JACKSONVILLE — Put on your GM hats!!!
It’s time to project the final 53-man roster. The Falcons have until 4 p.m. on Saturday, but I suspect they’ll get this out of the way today.
By getting the cuts done early, the Falcons will have more time to watch the waiver wire and look for some linemen, possibly a fullback or a linebacker.
We’ve done most of the heavy lifting for you. There are “40 roster locks” listed below.
Here are the pressing concerns as you play Thomas Dimitroff, Scott Pioli and Lionel Vital.
–Will the Falcons keep three quarterbacks?
–Will there be any major veteran cuts?
–Will the team release former second-round pick Peter Konz, who continues to struggle?
–Did wide receiver Freddie Martino do enough to earn a roster spot with that sweet 67-yard TD grab or is he headed to the practice squad?
–Bernard Reedy was on the “All T-Shirts and Shorts” team, but he didn’t do much in pads. Does he make the roster or the practice team?
–Did Gabe Carimi show you enough to keep as a backup?
–Who’s the sixth cornerback? Ricardo Allen or Jordan Mabin?
–How many defensive ends do you keep?
–How many defensive ends who can play linebacker do you keep?
–Does Jacques “You’re not Good enough to be an (bleep) hole” Smith make the team?
Overview: Matt Ryan has had a spectacular exhibition season. T.J. Yates has appeared shaky at times. Sean Renfree has arguably outplayed Yates and earned the No. 2 spot. With the issues on defense, the Falcons don’t have the luxury of keeping three quarterbacks. Perhaps, they can sneak Renfree through waivers and get him on the practice squad.
On the bubble: Yates and Renfree.
RUNNING BACKS (5/6)
Overview: The Falcons need Steven Jackson to have a comeback season. The supporting cast is strong. Signing veteran free-agent fullback Vonta Leach has been discussed.
Locks: Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers, Antone Smith and Devonta Freeman.
On the bubble: Patrick DiMarco.
Longshot: Maurice Hagens and Josh Vaughan.
WIDE RECEIVERS (5/6)
Overview: The top four are set. Courtney Roby and Eric Weems can help on special teams. Bernard Reedy and Geraldo Boldewijn will likely resurface on the practice squad.
Locks: Julio Jones, Roddy White, Harry Douglas and Devin Hester.
On the bubble: Roby, Weems and Reedy.
Longshots: Boldewijn, Freddie Martino and Jeremy Ebert.
TIGHT ENDS (2/3)
Overview: The hope is for Levine Toilolo to become a red-zone threat. Bear Pascoe is a blocker.
Locks: Toilolo, Pascoe.
On the bubble: Mickey Shuler.
Longshot: Jacob Pedersen.
OFFENSIVE LINE (9/10)
Overview: Lamar Holmes has to atone for last season. The Falcons like the depth because the reserves now have NFL experience.
Locks: Jake Matthews, Justin Blalock, Joe Hawley, Jon Asamoah and Holmes.
On the bubble: Ryan Schraeder, Gabe Carimi, Peter Konz, Pat McQuistan and Harland Gunn.
Longshots: Terren Jones, Adam Replogle and James Stone.
DEFENSIVE ENDS (5/6)
Overview: Osi Umenyiora could flourish in his designed pass-rusher role. Jonathan Massaquoi could have a breakout season.
Locks: Kroy Biermann, Umenyiora, Jonathan Babineaux, Massaquoi, Malliciah Goodman.
On the bubble: Stansly Maponga.
Longshots: Jacques Smith and Tyler Starr.
DEFENSIVE TACKLES (5/6)
Overview: Paul Soliai and Tyson Jackson makes the defense strong up the middle. Ra’Shede Hageman is a rotational player for now.
Locks: Soliai, Jackson, Corey Peters and Hageman.
On the bubble: Travian Robertson and Cliff Matthews.
Longshots: Donte Rumph and Nosa Eguae.
INSIDE LINEBACKERS (5/6)
Overview: Paul Worrilow, Joplo Bartu and Prince Shembo are the top three linebackers. Playing behind the hefty tackles, Worrilow and Bartu should be free to smash the opposition’s run game.
Locks: Worrilow, Bartu and Shembo.
On the bubble: Tim Dobbins and Pat Angerer and Yawin Smallwood.
Overview: Second-year players Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford will man the outside, while the team uses a committee approach at nickel back.
Locks: Trufant, Alford, Josh Wilson, Javier Arenas and Robert McClain.
On the bubble: Ricardo Allen and Jordan Mabin.
Overview: William Moore is hoping to return to Pro Bowl form. If Dezmen Southward can stay healthy, he could take over the starting free safety spot.
Locks: Moore, Dwight Lowery, Southward and Kemal Ishmael.
On the bubble: Sean Baker.
Longshot: Kimario McFadden.
Overview: Matt Bryant, Matt Bosher and Devin Hester gave the Falcons a chance to have elite special-teams units.
Locks: K Bryant. P Bosher. LS Josh Harris.
FINAL EXHIBITION GAME: Falcons 24, Jaguars 14