Cover 9@9: Depth chart - all rookies to the back of the line

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

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Falcons' GM and coach discuss the team's 2022 draft.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

After Jarrett’s extension, the Falcons now have $15.7 million under the salary cap

(Here are our nine items each Wednesday at 9 a.m.)

1. The no-spin zone: All of the rookies, drafted and undrafted, go to the back of the post-draft depth chart line.

While doing the post-draft full roster review, it’s easy to arrive at the conclusion that the Falcons have a lot of options to improve the offensive line.

Germain Ifedi, a former first-round pick, has started 83 games. He has played tackle and guard on the right and left sides.

Elijah Wilkinson has played tackle and guard for the Broncos and the Bears, making 27 NFL starts.

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The Falcons must solidify right tackle, left guard and center, and by drafting Georgia guard Justin Shaffer in the sixth round (190th overall), they have another candidate.

By signing two experienced guards and drafting one, the Falcons could move Jalen Mayfield back to right tackle, which was his natural position. He looked lost at times at left guard during his unforgettable rookie season (11 sacks allowed, nine penalties).

Let Mayfield, Kaleb McGary, Ifedi and Wilkinson fight it out for right tackle once left guard is settled.

The center battle is between Drew Dalman and Matt Hennessy. The Falcons tried to rotate Dalman in last year.

“Well, we are looking for players that have that kind of makeup and that compete that way,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said. “And so it’s not just – we always say makeup. We are not just talking about good human beings, good people, we want guys that get on the football field and fight and compete.”

The Falcons believe they found some of those players in the draft.

“So when you’re looking for those types of guys, every single one of them – I don’t know if you said Drake London, that guy has a chip on his shoulder,” general manager Terry Fontenot said. “Every single one of them. Our head coach has a chip on his shoulder. You look around the building, the staff, every day we come in with something to prove.”

2. Local flavor: The Falcons drafted three players from metro Atlanta: Shaffer (Cedar Grove), outside linebacker DeAngelo Malone (Cedar Grove) and tight end John FitzPatrick (Marist).

“That’s not by design, and yet there’s so much homegrown talent here,” Fontenot said. “And same thing after the draft, and once we start working on that ‘eighth round,’ hopefully we get some more.

“But when you go through the pool of prospects, there’s a lot of good football that’s played here. We talked about high school games that we want to go to and we want to go because, when you go to high school games here, you’re going to be watching players that are going to be playing on Sunday.”

When they got to the “ninth round” Monday, the Falcons cut two local players: running back Mike Davis (Stephenson) and outside linebacker James Vaughters (Tucker).

“When you go through that process, naturally, whether they play at one of the local schools or – but there’s a lot of homegrown talent here, and we are excited to get some in the building,” Fontenot said.

ExploreGrady Jarrett gets 3-year contract extension with Falcons

3. Locals day: Fontenot was stunned that the media didn’t have the full list of locals-day participants like we’ve had in the past, pre-COVID-19. Hopefully, that will change in 2023.

It was noted that Georgia linebacker Nakobe Dean was at the locals day along with others, whose agents told us they attended.

Sometimes, that’s the last time that one of the local players will have a football activity at the Falcons’ locals day.

4. Happy 10th anniversary: After the draft, the Falcons had a party for the scouting department.

They had a nice cake for scout Tokunbo Abanikanda, who was celebrating 10 years with the team.

Abanikanda, who was the lead scout on Kyle Pitts in 2021, is a native of Atlanta who played linebacker at Southern Miss and Osborne High.

After going undrafted, he attended Tampa Bay’s rookie camp and had a tryout with the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League. He has been with the Falcons since 2012.

Fontenot gave all of the area scouts a shoutout.

“It’s the total picture, that first boots on the ground, area scout that’s in that building,” Fontenot said. “They are talking to everyone in the building. They are watching them in practice.”

ExploreGeorgia’s Nakobe Dean to ‘fully participate’ in Eagles’ minicamp

5. How do they practice: Smith has a couple of items he likes for the scouts to gather.

“Arthur wants to know, hey, how does he practice,” Fontenot said. “Right, because it’s not just about guys that you don’t flip the switch and do it in a game. You have to do it every day.”

