Breaking Down Atlanta's Defense By Position

Defensive End: Adrian Clayborn, Derrick Shelby, Brooks Reed, Dwight Freeney, Ra'Shede Hageman, Malliciah Goodman, Nordly Capi

As the Falcons look to bolster their pass-rush, some changes at defensive end could make a big difference in that regard. Moving Clayborn to DE full-time has allowed him to play where he's comfortable and most effective. Freeney, one of the best pass-rushers of all-time, can add pressure from the right side and mentor Atlanta's wealth of young defensive talent.

Shelby, who will also spend time inside, is an established run-stopper and developed his pass-rush skills last season in Miami. Reed, a former linebacker, seems like a fit at end now that he's healthy and in better shape than he was in 2015. Hageman has done a good job moving from tackle to end, per Quinn, and can be a solid option on first and second downs.

Further down the depth chart, Goodman and Capi can bolster their stocks by turning heads against Jacksonville on Thursday. Capi has stood out in a positive way on a number of occasions and was especially productive at Friday Night Lights.

Defensive Tackle: Grady Jarrett, Tyson Jackson, Jonathan Babineaux, Courtney Upshaw, Joey Mbu, Cory Johnson

Jarrett has quickly emerged as one of the best defensive linemen in Atlanta and is deserving of his place atop the depth chart. Jackson has looked like a good fit at tackle after spending time at end; Babineaux should continue to be a consistent force inside; and Courtney Upshaw, signed to help with run defense, can be a valuable part of the rotation.

Mbu showed potential last year and, like Upshaw, can help against the rush. Johnson, a college free agent signing out of Kentucky, could follow a similar path as Mbu: Develop on the practice squad and capitalize on an opportunity when it comes.

Linebackers: Paul Worrilow, Sean Weatherspoon, Vic Beasley, Jr., Deion Jones, De'Vondre Campbell, LaRoy Reynolds, Matt Wells

Quinn shed a lot of light on the inside linebacker situation during his postgame presser in Orlando. Jones, Campbell and Weatherspoon will get "the bulk of the reps" at those positions, per the head coach. Worrilow will be in the mix, too, albeit not in the same capacity.

Beasley and Wheeler will be among those seeing time at strongside linebacker, with Beasley listed as the starter in Atlanta's base 4-3 formation. (He will play defensive end in the nickel package, as well.)

Cornerback: Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, Akeem King, Jalen Collins, C.J. Goodwin, Brian Poole, DeMarcus Van Dyke, Devonte Johnson

Cornerback has been one of the more intriguing positions to monitor throughout camp and preseason. Trufant and Alford have locked up the top two spots, but beyond them, a lot of different players have pushed for snaps with the first-team defense.

King, Goodwin and Poole are in the mix to play nickel, and all three have had encouraging moments at that position. Collins had a strong camp and will have opportunities to contribute when his four-game suspension is over.

There's a lot left to be decided here, and it'll be interesting to see how the snaps are allocated throughout 2016.

Safety: Ricardo Allen, Keanu Neal, Kemal Ishmael, Robenson Therezie, Dashon Goldson, Damian Parms, Sharrod Neasman

Neal has quickly ascended into the No. 1 strong safety job, but as he recovers from the knee injury he suffered against Miami, Ishmael — who has a lot of experience filling in when needed — is in line to start. Goldson, a two-time Pro Bowler, could see action at SS too; Parms and Neasman are also in the mix.

Allen has locked down the starting free safety role and has grown into a defensive leader. Therezie, a second-year pro, is listed as Allen's backup on the latest depth chart.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content

Advertising