Reid Ferrin: What's your take on the 2014 Atlanta Falcons?
Alex Marvez: The biggest new look is the offensive and defensive lines; that's what is so exciting about this team trying to get back on its feet. On the offensive line, not only is there an incredible talent added in Jake Matthews, but you have one of the top, under-the-radar signings in Jon Asamoah, playing at right guard. What you like as well about this Falcons team is now there is depth and you can mix and match a little bit. You're going to have some capable players coming in off the bench, heaven forbid, someone gets injured. This has really become a team strength, rather than a weakness that it was last year. Defensively, a lot of different bodies — of course you'd love to have a marquee pass rusher with a pedigree in a 3-4 defense, being a double-digit sack guy every year, but I do think Jonathan Massaquois has that type of potential to be a double-digit sack guy. I also think too, you're going to see a lot of different looks by this Falcons defense, be very multiple, a lot of bodies up-front, so I think it really starts there and you can't ignore having Mike Tice and Bryan Cox, two tough-nosed coaches, handling those positions.
RF: Is it possible to overstate the impact of WRs Roddy White and Julio Jones?
AM: Especially without Tony Gonzalez and that's so critical now, how other players are going to have to step up. Julio was saying maybe a 1,500-yard receiving season for both of them, never been done in NFL history before, but you know what? Aim high. In a league now with the passing rules being a little more liberalized on defense, why not? Julio was unstoppable through the first five games last season, before he went down with the foot injury and you saw vintage Roddy White in the month of December, when he really came back and earned the big-money contract extension that he signed this offseason. The two will help Harry, who really put it all together for the first time in his career in 2013. Let's not forget too, Devin Hester is going to play a role in this offense and you have running backs out of the backfield, all of whom can catch; I mean there will be ample opportunities for Matt Ryan to complete passes, if he has time with this line and I think he will.
RF: Who's your under-the-radar player on this roster?
AM: Massaquoi, because he physically now looks the part. He has really bulked up and filled in nicely. I think he is someone that could really be a difference maker on this defense and they're looking for somebody to be that guy; he's stout against the run, but I think he also has wheels to get to the passer. He's someone I'd 'd really keep a guy on as I guy I think who is ready to come into his own.
RF: What are your evaluations of the Falcons Rookie Club?
AM: It's such a deep class; we're talking five guys that could potentially make an impact right away in Matthews, Hageman being part of that rotation, and physically, he looks outstanding, he trained with J.J. Watt's group this offseason to get into shape and the guy looks awesome. You know Devonta Freeman is going to get snaps and you're not sure what you're going to get from Steven Jackson. You're seeing Dezmen Southward at the safety position and Prince Shembo pushing for snaps as an inside linebacker and maybe able to win one of those two spots; so, to get five players out of a rookie class, without sacrificing in trades or anything like that, great job by Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and his staff, as usual.
RF: How would you describe the great relationship between Falcons head coach Mike Smith and general manager Thomas Dimitroff?
AM: They're very loyal to each other and this was a bond that was formed from a distance at first and then, two guys get to know and work with one another. One of the things that dooms teams is when the general manager and head coach aren't on the same page. These guys had a shared vision as to what they thought needed to be better for the Atlanta Falcons in 2014 and I think they'll execute it.