Las Vegas Raiders v Atlanta Falcons
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As predicted, Julio Jones is "outta there." The Atlanta Falcons traded the future Hall of Fame receiver to the Tennessee Titans in exchange for draft picks, and that ends an era in North Georgia while blowing the door open for the potential beginning of another -- considering the Falcons selected highly-touted tight end Kyle Pitts with the fourth-overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. No one knows what Pitts will be at the NFL level, but if he is as advertised, opposing defenses are in just as much trouble at the professional level as they were in facing him during his days with the Florida Gators.

Pitts will need help, however, and he'll have it -- be it from Calvin Ridley and Hayden Hurst, and/or Russell Gage and newly-added running back Mike Davis. The Todd Gurley experiment didn't work out in 2020, but Davis joins the Falcons by way of the rival Carolina Panthers and is hellbent on making sure Atlanta has a respectable run game that will allow Matt Ryan more time to cook.

So who gets the nod when it's time to cut down the roster to 53? It's only June, but we'll give you our best guesses. 

Offense (25)

Position
StarterBackupDepth
QB Matt RyanFeleipe FranksA.J. McCarron
RB Mike DavisQadree OllisonTony Brooks-James
FBKeith Smith

WR Calvin RidleyOlamide Zaccheaus 
WR Christian BlakeCordarrelle Patterson
WR Russell Gage
Frank Darby
TE Hayden HurstKyle PittsLee Smith
LT Jake MatthewsMatt Gono
LG Willie WrightJalen Mayfield
C Matt HennessyDrew Dalman
RG Chris LindstromJosh Andrews
RT Kaleb McGary

It's the Pitts

Julio Jones is now gone and it'll primarily be on receiver Calvin Ridley and fourth-overall pick Kyle Pitts to headline the passing attack for Matt Ryan. They'll have solid help from Russell Gage and tight end Hayden Hurst, both of whom have proven they can produce, but no one can outright state the production lost in the trade of Jones will somehow be instantly replaced. Players will have to step up in their respective roles, which will make things very interesting for a Falcons offense that Ryan himself admitted would be weird without Jones in the mix. And as far as Ryan goes, his contract restructure was a vote of confidence by the Falcons but general manager Terry Fontenot also wants to develop someone behind him -- a key reason I don't see Feleipe Franks being a roster casualty. For my money, those scissors would go to A.J. McCarron instead, unless Fontenot feels he'd be more comfy in 2021 with some experience behind Ryan, without having to cut Franks loose in the process. 

Defense (25)

Position
StarterBackupDepth
DE Jacob Tuioti-MarinerJonathan BullardTa'Quon Graham
DLGrady JarrettMarlon DavidsonDeadrin Senat
DLTyeler DavisonJohn Cominsky
DE
Dante Fowler Jr.Barkevious MingoAdetokunbo Ogundeji
LBDeion JonesBrandon Copeland
LBFoyesade OluokunMykal Walker
CB Kendall SheffieldDarren Hall
CB Isaiah OliverFabian Moreau
CBA.J. TerrellAvery Williams
SJaylinn HawkinsRichie Grant
S Erik HarrisDuron Harmon

New coach, new plan

Dan Quinn is now with the Dallas Cowboys, and he took assistant Joe Whitt, Jr. with him. In making such changes, the Falcons added Dean Pees as defensive coordinator and he'll enter this summer trying to figure out who the big dogs are at all three levels of his defense. Former first-round pick A.J. Terrell flashed in 2020 but also took more than his fair share of rookie lumps, although he presumably has help on the way in the form of rookie defensive back Richie Grant, among others. If the Falcons can get a push up front and if their linebacker corps is improved, things get much easier for Terrell and his defensive back compatriots. They'll truly have to grind to make sure Pees' first year isn't like the final one of Quinn and defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, and competitions are already heating up at every position. 

Special teams (3)

PositionStarterBackup
K Younghoe Koo
P Sterling Hofrichter 

LS Josh Harris
KR/PRAvery Williams