3. Defensive Line
After six straight years of top ten yards allowed by the defense from 2014-2019, that side of the ball has fallen off a cliff and it all comes down to a lack of a complement to DT Grady Jarrett. An outside threat would be most ideal.
Pre-Free Agency Team Needs: https://youtu.be/-oQWC6aI02s
Key FA: OLB Lorenzo Carter, ILB Rashaan Evans, OT Kaleb McGary
Check out our initial EDGE review here: https://youtu.be/o8f-iy1w6k0
Depth Chart Fantasy Impact
From 2008 through 2021, QB Matt Ryan started all but 3 of Atlanta’s 225 regular-season games. An offseason trade to Indianapolis has ended that, though. Instead, veteran Marcus Mariota and 3rd-round rookie Desmond Ridder will compete for the starting job.
Mariota signed a 2-year, $18.75 million deal in free agency, but that includes just $6.75 million in guarantees. The contract suggests Atlanta views Mariota more as insurance over the next 2 years than the clear answer even for 2022.
Ridder spent 4 years starting at Cincinnati, finishing his run with career highs in passing yards, yards per attempt, TD throws and passer rating. The Bearcats also made the FBS playoffs in Ridder’s senior year. He has already been lauded for his football IQ in Falcons workouts.
The backfield returns Cordarrelle Patterson as likely leader, though coach Arthur Smith has indicated that he wants to move Patterson around the formation more after the team re-signed him. Atlanta dumped RB Mike Davis, adding 5th-round RB Tyler Allgeier and veteran journeyman Damien Williams in his place. Allgeier spent the past 2 seasons leading BYU’s backfield after arriving as a walk-on. Williams – who turned 30 in April – compiled 40 carries and 23 targets in 1 season with the Bears after sitting out 2020 over COVID concerns.
The WR corps lost Calvin Ridley to suspension and Russell Gage to free agency, leaving immediate opportunity for 8th overall pick Drake London. The former USC Trojan was averaging a whopping 11 receptions and 135.5 yards per game as a 2021 junior before fracturing his right ankle.
Though technically a TE, Kyle Pitts operates more like a wideout and looks like the best bet to lead Atlanta in targets this season. The Falcons shed #2 TE Hayden Hurst from last year, replacing him with former Titans TE Anthony Firkser. The team also traded for WR Bryan Edwards and added WRs Auden Tate, KhaDarel Hodge and Damiere Byrd.
The Falcons return all 5 offensive-line starters from a unit that fared well in run-blocking last season but graded 2nd-worst at stopping pass rushers, according to Pro Football Focus.
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