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Bair Mail: On Troy Andersen, Marlon Davidson, Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot mentality, plus present and future needs

Your questions get answers in this Wednesday mailbag

The Falcons are trying to expand their young foundation. They have some solid bedrock at this point, with Kyle Pitts, Chris Lindstrom and A.J. Terrell expected to anchor this team for years to come. Parts of it came loose this last offseason, with Foye Oluokun and Russell Gage leaving in free agency. Such is life in the modern NFL, where it's darn near impossible to keep a nucleus completely together. That's especially true with the Falcons salary-cap troubles, which they're working through and nearly out of now.


There's hope members of this current NFL Draft class can join Terrell, Pitts and Lindstrom, and that slightly older selections can develop and break out and add to the establish young talent base. We'll talk about those prospects in this Wednesday mailbag, including what other positions need to be addressed:

Vee Kuli from Inglewood, Calif.

What do you think the expectations will be for Troy Andersen this season? I'm hoping he wins a starting job and has a Micah Parsons type rookie season ... wishful thinking lol

Bair: That would be, well, the best possible scenario. Troy Andersen is a supreme athlete, and there's no doubt Dean Pees is drawing up ways to take advantage of his speed. We should, however, temper expectations somewhat for a talent from an FCS school with relative inexperience at the interior linebacker position. He moved around quite a bit in school, as well, so he certainly has a lot to learn.

He also plays a position that has plenty of veteran talent. Rashaan Evans and Nick Kwiatkoski could easily be three-down linebackers, and that doesn't include Deion Jones if he's healthy and representing the Falcons this fall. He could be an option on passing downs early on. He'll definitely help on special teams and have to earn any other roles. Maybe he makes that immediate impact and can move around the defense somewhat, though, to my knowledge, he hasn't played the edge rusher position.

We'll have to wait and see what he earns and what Pees has in store. I do think he’s an intriguing modern linebacker who can do a lot. I think, in time, that he'll develop into a quality NFL starter. That may not have been the answer you're looking for, but I think that's a realistic outlook for Andersen. If surprises, that's nothing but a bonus for the Falcons defense.

The rookies and vets are out at Flowery Branch working together as a team for the first time.

Isaac Abraham from Savannah, Ga.

Hi, I just wanted to know what we're gonna do with Marlon Davidson, I mean we got him In the 2nd round and he hasn't produced much, so do you think he'll take a leap in year 3 or no?

Bair: I'm certainly in his corner. Marlon Davidson is a good, funny dude who has the talent to get things cranked up. The Falcons would love for him to be a major part of the rotation, working with Grady Jarrett, TaQuon Graham, Vincent Taylor and Anthony Rush up front.

Jarrett's a proven interior pressure player, but certainly needs some help on the interior. That's especially true on passing downs, where Davidson could step up. The talent is certainly there. If he can stay healthy and continue to develop, it's possible he performance could improve. This is a big year for the Auburn product, and the Falcons need him at his best.

Jake Stevens from Gainesville, Ga.

Hey man, just finished reading an article on Grady. And one thing that jumped out to me was when he said that "coach wants his respect as a coach. Terry wants his respect as a GM." Can you kinda give me your take on that? I think that's outstanding. Love to hear that. And I think it's why it seems like Art is kinda stand-offish in pressers. Anyways have a good one.

Bair: I, too, really liked that quote from Grady. I think it's a smart way of saying that the whole organization has the chip-on-your-shoulder mentality, that it extends beyond the roster. I think it makes total sense, considering who Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot are as individuals.

Smith is a first-time head coach trying to establish himself as more than just a savvy offensive mind and play caller. Fontenot is working to turn the franchise around, to get right with the cap while setting the roster up for sustained success. Lots of folks try. Not everyone succeeds. Fontenot and Smith are driven to get it right and outperform what many believe possible.

I also don't think Smith is standoffish. He's a smart interviewee and he's going to tell you what he thinks, even if it's blunt. I don't mind his press conference style and respect the fact he's going to tell you straight up that he's not going to answer something. I think that's better than being evasive, talking a bunch while saying nothing.

Joey Smith from Jonesboro, Ga.

What do you consider as the Falcons' greatest needs? I feel like they have four critical needs and am aware that they will have an abundance of money to spend in free agency and some of these could be filled that way as well as through the draft. The four critical positions are in my opinion left guard, right tackle, defensive end / edge rusher and defensive tackle. I would love your take on where they need help and to see if you agree with me that the trenches need to be the focus. Keep up the great work!

Bair: It's always tough to go over needs for the following year, considering we don't know who will step up and stand out, and where unexpected trouble spots might pop up.

That said, the Falcons weren't able to address every need with a long-term solution. That isn't a surprise, considering this was always expected to be a longer-term remodel. I would say the four positions you mention have question marks, for sure. If they're going to add a veteran free agent or two heading into training camp, interior offensive and defensive line might be the spot to do it. I think the Falcons should see what they have in young edge rushers – that includes Lorenzo Carter.

Giving Grady Jarrett some more help and maybe more competition along the interior line would help Let 'em battle it out in camp and may the best man win.

Call for questions

Let's refill the mailbag!. Submit your questions right here for inclusion in a Friday Bair Mail.


Falcons Final Whistle | A Postgame Podcast

Break down the hottest topics surrounding the Atlanta Falcons and how they can impact the team's success with Falcons Insiders Scott Bair, Tori McElhaney and Terrin Waack. Like and subscribe to join us for the lively debate on Falcons Final Whistle.

Welcome to Falcons Final Whistle – an Atlanta Falcons football postgame podcast during the season that shifts gears in the offseason to answer a pressing question about the team's future each week through free agency, the NFL Draft and the offseason program.

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