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Atlanta Falcons starting lineup projection
Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer
Quarterback (Matt Ryan): He has thrown for 4,000-plus yards and 26-plus touchdowns in each of the past four seasons.
Running back (Devonta Freeman): The second-year player had a combined 95 touches (65 rushes, 30 receptions) as a rookie.
Fullback (Collin Mooney): This newcomer has four career starts in 14 NFL games and brings special teams value to the Falcons.
Julio Jones had 104 receptions for 1,593 yards last season. AP Photo/John Bazemore
Wide receiver (Julio Jones): The two-time Pro Bowler set a franchise record with 1,593 receiving yards last season despite missing one game due to injury.
Wide receiver (Roddy White): White should maintain his starting role, but Leonard Hankerson could see more time on the field when it's all said and done.
Tight end (Jacob Tamme): Peyton Manning has been his quarterback in six of his seven NFL seasons with the Colts and Broncos.
Left tackle (Jake Matthews): The 2014 first-round pick is expected to make a full recovery from Lisfranc ligament (foot) surgery.
Left guard (Chris Chester): The veteran has 111 career starts through nine seasons with the Ravens and Redskins.
Center (Joe Hawley): He might not be 100 percent while continuing his recovery from an ACL and MCL repair in his right knee.
Right guard (Jon Asamoah): The second-year Falcon will have to adjust to getting out and running in the new outside-zone blocking scheme.
Right tackle, Ryan Schraeder: This former undrafted player has the potential to develop into a solid starter for years to come.
Defensive end (Tyson Jackson): The former third overall draft pick is trying to silence critics by dropping weight to fit the scheme.
Defensive tackle (Ra’Shede Hageman): He is expected to be a solid contributor in his second season, if he can overcome inconsistency.
Nose tackle (Paul Soliai): The ninth-year veteran is not the ideal fit for this defense, but the Falcons have to find a way to utilize his massive body.
Defensive end (Malliciah Goodman): The long-armed, athletic young player should contribute most against the run in the base defense.
*LEO (Vic Beasley): The rookie first-round pick has the speed and athleticism to reach double-digits sacks as a situational pass-rusher.
*Defensive tackle (Jonathan Babineaux): Going into his 11th season with the team, he’ll be counted upon to aid the pass rush from inside.
*Defensive tackle (Adrian Clayborn): The former first-round pick of the Buccaneers has to remain healthy in order to make an impact.
*Defensive end (O’Brien Schofield): Former Seattle Seahawk brings a champion’s attitude to the locker room along with speed off the edge.
Strongside linebacker (Brooks Reed): He was signed as a free agent from the Houston Texans for his high motor and ability to stop the run.
Middle linebacker (Paul Worrilow): He led the team in tackles the past two seasons (142, 127) and is focused on becoming more of a playmaker.
Weakside linebacker (Justin Durant): The veteran has the potential to be the team’s true defensive leader but has to remain healthy first.
Cornerback (Desmond Trufant): The rising star should become a perennial Pro Bowler based on his overall coverage skills.
Cornerback (Robert Alford): He showed outstanding competitiveness during the offseason and just needs to cut down on penalties during the season.
*Cornerback (Jalen Collins): The long, physical rookie talent could evolve into the ideal press corner once up to speed and recovered from foot surgery.
Strong safety (William Moore): His full recovery from major offseason shoulder surgery will be a key factor as he sets the tone with his physical style.
Free safety (Ricardo Allen): The converted cornerback was the surprise of the offseason with his rise to a starting role over veteran Charles Godfrey.
Punter (Matt Bosher): He booted a career-high 66-yard punt last season.
Kicker (Matt Bryant): The reliable, 15-year veteran has a streak of 38 consecutive field goals from within 50 yards.
Long snapper (Josh Harris): Former undrafted player and college walk-on has found his niche in the NFL.
Kick/punt returner (Devin Hester): The Pro Bowler set a new NFL record last season with his 20th career touchdown return.
*Indicates player is likely to be in the lineup in the nickel defense.
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