With the primary waves of free agency and the NFL draft well in the rearview mirror, rosters around the league are league are beginning to take shape.
For the Atlanta Falcons, the outside perception isn't positive about the team put together by second-year general manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith, with ESPN ranking the Falcons roster as the second worst in the NFL.
Despite trading quarterback Matt Ryan and losing key players in leading tackler Foye Oluokun and top receiver Russell Gage, Atlanta added several impact players in free agency, including cornerback Casey Hayward. Per ESPN, the addition of Hayward makes the Falcons' cornerbacks room the team's biggest strength.
The cornerback duo of A.J. Terrell and Casey Hayward Jr. could be one saving grace on a roster with a whole lot of question marks. Sixty-five cornerbacks played at least 400 coverage snaps during the 2021 regular season, and no two players in that group allowed fewer receiving yards per game than Terrell (12.5) and Hayward (22.8). Another season like that from Terrell would further cement his status as one of the league's top corners at just 24 years old. - ESPN's Ben Linsey
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For as good as the back end of Atlanta's defense looks, the trenches are still in need of improvement. Despite extending defensive tackle Grady Jarrett, signing free agent outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter and drafting pass rushers Arnold Ebiketie and DeAngelo Malone, ESPN views the defensive line as the Falcons' biggest weakness.
The Falcons' defensive line is in a better spot than it was a season ago. However, it still has the potential to be Grady Jarrett and a bunch of other guys if second-round pick Arnold Ebiketie doesn't hit the ground running. Even Jarrett wasn't quite as effective last season as he has been throughout much of his career. Jarrett's 67.6 PFF grade in 2021 was his first sub-80 grade since the 2016 season (62.7). - Linsey
With Fontenot and Smith stressing that Atlanta's final roster, particularly in the trenches, still isn't in the building, it's possible the Falcons can improve their ranking moving forward. The question management now must answer is how much Atlanta can climb before Week 1.