Credit: WSBTV Videos

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Falcons select Montana State linebacker Troy Andersen with No. 58 pick

Credit: WSBTV Videos

6. Tyler Allgeier’s bowl game: When asked about running back Tyler Allgeier’s 276 carries last season, Smith directed us to his performance against Alabama-Birmingham, in the Independence Bowl.

“Watch that bowl game he played,” Smith said. “That will tell you everything you need to know about him. That will answer that.”

The former walk-on rushed for 1,601 yards and 23 touchdowns last season for BYU.

“His production this year, you’re right, his production was unreal,” Smith said. “He’s been a productive player, but this season it went to another level.”

7. Undrafted players: Here’s a list of the undrafted players signed:

WR Jared Bernhardt (6-1, 195), Ferris State

WR Stanley Berryhill (5-11, 190), Arizona

OLB Kuony Deng (6-6, 240), California

CB Matt Hankins (6-0, 181), Iowa

S Brad Hawkins (6-0, 207), Michigan

DL Timothy Horne (6-4, 323), Kansas State

WR Tyshaun James (6-2, 214), Central Connecticut

ILB Nate Landman (6-2, 238), Colorado

DL Bryce Rodgers (6-2, 309), UC-Davis

DL Derrick Tangelo (6-1, 296), Penn State

P Seth Vernon (6-5, 230), Portland State

OL Tyler Vrabel (6-6, 315), Boston College

TE Leroy Watson (6-5, 275), UT-San Antonio

8. Salary-cap savings: Grady Jarrett’s contract extension lowered his salary-cap number from $23.8 million to $12.9 million for the 2022 season, creating $10.9 million in salary-cap space.

The Falcons now are $15.7 million under the salary cap.

9. Falcons’ depth chart: Here’s a look at the current “unofficial” depth chart after the draft. All rookies to the back of the line:

OFFENSE

WR – Cordarrelle Patterson, Frank Darby, KhaDarel Hodge, Drake London, Stanley Berryhill

TE – Kyle Pitts, Ryan Becker, Brayden Lenius, Leroy Watson

LT – Jake Matthews, Tyler Vrabel

LG – Jalen Mayfield, Colby Gossett, Rashaad Coward, Justin Shaffer

C – Matt Hennessy or Drew Dalman

RG – Chris Lindstrom, Drew Dalman, Ryan Neuzil

RT – Kaleb McGary, Germain Ifedi, Elijah Wilkinson, Rick Leonard

TE – Anthony Firkser, Parker Hesse, Daniel Helm, John Raine, John FitzPatrick

WR – Olamide Zaccheaus, Auden Tate, Damiere Byrd, Austin Trammell, Chad Hansen, Jared Bernhardt, Tyshaun James

RB – Cordarrelle Patterson, Damien Williams, Qadree Ollison, Caleb Huntley, Tyler Allgeier

FB – Keith Smith

QB – Marcus Mariota, Feleipe Franks, Desmond Ridder

DEFENSE

DE – Grady Jarrett, Marlon Davidson

NT – Vincent Taylor, Anthony Rush, Ta’Quon Graham, Timothy Horne

DE – Nick Thurman, John Cominsky, Bryce Rodgers, Derrick Tangelo

OLB – Lorenzo Carter, Jordan Brailford, Arnold Ebiketie

ILB – Deion Jones, Dorian Etheridge, Nate Landman

ILB – Rashaan Evans, Mykal Walker, Troy Andersen

OLB – Adetokunbo Ogundeji, Quinton Bell, Rashad Smith, DeAngelo Malone, Kuony Deng

LCB - A.J. Terrell, Darren Hall, Mike Ford, Corey Ballentine, Cornell Armstrong, Lafayette Pitts, Matt Hankins

FS (Left) – Jaylinn Hawkins, Erik Harris, Brad Hawkins

SS (Right) – Richie Grant, Teez Tabor, Luther Kirk

RCB – Casey Hayward, Isaiah Oliver, Kendall Sheffield, Avery Williams, Dee Alford

SPECIAL TEAMS

K – Younghoe Koo

P – Dom Maggio, Seth Vernon

LS – Liam McCullough

H – Dom Maggio

PR – Avery Williams

KOR – Cordarrelle Patterson, Avery Williams

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