FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – As the Falcons get ready for their first exhibition contest on Thursday versus the Miami Dolphins, the team’s first unofficial depth chart has been released.
- Unofficial depth chart: Offense | Defense | Special teams
- Here’s where each the 2017 draft pick is currently listed
The Falcons currently have 91 players on the roster and will have to trim it to 53 by Sept. 2. This marks the first year teams are allowed to keep a full 90-man roster through all four preseason games.
Here are the six biggest takeaways:
1. Garland listed as the Falcons’ starting right guard over Schweitzer
One of the few open positions Atlanta has in its starting lineup is at right guard where the battle has been narrowed down to Ben Garland and Wes Schweitzer. Garland made the switch from defensive line to offensive line in the 2016 season where he played 101 snaps – 52 on defense, 49 on offense. Garland possesses the quickness, strength and toughness needed to play along Atlanta’s offensive line.
Schweitzer, Atlanta’s sixth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, has yet to see any game action during the regular season. However, Schweitzer joined the Falcons with experience in a similar offense ran at San Jose State and now has a year of NFL experience under his belt.
Coach Dan Quinn said he expects the competition between these two to go deep into the preseason.
2. Goodwin climbing the cornerback depth chart
Wide receiver turned cornerback, C.J. Goodwin, has emerged as one of Atlanta’s top backups at the cornerback position. Goodwin is listed behind Robert Alford on the depth chart.
Goodwin was signed to the Falcons’ practice squad in November of 2015 as a wide receiver. With his 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame, Quinn believed he could be an ideal fit at cornerback – a position group the Falcons needed depth at.
Before the end of the 2015 season, Goodwin began his transition to cornerback. Ahead of the 2016 season, Goodwin spent the entire offseason solely working with the cornerbacks.
Between Goodwin’s athleticism and ball skills, Goodwin has become natural fit at the position. He went on to play in 14 games last year where he recorded seven tackles and broke up two passes.
Quinn said Goodwin’s performance through the first two weeks of training camp has “jumped out” to him.
3. Roberts is Falcons’ No. 1 option at both kick/punt return
One of the other openings in the Falcons’ starting lineup is at kick/punt returner and as expected, Andre Roberts is the leader of the pack.
Roberts signed with the Falcons during the free agency period after spending the previous season as the Lions’ starting punt and kick returner. While in Detroit, Roberts returned two punts for touchdowns and has recorded 2,047 yards and one touchdown in his eight-year career as a kick returner in the NFL.
Wide receiver Justin Hardy is the No. 2 option here, with college free agent Reggie Davis as the No. 3 option at kick returner and Nick Williams the No. 3 punt return option.
4. Ward remains Atlanta’s No. 3 running back
One of the position battles Quinn said he was “eager” to see play out during camp was at running back. The Falcons return the two-headed monster of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, but the competition between Terron Ward, Brian Hill and B.J. Daniels for the No. 3 spot is one to keep an eye on through the preseason.
Ward signed with the Falcons as a college free agent in May of 2015 and has seen action in 18 games, logging 60 carries for 151 yards and one touchdown.
Hill, one of Atlanta’s fifth-round draft picks in the 2017 NFL Draft, ran for 4,287 yards on 775 carries with 35 touchdowns during his three seasons at Wyoming.
Daniels is in his second season with the Falcons as he was a member of Atlanta’s practice squad during the 2016 season after spending time with the 49ers, Seahawks, Texans, Giants and Chicago Bears. Daniels was drafted by San Francisco in the seventh round of the 2013 NFL Draft.
5. Riley, Harlow have highest spots among rookies
Duke Riley is listed behind De’Vondre Campbell at the weakside linebacker spot.
The Falcons drafted Riley in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft out of LSU and the rookie hasn’t stopped impressing since his arrival in Atlanta. In his four years in Baton Rouge, he recorded 144 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and one interception.
Riley has proved he has the speed Atlanta wants at linebacker and he also possesses the leadership qualities that has allowed him to earn the respect of many early on.
Harlow has had some good moments in camp. Ben Garland and Wes Schweitzer, listed in that order on the first unofficial preseason depth chart, have been getting a majority of the work at right guard, but Harlow, who is slotted at left guard, has received some reps and expects to also see some work at backup center.
6. Graf, Brunskill serving as backup tackle options for the Falcons
The Falcons listed Daniel Brunskill as the backup to Jake Matthews at left tackle and Kevin Graf as the backup to Ryan Schraeder at right tackle.
Graf was signed to the Falcons’ practice squad in November of 2016 and was promoted to the active roster in early December. The offensive lineman was cut the following week and re-signed with the team as a practice squad member.
Prior to his time with the Falcons, Graf signed with the Philadelphia Eagles (2014-2015) as an undrafted free agent after coming out of Southern California and he also spent time with the Indianapolis Colts (2016).
A tight end turned tackle, Brunskill switched positions ahead of his senior year at San Diego State. Brunskill possesses the athleticism the Falcons desire in their offensive linemen. After one season at tackle, he earned second-team All-Mountain West honors.
Quinn said the competition here is “wide open” and once the team gets into the games, they will have a better evaluation.