Breaking down the post-draft Falcons depth chart on offense 2024

The Atlanta Falcons offense isn’t quite a finished product yet, but it’s getting close. Atlanta has the quarterback position sorted, have running back pretty locked down, and probably are only set to make tweaks to wide receiver, tight end, and the offensive line between now and the season opener.

Breaking down the post-draft Falcons depth chart on offense
Breaking down the post-draft Falcons depth chart on offense

That makes it a fine time to check in on the likely depth chart for offense, which hasn’t changed significantly since the 2024 NFL Draft. Free agency brought aboard a few starters and key depth pieces, and all that remains is to shore up depth unless the Falcons badly want to upgrade wide receiver further. I’d be more than okay if they did, but with limited dollars and likely a limited appetite for cracking open contracts to free up 2024 space, I doubt they will.

Let’s take a closer look at where things stand here in early May.


Starter: Kirk Cousins

Backup: Michael Penix

Competing for a spot: Taylor Heinicke, John Paddock

Cousins is the starter, so long as he’s healthy. Heading into 2024, the Falcons are hoping to win, and Cousins gives them the best shot of doing so with his mixture of experience, excellent accuracy, and quality arm and instincts. The weapons on hand and a strong line in front of him ought to put Cousins in a position to have a terrific season, and even if his time in Atlanta looks more short-lived than it did a short time ago, this is the season where he’s expected to wreak havoc.

I wrote in a pre-draft look at the depth chart that drafting someone like Michael Penix would push Taylor Heinicke off the roster, and now we’re there. Heinicke may hang on to a roster spot, but I’d pencil Penix in as the backup to Cousins and his obvious heir apparent. The fact that he’s a lefty makes getting into games with Kaleb McGary as his blindside protector a bit of a dicey proposition, but unless the team views that as a major liability or Penix simply isn’t ready in their eyes, he’ll be next man up.

Heinicke is easy to cut, though the Falcons get very little out of doing so. As an eager and capable runner with scattershot accuracy, he’s not an easy fit for a Zac Robinson offense that prizes accuracy and steady work in the pocket, but he has drawn praise from the Falcons brass recently and should at least compete to stay.

Paddock is a camp arm, and if he’s particularly lively, could wind up on the practice squad.

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Running back

Starter: Bijan Robinson

Backup/Complement: Tyler Allgeier

Competing for a spot: Jase McClellan, Avery Williams, Carlos Washington, Ray-Ray McCloud (kinda)

Robinson showed more than a few glimpses of his electric potential last year, and with a year of refinement for his route running, pass catching, and pass protection, he could be genuinely special on a more regular basis this season. He’s the unquestioned starter and a big part of the offense.

Allgeier has been told by coaches that he’ll have a real role, but his power and all-around usefulness will keep him on the field and make him a workhorse if anything should happen to Robinson. He’s excellent insurance and will likely be used as a short yardage hammer and early down options at times even when Robinson is healthy.

McClellan is likely your third back. A player who does a little bit of everything you’d want a third running back to do, McClellan’s well-rounded game and likely day one readiness would make him a nice addition, even if he’s not going to play much.

If Williams is healthy, his work as one of the league’s better punt returners should keep him on this roster. He’ll make a couple of big plays as a runner, but will probably finish the season with a limited number of snaps on offense. McCloud may also get a couple of runs, alongside Rondale Moore.

Washington is now a roster longshot, given that he was hanging around from the last regime but didn’t make much of an impact for them, and given that the team drafted McClellan. A good summer could land him on the practice squad.

Your only fullback under contract, Robert Burns, will get the job if the Falcons don’t add anyone. That’s uncertain at this point.

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Wide receiver

Starters: Drake London, Darnell Mooney, and Rondale Moore

Reserves: KhaDarel Hodge, Casey Washington, Ray-Ray McCloud, Josh Ali, Chris Blair, Austin Mack

London is your obvious top dog in this passing game, and his ability to win contested catches, strong work at every level of the field, and largely untapped ability to fight for extra yardage figure to conspire for a true breakout season. He’s going to eat, and he’s hungry.

Mooney is your #2, with game-changing speed and an opportunity to be a fearsome deep threat in this Atlanta offense with London and Pitts occupying so much attention underneath. A home-run hitter eager to prove the last couple of years of more limited production were owing to the presence of D.J. Moore and a disastrously designed passing game than his own ability, Mooney is a nice fit for an offense that badly needed his wheels.

Moore should be penciled in as the third receiver, but that’s not necessarily a lock. Fast and dangerous when he does get the ball, Moore was a limited contributor in Arizona, which means this addition is more about his potential upside as a slot guy than his history of production. Given that he’s also put in some effective work as a runner, Moore could be a fun gadget guy even if he settles in as a reserve, but for now I’d expect him to join Mooney in creating downfield headaches for defenses.

