Which group of Falcons positions need strengthening the most?
Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith have always been outspoken about how the Falcons don’t rebuild themselves, but the list paints a different picture. Of course, Matt Ryan is an above-average quarterback in this league, and both sides of the ball have ascending players – AJ Terrell, Grady Jarrett, Deion Jones, Jake Matthews, Chris Lindstrom, Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage, etc. – but still, there are weaknesses on the list. I have already explored which groups of positions are strongest and weakest, but it is not enough that the defenders on the edge are strengthened.
Let’s move on to the weakest position group on the list, led by Dante Fowler. Fowler is by far the most talented and proven passer in this group, but 2020 has been Fowler’s worst season so far – career low in sacks and games played, missing more tackles than d habit and less effective against running. He suffered a pay cut and had a year of his contract canceled, so Fowler’s Atlanta future doesn’t look big.
Behind him is a host of untested pass runners – Adetokunbo Ogundeji, Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, Steven Means and Barkevious Mingo. Keke is the most experienced of this rotating group and will be a valuable piece for this team as he can do whatever this coaching staff asks him to do, even if he doesn’t do anything spectacularly. He’s strong in support of the run, can fall into cover and obviously rush the passer. Last year with Ted Monachino in Chicago, Mingo had 35 tackles, 2.5 sacks, five quarterback hits and two defended. Ogundeji and JTM are both versatile defenders who can be used in multiple rosters on the line of scrimmage, but don’t inspire much confidence.
Again, the Edge Defenders aren’t the only position group that could use a few extra corps. The corner room is questionable at best. Without knowing what will be the performance of Fabian Moreau, it is difficult to predict who will start against Terrell. Moreau will likely face Darren Hall for the borderline corner position, while Isaiah Oliver and Hall will battle for the nickel role. Behind these three things look bleak.
The defensive line needs someone next to Grady Jarrett, and whether it’s Marlon Davidson or a squad of inside defenders, the Falcons need more production in the trenches – on both sides of the ball. The defensive front may be catastrophic, but the offensive line is not much better. Other than Jake Matthews and Chris Lindstrom, the Falcons don’t have any confirmed players. Matt Hennessy and Drew Dalman will face off in center, while Jalen Mayfield and Josh Andrews will likely vie for left guard – neither are ideal.
The Falcons could use the most help on the offensive line and on the edge, but those aforementioned groups of positions all need more body. Now whether it’s a starter or greater depth of spin it’s on a case-by-case basis, but this list is definitely closer to rebuilding than racing in my opinion.