Written by: Joe Carlino @joecarlino14
Over the weekend, all 32 NFL teams trimmed their roster down from the 90 bodies present in camp to the final 53-man roster which will be utilized on game day. While most teams had some of their cuts announced publicly, one organization which seemingly went under the radar with their waived/released players was the Atlanta Falcons, who are set to open up their 2019 campaign with the members of the “Brotherhood” who survived the preseason as they venture into Minnesota.
Before training camp began for Atlanta in late July, I had done a 53-man prediction article and who I thought was going to be representing this classy team and coaching staff come Week One. With Minnesota fast approaching, let’s take a look back at my predictions and see how many players I got right:
Prediction: Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub
Actual Results: Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub
Back at the Hall of Fame game, I’ll admit I was kind of sold on Kurt Benkert giving Schaub a run for his money as Ryan’s backup. Unfortunately he got injured in said game, so Schaub keeps his position here. As for the starter, that’s not even up for debate for at least five more years.
Overall score: 2/2
Prediction: Devonta Freeman, Ito Smith, Qadree Ollison
Actual Results: Devonta Freeman, Ito Smith, Qadree Ollison, Brian Hill, Kenjon Barner, Ricky Ortiz
I did not anticipate Atlanta keeping this many running backs on their final roster. Yes, their offensive backfield is a running back by committee, yet this seems like too many heads back there. Ollison has been reported to have “passed a test” in Dan Quinn’s eyes as a fullback, so maybe he’s going to turn some heads there and have more opportunities alongside Freeman and Smith.
Overall score: 3/6
Prediction: Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Mohamed Sanu, Justin Hardy, Russell Gage, Marcus Green
Actual Results: Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Mohamed Sanu, Justin Hardy, Russell Gage, Olamide Zaccheaus
I was nearly perfect here in the Falcons receiving core. It’s no secret they’re one of, if not the best, receiving core in the NFL today. Ok, at least the top three receivers are. As for the others, Hardy and Gage have seen plenty of targets throughout their time in Atlanta and have made the best out of said chances. However, I don’t know how this rookie Zaccheaus will perform. One thing of note: he’s learning from Julio on how to get better at making cuts.
Overall Score: 5/6
Prediction: Austin Hooper, Luke Stocker, Eric Saubert, Logan Paulsen
Actual Results: Austin Hooper, Luke Stocker, Jaeden Graham
The tight end group has been very deep in Atlanta since Tony Gonzalez was a member of the squad. This doesn’t change here, even though my initial prediction had one more player than the actual results. Hooper has consistently improved every year, while Stocker and Graham will be useful in opening up more lanes for the backs.
Overall Score: 2/3
Prediction: Jake Matthews, James Carpenter, Alex Mack, Chris Lindstrom, Kaleb McGary, Ty
Sambrailo, Jamon Brown, Wes Schweitzer, Matt Gono
Actual Results: Alex Mack, Jake Matthews, Chris Lindstrom, Jamon Brown, James Carpenter, Matt Gono,Ty Sambrailo, Kaleb McGary, Wes Schweitzer
Did not expect to go perfect on the offensive line category, especially considering that the interior between Matthews and Mack is under constant rotation. However, from what I’ve seen and heard, Lindstrom is going to be a stud on the interior, which is why Atlanta selected him 14th overall. McGary recently got back to playing following his heart condition, so while he’s still getting up to speed, it’ll be nice to see both linemen keeping Ryan upright and opening up more lanes for the backs. As for the rest of the linemen, they’ve all had their ups and downs throughout this league, so most will be utilized in backup roles to keep the ones fresh.
Overall Score: 9/9
Prediction: Vic Beasley, Jr., Takk McKinley, Adrian Clayborn, Grady Jarrett, Jack Crawford, Deadrin Senat, Tyeler Davison, John Cominsky, Ra’Shede Hageman, Allen Bailey
Actual Results: Allen Bailey, Adrian Clayborn, John Cominsky, Takk McKinley, Vic Beasley, Jr., Jack Crawford, Deadrin Senat, Tyeler Davison, Grady Jarrett
I’m on a roll here, folks. I was perfect on the offensive line roster players, and now I’m perfect on the defensive line to boot. While I did go one player over the amount going into the trenches for Atlanta, their defensive line unit will be tasked with ensuring the quarterback is under constant duress while also preventing the running game from succeeding and opening up the play-action game. Not to mention, Beasley’s on his option year and Jarrett just inked a massive extension, plus McKinley’s coming to “A-TAKK” opposing players.
Overall Score: 9/9
Prediction: Deion Jones, De’Vondre Campbell, Foye Oluokun, Bruce Carter, Kemal Ishmael, Duke Riley
Actual Results: Deion Jones, De’Vondre Campbell, Foye Oluokun, Duke Riley, Jermaine Grace
Atlanta’s linebacker core is still a very competent unit, with the newly-extended Jones being the anchor of this unit. However, don’t count out Campbell, who has showcased his ability to correctly read opposing team’s setups and properly alert the front seven to where they should attack. I like the development of Oluokun, and all signs from Atlanta have pointed towards Grace being another cog in this lineup. The shocker here, though, is Riley, because most people (myself included) haven’t been the biggest supporter of his, primarily because he’s usually out of position or misses easy tackles. Maybe this year he’ll show some improvement.
Overall Score: 4/5
Prediction: Desmond Trufant, Isaiah Oliver, Damontae Kazee, Ricardo Allen, Keanu Neal, Chris Cooper, Kendall Sheffield, Blidi-Wreh Wilson, Jordan Miller, Sharrod Neasman
Actual Results: Desmond Trufant, Isaiah Oliver, Damontae Kazee, Blidi Wreh-Wilson, Kendall Sheffield, Jordan Miller, Ricardo Allen, Keanu Neal, Kemal Ishmael, Sharrod Neasman
I’ll be objectionable here when I say that, even though I had Ishmael in my prediction article, I had him at his standard linebacker position, not as a safety. However, he’s shown that, given the opportunity to work with the secondary unit, he’ll do whatever he can to help the squad. The return of Allen and Neal from devastating lower leg injuries will be critical for Atlanta’s secondary, as it was nearly impossible for them to not get off the field. “Krazy Kazee” is now our nickel cornerback, so he’s going to be more of a coverage corner. With Trufant and Oliver leading the way outside the numbers, it should be easy for him to defend the interception title he shared with two other players last year.
Overall Score: 9/10
Prediction: Giorgio Tavecchio, Matt Bosher, Josh Harris
Actual Results: Matt Bryant, Matt Bosher, Josh Harris
Here comes the Money! Yes, for anyone living under a rock, Bryant is back with the Falcons again, signing a one-year deal just seven months after his surprising release. Now, while I stand with the fact that it feels like a cop-out to appease the relentless “Twitter police”, I can’t reasonably stand here and deny the great moments Bryant has brought our great organization. I do feel a little bad for Tavecchio though, but if Atlanta needs a kicker again, I wouldn’t be surprised if they gave him another opportunity considering he did go a perfect 5-for-5 in relief of Bryant last year.
Overall Score: 2/3
Overall Prediction Total: 45/53 (84.9%)