Hodge is likely your fourth receiver at the moment, though he’ll need to hold off a rookie to keep the job. A solid, physical receiver who can work outside, Hodge’s special teams value is what keeps him here, but the occasional stretches of useful work as an option in the passing game don’t hurt either.

Washington is the man to watch. Drafted by the new regime and possessing excellent hands and solid size, the rookie could push his way into the WR4 role, which could mean some work outside when the Falcons want to kick Mooney into the slot. He’ll need a very strong summer to ensure that, though.

McCloud is nominally a receiver but won’t top WR6 on the depth chart if everyone’s healthy, and Ali, Blair, and Mack are competing for practice squad spots at this point unless they can push Washington or Hodge off the roster.

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Tight end

Starter: Kyle Pitts

Backup/complement: Charlie Woerner

Reserves: John FitzPatrick, Tucker Fisk, Austin Stogner

This is one position that changed very little, even after undrafted free agent signings, which tells you how settled things are for Atlanta.

Pitts is going to be expected to be a lethal receiving threat for Atlanta, one who joins with London, Mooney, Moore, and Robinson to create a hellish environment for opposing pass defenses. Hopefully fully healthy heading into 2024 and with a quarterback who has the accuracy to make better use of his skills, Pitts should have something of a breakout year this season, and it could be hugely impressive if he becomes a Kirk Cousins favorite.

Woerner, meanwhile, will also have a sizeable role. A plus blocker with limited utility as a pass catcher, Woerner will be expected to help out in pass protection and pave the way for Robinson, Allgeier, and so forth out of the backfield. The Falcons won’t use a ton of two tight end sets if Zac Robinson’s history with the Rams is any indication, so early down work for Woerner is on the way at the expense of Pitts, potentially.

The third tight end role will go to one of FitzPatrick, Fisk, or Stogner, barring a signing, and I’d bet on FitzPatrick at the moment given the little bit of upside he has as a receiving option. Whoever gets the job will likely be relegated to special teams duties initially.

Offensive line

Starters: LT Jake Matthews, LG Matthew Bergeron, C Drew Dalman, RG Chris Lindstrom, RT Kaleb McGary

Reserves: T Storm Norton, C/G Ryan Neuzil, C Jovaughn Gwyn, T John Leglue, T Barry Wesley, T Ryan Swoboda, T Tyler Vrabel, G Kyle Hinton, T Kyle Coll, T Nolan Potter

Things are quite settled at the top of the depth chart. Matthews and McGary are your bookend tackles for the sixth straight season, with Matthews continuing to provide above average pass protection and solid work as a run blocker, and McGary doing underrated work in pass protection and serving as a force in the ground game.

On the interior, Bergeron will be expected to take the leap in his second season, and if he does this line should be among the league’s best. Dalman is a weak link in pass protection who is a stellar run blocker, while Lindstrom is very simply one of the league’s best guards. Bergeron and Dalman have to be able to keep Cousins clean, but otherwise this line is in great shape.

Right now, the only two players you can pencil in as reserves are Norton and Neuzil. The former did impressive work as a fill-in for McGary last year and figures to have an inside track to the swing tackle job, while Neuzil didn’t play particularly well but is young, tough, and can play both guard and center in a pinch.

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Beyond that, there’s one-to-two spots up for grabs and quite a few players vying for those roles. Gwyn was last year’s seventh round pick as a potential center reserve who can play guard, and if he has taken concrete steps forward after being mothballed his entire rookie season, perhaps he’ll make it. Leglue, Wesley, Swoboda, and Vrabel are all contending for tackle spots, with Leglue putting solid work on tape in limited reps last year, Vrabel getting a bit of playing time, and Wesley offering a lot of positional versatility. Hinton’s really solid work as a fill-in last year might help him make the roster, but there’s a bit more of a logjam on the interior that could conspire to push him to the practice squad.

Finally, there’s Coll and Potter, a pair of undrafted free agents who will push for reserve tackle roles. The fact that they’re new to the team with a new coaching staff at least makes them players to watch for practice squad spots, and Coll’s size and strength makes him particularly intriguing.

This offense should be very solid at the absolute worst, though depth questions still linger outside of quarterback and running back. The team’s major investment in quarterback in the draft won’t pay off immediately and their other draft additions are depth pieces, but hopefully they’ll be able to play small but significant 2024 roles.

While there are many battles ahead, the most consequential ones are likely WR3/WR4, TE3, and depth spots along the offensive line, which means your starters are pretty much settled. That’s good news for a Falcons team that stumbled badly on offense a year ago, and the hope will be that we finally get the high-flying, high-scoring unit we’ve been waiting for in 2024.

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