It's pretty amazing how much the secondary has transformed in just a short amount of time. What was an area of weakness for the Falcons only a couple of seasons ago now has become a great secondary with several promising players. If the Falcons can improve their pass rush, expect these guys to be the ones who profit.
Projected Depth Chart:
1. Brent Grimes
2. Chris Owens
1. Williams Moore
2. Rafael Bush
1. Thomas DeCoud
2. Schann Schillinger
1. Dunta Robinson
2. Dominique Franks
Luckily most of the secondary is under contract for at least the next couple of seasons. Grimes is a restricted free agent, but I'm willing to bet all of my money (not alot) that he will be back next season. However, if the Falcons want to keep him long term, it would probably be best to work out the big extension he's due this season.
The only guy who is likely gone is veteran CB Brian Williams, who as I've said earlier is almost guaranteed to be gone. Williams was a solid guy when we signed him, but now that the Falcons have two legitimate starters there's really no need for him.
As of this point, the Falcons only have four cornerbacks on the roster, but I expect that to change. The Falcons could definitely use a veteran guy to supplement the position, and one could easily be signed via free agency.
There's also a slight possibility that the Falcons look for another backup safety as well. Schillinger and Bush aren't exactly prepared to start a game should one of DeCoud/Moore get injured, so it couldn't hurt to sign another vet for insurance.
Better yet (and this would be a very Dimitroff-esque move), the Falcons could simply sign someone versatile enough to play both safety and corner. Free agent DB Danieal Manning could be a great option, having played at both nickelback and free safety for the Bears over the last couple season.
In 2010, Grimes' fantastic play locked himself in as the team's top CB, and he also established himself as a top-10 player at his position. I see no reason why he won't continue to play at a high level, and hopefully this is a guy who'll be a Falcon for a long time.
Opposite of Grimes, the Falcons have Robinson, who came over via free agency after signing a six-year, $57 million contract. He really was very consistent in his play, and the Falcons certainly missed him when he wasn't on the field (see: Eagles game, second half). For a No.2 corner, he's one of the better ones in the NFL.
Those two will be backed up by Owens and Franks. For Owens, 2011 will be a "put up or shut up" kind of year. He needs to show the team that he can at least handle nickelback duties. Franks, who I believe could surprise some and win the nickel spot, will continue to improve in his second year.
At safety, we have two great draft picks in DeCoud and Moore. DeCoud has been the more rounded, consistent of the two, and though his pass coverage is iffy at times he's still a quality starting free safety. He'll be backed up by Schillinger, the sixth-round pick out of Montana who served mostly as a special-teamer last year.
Then we come to Moore, who I absolutely love. Starting in his second season, he showed both his big-hit ability in the run game and his great instincts in defending the pass. Simply put, he's a playmaker who will only continue to improve with experience. Behind him is Rafael Bush, who spent most of 2010 on the practice squad. He's a very athletic, raw talent, but in my opinion he would be better on the practice squad for another year.
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