Atlanta Falcons: Best Roster in the NFL?
Recently, Pro Football Focus ranked the Atlanta Falcons’ roster #1 in the NFL.
Of course, this seems obvious to Falcons fans.
However, Falcons bias aside, teams like the Patriots, Titans, and Steelers all have a very good and balanced rosters as well. So what gives the Falcons the edge to be ranked #1?
According to Pro Football Focus and ESPN, Julio Jones is the Falcon’s “Biggest Strength:”
"Julio Jones is the most dominant receiver in the league, almost impossible to cover one-on-one. He led the league in 2016 with 3.12 receiving yards gained per route run, the third time in four seasons he has topped that category."
Also, Pro Football Focused ranked the Falcons offensive line as the sixth best in the NFL:
"The Falcons finished as our sixth-ranked offensive line a season ago, and they’ve replaced by far their biggest issue in right guard Chris Chester. The only problem is that there is no guarantee that Wes Schweitzer or Ben Garland will prove to be an upgrade"
Combine this with Matt Ryan under center and two very good (and very young) running backs in the back field, and it’s obvious the Falcons have an elite offense. The defensive roster is a different story however.
While Vic Beasley, Dontari Poe, and Grady Jarrett make for an intimidating group on the defensive line, there are relatively unproven. Beasley did lead the NFL in sacks this past season, but he did have difficultly forcing pressure consistently. As for Jarrett, he recently broke out in the Super Bowl, but time will tell if he can perform on that level every week in the NFL season. Poe has a history of commanding the middle of the defensive line, but his recent injury history draws some concern.
Also, even though Deion Jones seemed to be performing great for a rookie at linebacker, Pro Football Focus identified De’Vondre Campbell as the Falcons’ “biggest weakness.” However, with Jack Crawford and other linebackers playing in rotation, this hopefully shouldn’t be a big issue and Campbell should improve with another year of coaching.
In the secondary, there are stellar players and question marks all over the place. Desmond Trufant is one of the best lock-down corners in the NFL, but Robert Alford and Jalen Collins have a mix of bright performances and poor play on their resumes.
Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen are very good safeties, but no one knows how players like Brian Poole and Damontae Kazee will fit in the defense next season.
However, even with all of the concerns on defense, the defense is very young as a whole and trending upwards. Dan Quinn and the Falcons front office have drafted very well, setting up Atlanta with a potentially elite defense in the near future.
So, what do you think? Do the Atlanta Falcons really have the #1 roster in the NFL? If not, what position is holding them back?