The Atlanta Falcons enter 2022 without Matt Ryan under center since 2007. Arthur Smith enters his second year as head coach with a rebuilding team. There is young talent to build on that will make the Falcons interesting in 2022. The NFC South is a tough division but the building blocks are there for a young Falcons squad.
QB: Marcus Mariota, Desmond Ridder, Feleipe Franks
The Falcons enter the 2022 season without Matt Ryan at quarterback since 2007. It is a transition period for this franchise. Mariota was picked up in the off-season for another chance at a starting job while Desmond Ridder was drafted in the third round with the shot of being the QB of the future.
It is uncertain the ultimate plan going into this year will be, Mariota will most likely start a good chunk of the year. I’m terms of where the Falcons are in their rebuild, this is a good quarterback situation.
However, for competing in the NFL, there will be some pains that come in 2022. Progress and patience is going to be huge for Atlanta this season and moving forward into the future.
RB: Cordarrelle Patterson, Damien Williams, Tyler Allgeier, Qadree Ollison, Caleb Huntley, Avery Williams, Keith Smith
Patterson accounted for over 1,100 all purpose yards due to his ability to run and catch. He was a wide receiver playing running back and it caused many problems for defenses. He is back in 2022 and looking to expand on his 2021 season.
Damien Williams has always been a solid number two option. He has averaged over four yards per carry in each of the last three seasons. Tyler Allgeier is a rookie from BYU where he had 1,600 rushing yards last season. This is a solid RB room which will help out these quarterbacks a ton.
WR: Drake London, Bryan Edwards, Olamide Zaccheaus, Auden Tate, Damiere Byrd, KhaDarel Hodge, Cameron Batson, Frank Darby, Geronimo Allison, Jared Bernhardt, Stanley Berryhill III, Tyshaun James
Drake London is the highlight of this group as he was a top 10 pick in the NFL Draft this past season out of USC. He is a big receiver that is incredibly athletic. Once he gets comfortable at the next level he should easily be an impactful receiver.
Edwards was a solid receiver for the Raiders last season having 571 yards. Zaccheaus had 406 yards but will have an elevated role this year. Tate had a 2019 season that saw him have 575 yards in 12 games but has been stuck in a talented rotation the past couple of years so the fresh start should help him out.
Overall, this is a relatively unproven group that is given the chance to show themselves as capable starting receivers in this league.
TE: Kyle Pitts, Anthony Firkser, Parker Hesse, John FitzPatrick
Pitts was everything Atlanta could’ve asked for from their number three overall pick from a year before. He had over 1,000 yards receiving and received a nod to the Pro Bowl in his rookie year.
The goal for Pitts this year is to replicate a form of that success with much more inexperienced quarterback play. It will be tough but his ability will greatly help out his quarterback. Firkser has always been a quality TE2 who will serve well behind Pitts in this room.
OL: Jake Matthews, Jalen Mayfield, Matt Hennessy, Chris Lindstrom, Kaleb McGary, Elijah Wilkinson, Justin Shaffer, Drew Dalman, Germain Ifedi, Tyler Vrabel, Jonotthan Harrison, Ryan Neuzil, Colby Gossett, Rick Leonard
Matthews is a solid tackle and Lindstrom is one of the leagues best guards since entering the league in 2019. However, this line had big holes in 2021. McGary allowed 9 sacks and 10 hits a season ago from the other tackle spot.
Mayfield gave up 11 sacks and 21 hits as a rookie. The Falcons will hope that number can improve but that needs to drastically improve. Ifedi comes in and will compete at tackle. He has had his struggles but is experienced and can deliver good tackle play. This is a group that is overall going to need to improve in 2022 to help out their inexperienced quarterbacks.
DL: Marlon Davidson, Ta’Quon Graham, Grady Jarrett, Nick Thurman, Eddie Goldman, Derrick Tangelo, Bryce Rodgers, Vincent Taylor, Anthony Rush, Timmy Horne
Grady Jarrett headlines this group after signing his three year extension this off-season. Jarrett is a consistent present on the inside that causes havoc and makes tackles. Davidson has only played in 19 games in his two seasons and only made 29 total tackles. He will need to step up in 2022.
Graham is going into year two and is going to have a much expanded role in this unit. Eddie Goldman comes over from Chicago as another veteran presence with Jarrett. Goldman has had success in this league and will be a solid contributor and mentor for the younger guys.
Ultimately, this position group has very young guys with not much experience that will need to step up in 2022.
LB: Arnold Ebiketie, Deion Jones, Rashaan Evans, Lorenzo Carter, Adetokunbo Ogundeji, Mykal Walker, Troy Andersen, DeAngelo Malone, Quinton Bell, Nick Kwiatkoski, Dorian Etheridge, Jordan Brailford, Kuony Deng, Rashad Smith, Nate Landman
Ebiketie was a second round pick from Penn State in this year’s draft and he brings a pass rushing presence off the edge for Atlanta. His development and overall skill will be paramount to this unit’s success. Carter brings good pass rushing potential as he had 5 sacks and 50 tackles with the Giants a season ago.
The Falcons lost the league leader in tackles in Oluokon to the Jaguars and will need to replace his 192 tackles. Deion Jones has struggled as he was graded 81st out of 87 linebackers in 2021.
Troy Andersen was drafted in the second round out of Montana State and he is a tall, athletic backer that will compete to play starter snaps this season. A lot of eyes will be on the rookies in Andersen and Ebiketie to see how this position group does in 2022 and how it will be moving forward into the future.
CB: AJ Terrell, Casey Hayward Jr, Isaiah Oliver, Dee Alford, Mike Ford, Cornell Armstrong, Corey Ballentine, Lafayette Pitts, Darren Hall, Richie Grant
Terrell and Armstrong make up for one of the better CB duos in the NFL. Terrell was ranked 2nd of all CB and Armstrong 12th. Having a quality cornerback room is essential for teams with the way the NFL has gone to a pass heavy attack.
The depth behind these two is pretty thin though. Oliver has gotten quality reps and is a solid backup. However, there is not much experience beyond that so health of the top two is going to be important. Others will need to step up when their name is called.
S: Dean Marlowe, Erik Harris, Teez Tabor, Jaylinn Hawkins, Tre Webb
Marlowe got significant safety snaps last season with Detroit and had 67 total tackles but he does not have a ton of starting experience. Harris played 12 games last season and had 64 tackles.
Tabor is a former second round draft pick that hasn’t totally worked yet with a team but Atlanta is hoping a change of scenery will help him rebound his career. This is a very inexperienced group with not many snaps under their belt. People are going to need to step up and prove themselves as quality safeties in this league.