Atlanta Falcons Preseason Depth Chart Takeaways
Veteran at Fullback
Surprisingly, neither of my first picks for the starting fullback are starting. I was sure Luke McNitt or Daniel Marx (cut) would get the nod but the veteran Ricky Ortiz is listed as the starter. Of course, it isn’t final but it’s surprising nonetheless. Both Mcnitt and Ortiz are traditional fullbacks and fit in well with the offense so both are good additions to the offense this year.
Wes Schweitzer Wins the Guard Position
I wrote this off-season (after Mini-Camp) about the possibility of Wes Schweitzer beating out Brandon Fusco for the starting right guard spot. It seems like this has come to fruition as Schweitzer is listed ahead of the off-season signing on the depth chart.
Contrary to popular belief, Schweitzer had a decent year in 2017 but his mistakes caught everyone’s eyes instead of his good plays, as is typical with offensive linemen. According to Pro Football Focus, Schweitzer ranked 39th as a guard last year. It’s not great but considering there are 64 starting guards in the NFL, he wasn’t as bad as everyone made him out to be. It’s possible Fusco beats him before the season starts but Schweitzer has improved a lot this off-season and looks poised to establish himself as a good guard in the eyes of the fans.
Justin Hardy Replaces Andre Roberts
During the off-season, I thought either Justin Hardy or Calvin Ridley would win the starting returner job in the absence of Andre Roberts who left for the Jets. Both took reps this training camp but Justin Hardy was the one who won the job. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ridley eventually wins the job as he gets more acclimated to the speed of the NFL but starting Hardy is a good bet for now.
There are a couple of surprises concerning the position though. First of all, Calvin Ridley is only listed as the backup for kick returner as Marvin Hall is the second string punt returner. That’s surprising to me because at the practices I was at, Ridley had some great punt returns.
— Carlos Whittaker (@loswhit) August 3, 2018
The second surprise is the absence of Ito Smith. He has been taking kicks and punts back for Atlanta during camp and has looked good enough to jump Hall on the depth chart.
— William McFadden (@willmcfadden) August 7, 2018
His good vision, one-cut ability, good speed, and amazing open-field moves would make him a great returner but perhaps he didn’t perform as well as his college tape says he would. Overall, I think Dan Quinn made the right choice here but this could be one of the most fluid positions this year as Atlanta has an abundance of players who can play the position.
Rookie Loses to Veteran at Defensive Tackle
This isn’t a particularly surprising development but I still think it’s worth noting that Terrell McClain beat out Deadrin Senat for the second defensive tackle spot. Grady Jarrett 2.0 is listed behind McClain for the defensive tackle position and so is overall the third defensive tackle on the team. Jarrett has taken him under his wing but is not yet there in the eyes of Quinn. I also expect this to be a fluid position this year because Senat will develop during the season.