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Projecting the Falcons Offensive Depth Chart: Who Starts at QB?

Who will make the 53-man roster on the offensive side of the ball?

The Atlanta Falcons roster currently stands at 90 players, with OTAs set to start next week. Here’s how the 53 man roster may play out after cuts.

Desmond Ridder
CordarrellePatterson
Kyle Pitts

Quarterback

QB1: Marcus Mariota

QB2: Desmond Ridder

QB3: Feleipe Franks

Due to his experience not just in the NFL, but also in Arthur Smith’s offense, Mariota is likely to get the nod in week 1. Expect Ridder, the third-round rookie, to be worked into the rotation, and potentially start at some point later on in the season. 

Franks, who went undrafted in 2021, was used as a tight end, special teamer, and read option QB, and Smith may see a chance for Franks to be a poor man’s Taysom Hill. There’s a solid chance Franks borders on the active/inactive line most weeks.

Running Back

RB1: Cordarrelle Patterson

RB2: Damien Williams

RB3: Tyler Allgeier

RB4: Qadree Ollison

Ollison isn’t a safe bet to make the roster, but the order of the top three feels safe. It’s likely to be another year of a committee in the backfield, with Damien Williams taking the place of Mike Davis, who was cut earlier this offseason. 

Expect the rookie Allgeier, a fifth-round pick who’s a perfect fit for Smith’s wide-zone offense, to get a few touches a game.

Fullback

FB1: Keith Smith

Smith is good at his job and isn’t facing any competition. This feels like a safe one to pencil in.

Wide Receiver

WR1: Drake London

WR2: Bryan Edwards

WR3: Olamide Zaccheaus

WR4: Auden Tate

WR5: Damiere Byrd

One noticeable omission here is Kha’Darel Hodge, who Atlanta signed in free agency. However, with Patterson and Kyle Pitts both taking snaps at wide receiver, having six pure receivers is a bit excessive. 

It’s possible Auden Tate is a surprise cut, as having London, Edwards, and Tate is rather redundant, especially when factoring in Tate’s lack of special teams experience.

Tight End

TE1: Kyle Pitts

TE2: Anthony Firkser

TE3: John FitzPatrick

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TE4: Parker Hesse

Pitts has already established himself as one of the top tight ends in the NFL, age aside. He’s a special talent who could put up another 1,000 yard season in year two. 

Firkser posted solid numbers with Arthur Smith in Tennessee, and will take over the Hayden Hurst role in the Atlanta offense. On a similar note, FitzPatrick should replace Lee Smith, who retired after the 2021 season, as the best blocking tight end on the roster.

Jake Matthews
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Left Tackle:

LT1: Jake Matthews

LT2: Elijah Wilkinson

Matthews has been a model of consistency on the left side for the Falcons ever since the team took him with its first pick in the 2014 Draft. With Atlanta giving Matthews a new contract this offseason, he’s set to be a stabilizing force while the team looks to enter a new era. 

Wilkinson is on the other end of the boat, as he’ll enter his first year in Atlanta, coming over from the Chicago Bears. Though Wilkinson never played on the left side in college or the NFL, the makeup of the Falcons roster suggests he’ll be the swing tackle.

Left Guard:

LG1: Jalen Mayfield

LG2: Justin Shaffer

Mayfield allowed the most sacks in the NFL last season, but it was also a tall task asking him to play a brand new position as a rookie. He had flashes as a run blocker, but must take the next step in 2022. 

Shaffer, a sixth-round pick, started at left guard for two years at Georgia, and is a power-oriented player who has similar strengths and weaknesses as Mayfield.

Center:

C1: Matt Hennessy

C2: Drew Dalman

Perhaps the most interesting position battle lies here, as Hennessy and Dalman began rotating down the stretch last year. Hennessy, the incumbent starter who’s now entering his third season with the Falcons, has a similar skill-set to Dalman, as both are undersized but athletic. 

They can also play guard if needed. Hennessy will likely get the first chance to start, but should he struggle, don’t be surprised to see Dalman get a chance early.

Right Guard:

RG1: Chris Lindstrom

RG2: Germain Ifedi

Lindstrom is one of the biggest bright spots on the Falcons’ entire roster, as the 2019 first-rounder is already one of the top guards in the league entering just his fourth season. Ifedi has played guard and tackle throughout his NFL career, and should provide versatility on the right side of Atlanta’s offensive line.

Right Tackle:

RT1: Kaleb McGary

RT2: Elijah Wilkinson (2)

McGary recently had his fifth-year option declined, all but signaling that 2022 will be his last year in Atlanta. He’s been a starter at right tackle since the start of his rookie year, but has largely been up and down too often for many fans’ liking. 

Wilkinson is much more experienced at right tackle than left, but he’ll provide depth at both. Ifedi can also play right tackle if needed.

In this scenario, Atlanta winds up with 26 offensive players on its 53 man roster, including five wide receivers, four running backs, and four tight ends.

The team still has over three months to trim its roster from 90 players to the 53 they’ll carry throughout the season, but this is an early look at who may be left after the final round of cuts.