap the ball for the scout team. Rob Bruggeman is eligible to return for a third season, but the newcomers might unseat him if they show promise.

Who's out: Will Svitek. Without Snelling, there was a good chance the team might have gone with just four RBs on the main roster and kept a tenth lineman. Resigning Snelling makes that scenario far less likely. Johnson (with Reynolds taking the starting RG spot) and Hawley are near locks for roster spots. That leaves Valdez, Jackson, and Svitek competing for two remaining spots. I'm already making the call: Jackson is in. Even if he's flops in preseason, the coaching staff won't want to risk losing him by putting him through waivers to get him on the practice squad.

That makes it Valdez vs Svitek, which is why Valdez is so important to watch. If Valdez gets it done at LT, Svitek is out. The former Arkansas left tackle is bigger, younger, more versatile and has more upside than Svitek, who turns 30 the week of the wild card games.

Defensive end: John Abraham, Ray Edwards, Kroy Biermann, Cliff Matthews, Lawrence Sidbury.

Who's out: Chauncey Davis. It's shaping up to be a battle between Davis and Sidbury. Davis has experience, and the coaching staff likes him. He also carries a $3M base salary, which is extremely tough to justify for a #4 or #5 defensive end. If the coaching staff determines a need anywhere on the roster, the fastest way to clear cap space for an incoming player would be to jettison Davis.

Player to watch: Sidbury. He has impressive speed and will try to hold off Matthews for the #4 spot. He got stuck on the inactive list as a side effect of Peria's ongoing injury struggles, and he has a chip on his shoulder to show that he really can contribute to the rotation.

Defensive tackle: Jonathan Babineaux, Peria Jerry, Corey Peters, Vance Walker.

Who's out: Trey Lewis. The team kept all five DTs last year while Jerry tried to work his way back up to speed. That's not likely to happen again this season. Lewis is the biggest of the lot and played like a monster before he got hurt during his rookie season. He hasn't been the same since. If he can't regain the drive he had when he battled to make the roster in 2007, it will be the end of the line.

Player to watch: Peters. He did well for a rookie last year and is continuing to make progress. He'll try to hold off Jerry for the starting spot again this year. I'm told that he's legitimately ahead of Jerry on the depth chart. I have a feeling that will change as of the third preseason game.

Linebacker: Sean Weatherspoon, Curtis Lofton, Stephen Nicholas, Akeem Dent, Mike Peterson, Coy Wire, Spencer Adkins.

Practice squad: Bear Woods.

Who's out: Robert James. The 2008 fifth rounder (Dimitroff selected him AHEAD of Biermann) has yet to crack the roster. After two years on the practice squad, this is probably make-or-break time for him. He meets the qualifications for one more go at the practice squad, but if he still can't beat out Adkins or Wire this time around, he's probably toast.

Player to watch: Adkins. The team's basic makeup comes out to 52 players, with one spot completely up for grabs. In this mock, I have the team keeping using the extra spot to keep a seventh linebacker. If they keep only six, it will come down to Adkins (speedy but has yet to break through) vs Wire (aging but a solid backup and core special teams player). Of the two, Adkins is the unknown factor, so he's the top LB to watch this preseason.

Cornerback: Dunta Robinson, Brent Grimes, Dominique Franks, Chris Owens, Kamaal McIlwain

Practice squad: Darrin Walls

Players to watch: everyone after Robinson and Grimes. Franks and Owens are competing for the nickel spot. Rafael Priest is right there in the mix for the #5 spot along with McIlwain, Walls, and Belgrave.

As a rule, I only look at players currently in the organization when listing a mock roster. But there's also a strong chance that someone else becomes available as a potential extra CB. We didn't hesitate to snag Domonique Foxworth in 2008 or Brian Williams in 2009.

Safety: Thomas DeCoud, William Moore, Shann Schillinger, Rafael Bush.

Player to watch: Bush was a small school undrafted prospect on our practice squad last season. But he's athletic, quick, and a hard hitter - and he made great strides in his coverage skills last season. The coaching staff has hinted that we might even see him get some time as the nickel back in preseason. Also, prospects Suaesi Tuimaunei (Oregon State) and Matt Hansen (Rhode Island) are right in the thick of the competition for a practice squad DB spot.

