George Henry of TSN wrote:
Expect the depth chart to shuffle considerably at safety before the season opener. SS Keion Carpenter is listed as the starter entering camp, but his durability issues mean that he must have an outstanding preseason just to make the team. Carpenter lacks the speed necessary to contribute on special teams, so FS Kevin McCadam and SS Ronnie Heard will earn the benefit of doubt when final decisions are made. The team will carry no more than five safeties, and FS Bryan Scott is a lock to make the roster. Scott's longer-than-expected recovery from shoulder surgery, however, could sideline him until the season opener and give Etric Pruitt a chance to earn a job. A sixth-round pick last year, Pruitt bounced between the roster and practice squad a few times, but he played in just three games and was inactive for nine others. Pruitt's upside is because of improved strength, conditioning and, most importantly, coverage skills. Another player will take his roster spot if Pruitt doesn't improve his tackling and earn a role on special teams. Re-signing Aaron Beasley, who plays corner and safety, could happen if other plans backfire. Another possibility is to re-sign Travaris Robinson, who tore his ACL and missed all of last season. Beasley and Robinson both have more upside than Rich Coady.
SCOUTING REPORT: Rookie DT Jonathan Babineaux is everything coaches and scouts hoped, and everyone is eager to see how the second-round pick performs in pads. Playing behind an elite pass-rusher such as Rod Coleman will give Babineaux time to develop. If Babineaux plays well enough and improves his footwork against the run, he would have an outside chance to beat out starting NT Chad Lavalais. Babineaux uses a sound tackling technique and will learn to play both DE and DT positions, just as Lavalais did last year as a rookie. But the team is more concerned with Babineaux's performance against the run, an asset that Lavalais used last year to earn five starts.
COACH UNDER PRESSURE: Entering his third year with the team's receivers, George Stewart needs his corps to make significant gains. The personable Stewart doesn't have job security issues, mostly because head coach Jim Mora and offensive coordinator Greg Knapp worked smoothly with him in San Francisco and neither had major problems with him last year. Because both of Peerless Price's first two unsuccessful seasons came under Stewart's watch, critics might say the position coach plays a bigger role than guilt-by-association. That could be, but Price can't afford another slow start if he's going to hold off Michael Jenkins. The team selected Roddy White and Jenkins in the first round the past two years, so Price's time is numbered. Stewart has gotten all he can out of Dez White and Brian Finneran, but his future will depend a lot more on the performance of White and Jenkins than the production, or lack thereof, that Price provides this year.
INSIDE DISH: Rich McKay deserves credit for authorizing a huge contract last year on Rod Coleman and drafting a potentially elite cornerback in DeAngelo Hall, but it's no coincidence that the Atlanta president and G.M. made his decision after taking advice from pro personnel director Les Snead and scout Ray Farmer. Since February, the Falcons have lost two top-level members of the front office in Tim Ruskell and Ron Hill, and McKay has yet to fill either position. College scouting director Phil Emery pulled the strings on a nice-looking draft, so he's a candidate to take Ruskell's role as a director but not necessarily as an assistant G.M. Snead's competence essentially made Hill, the former V.P. of football operations, nonessential, so it would be little surprise if McKay promotes Snead into Hill's former job and Farmer into Snead's current position.
TIGHT ENDS ANALYSIS: Grade: B+. Alge Crumpler is elite, but Dwayne Blakely could surprise given his offseason work ethic and improved grasp of the playbook. Eric Beverly blocks well, but he can't catch and has durability issues.
Henry seems to think that Carpenter's job security is not as safe as it would seem. He seems to believe guys like Harris and McCadam have one up on him because of their ST abilities, but I don't think the Falcons would like either of those players to be the dime back this year. I think Carpenter is not guaranteed a roster spot, but even if he loses his starting job, he should still remain, because the team has to love his versatility. He's really the only one on the team besides Scott with the experience to make the defensive calls. Harris has worked with Mora before, and McCadam has experience, but I don't think the coaching staff would be happy if either were in there to replace Scott if he went down for a period of time.
I think his comments about Blakley are interesting. Blakley had a supposedly awesome camp in Tennessee last year, beating out highly touted 2nd round pick Ben Troupe, but the team couldn't cut Troupe for Blakley. But then he took a lot of time to adjust to our offense and really made little impact, particularly in the games where Crump was out last year. But this year, I'm expecting bigger things. We really need him to step up since Beverly is no receiver and it would severely hinder our offense if we have no pass catchers at TE if Crumpler was out.