When XFINITY® Training Camp gets underway next week, there should be plenty of competition along the defensive line. What there won't be, however, are lots of jobs up for grabs.
Between six key returners and the addition of Derrick Shelby, Atlanta doesn't have many open spots at defensive line. Last season Dan Quinn kept eight DL on the active roster, and if that number remains the same in 2016, there may only be one vacancy to be filled.
Joey Mbu, a college free agent signing out of Houston, should receive a lot of consideration. As a rookie he developed well as a practice squad member; his hard work paid off late in the season when he got called up to the active roster, making his regular season debut in Carolina.
Malliciah Goodman is another option. Although he appeared in just four games last year, he started 10 times in 2014 and can help set the edge at defensive end. The Clemson product is entering a contract year and might be ready for a breakout season.
Along with Goodman and Mbu, four newcomers will be in the mix: Nordly Capi, Cory Johnson, Chris Mayes and Brandon Williams.
Capi, an Akron alum, signed with Jacksonville last year as a college free agent and eventually landed on Baltimore's practice squad. He registered four sacks and nine tackles for loss during his senior campaign.
Johnson, a CFA signing out of Kentucky, shined at defensive tackle last season, which was highlighted by a 77-yard touchdown he scored after recovering a fumble. He also earned 10-plus tackles on two occasions.
Another CFA addition, Mayes, received a lot of attention at the scouting combine by bench pressing 225 pounds 33 times—the most reps among defensive lineman in attendance. The DT out of Georgia made 41 tackles last season in 10 games.
Williams had a successful career at Southern Illinois, where he registered 101 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 18 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in 43 games. As someone who blocked three kicks during his senior year—one of which he returned for a touchdown—he could have value on special teams.
Who is most likely to have a breakout performance during training camp?