Specialists: Matt Bryant, Matt Bosher, Joe Zelenka.

We're hearing a lot about Rob Parrish (punter, spent last season in UFL), and he's doing well with his placements. But until he steps forward and outperforms Bosher, the sixth rounder will likely take the spot. Bosher wasn't just a top five college punter. He was also a top kicking prospect that excelled at long range attempts.

Bryant and Zelenka are the two oldest players on the roster at 35, but age isn't particularly critical for place kickers and long snappers.

My response:


This is what I have been waiting for. Also, thanks very much for your quick and detailed response to my previous questions.

I agree with the majority of your picks but I have a few differences partly just because of my personal preferences and I,m hoping Smith and Dimitroff may see it my way.

This is in no particular order of importance.

1. Wide Receiver: Roddy White, Julio Jones, Harry Douglas, Kerry Meier, Eric Weems.

Practice Squad: Tim Buckley

Basis: Tim Buckley made the practice squad the entire year in 2010 over both Brandyn Harvey and Andy Strickland. Tim Buckley is also listed third on the preseason depth chart for the miami game along with Andy Strickland while Brandyn Harvey is listed as fourth string.

2. Tight end: Tony Gonzalez, Michael Palmer, Justin Peelle.

Practice squad: Ryan Winterswyk.

Basis: In 2010 the falcons attempted to convert another former DE: Dan Kleco to FB/TE and if not for some key drops in the final preseason game I believe Klecko would have made the team. I believe that falcons management is determined to find a player who can fulfill the TE/FB role and eventually replace Ovie Mughelli on the roster as the Full Back position in the NFL is losing it's importance and one player will be able to fulfill both roles.

3. Defensive tackle: Jonathan Babineaux, Peria Jerry, Corey Peters, Vance Walker, Trey Lewis.

Practice Squad: Kiante Tripp

Basis: Lewis played very well both his rookie year before his injury and during training camp last year. Also, You mentioned that Lewis was the biggest DT on the team and I believe that this primary factor will eventually earn him a starting spot either this year or next year after Jonathan Babineaux leaves via Free agency.

4. Linebacker: Sean Weatherspoon, Curtis Lofton, Stephen Nicholas, Akeem Dent, Mike Peterson, Robert James, Spencer Adkins.

Practice squad: Bear Woods.

Every year since he was drafted few have expected Robert James to make the final roster spot or practice squad yet after three years he is still here. Not to mention having to overcome a four game suspension last year for steroid use which in my opinion is the only reason Spencer Adkins was able to move ahead of him last year on the depth chart.

If anyone has been to the practices you know this guy is a good coverage linebacker and excellent special teams player. He also was the first re-signing the team made at the end of the season last year following the lost to Green Bay.

5. Cornerback: Dunta Robinson, Brent Grimes, Dominique Franks, Chris Owens.

Practice squad: Kamaal McIlwain

Basis: Last year as the fifth cornerback Dominique Franks was inactive nearly every single game last year during the regular season. I do not believe it is a coincidence that the falcons entered training camp this year with only four cornerbacks except for the undrafted free agents. I believe the plan all along has been to have Rafael Bush serve as the backup cornerback/safety position and only carry a total of eight DB's on the final 53 man roster.

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With regards to the WRer's I think HD needs a big year if he flops this year he's a gonna so I really think HD will be the guy to watch out of the WRer group.If he gives us that quickness underneath lookout the rest of the league I really think we could be a 30+ point scoring team this year.

Along the O-line I'm interested in this Mt.Reynolds Mike Johnson battle for RG.

LBers I wanna see Spoon back at 100% making plays blitzing and especially in coverage we really missed his speed in the nickel last year.

DE I'm interested how many snaps Sidbury will get this year.It looks like with this knee injury Ray Edwards has he may be bought back slowly so I'm thinking maybe Sidbury gets some more snaps at LDE so I'm interesed to see how his pass rush goes.

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