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NFL Draft

TDN Scouting: Better Roster – Cardinals or Falcons?

  • The Draft Network
  • August 19, 2020
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It seems like the 2020 NFL Draft just happened, but we move fast here at The Draft Network.

Currently going through summer evaluations for the 2021 NFL Draft class, our scouting team of Kyle Crabbs, Joe Marino, Jordan Reid, and Drae Harris are meeting up every day to discuss prospects, traits, and concepts. New to TDN is a daily scouting roundtable where we go through and identify the most important points of conversation from that day’s meeting.

This week, we continued our NFL roster conversations and had a debate about who has the better roster: Atlanta or Arizona?

Arizona Cardinals

Coming off of a promising 2019 campaign, Arizona has relatively high expectations this season, especially after they acquired star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in the offseason. Still, their success seems dependent less on their roster as a whole, but rather quarterback Kyler Murray.

Given this, our staff took Murray out of the equation and tried to see how the Cardinals would stack up without the quarterback position as a factor. 

Harris’ Thoughts

“They’re definitely in (the top 20),” Harris said. “With the addition of DeAndre Hopkins and Kenyan Drake toward the end of last season, I think they have a lot of talented weapons offensively. Of course, Chandler Jones is—and has been—one of the best pass-rushers in the league with 19.5 sacks last year (too). I would definitely put them near the top (of the second half of the league).”

As for some of the team’s weaknesses, Harris pointed out a few spots on the defensive side of the ball, including off-ball linebacker and perimeter pass-rusher.

“(Arizona) doesn’t have an EDGE opposite Chandler Jones so that’s a problem,” Harris noted.  

“They signed Devon Kennard in free agency who had seven sacks in each of the past two years, but I don’t think he’s a viable long-term solution.”

Bottom Line

“Even if you take Murray (out of the equation), you still have Hopkins, Fitzgerald, Kirk, and plenty of skill guys,” Harris stated. “The offensive line played much more consistently (in 2019 than 2018) and Kenyan Drake is going to be a very viable weapon, especially with the three-receiver sets and light boxes he’ll face. I really only have concerns about EDGE, IDL, and their LB unit on the inside. You’d be hard-pressed to find a middle-tier team with more talent.”

Atlanta Falcons

It seems like ages since Atlanta’s infamous Super Bowl collapse, but it truly wasn’t that long ago. Armed with a lot of the same pieces that were a part of that deep playoff run, the Falcons simply haven’t been able to stay healthy, which has led to multiple losing seasons.

With this in mind, our staff took a look at the current team in place and evaluated everything besides quarterback Matt Ryan.

Marino’s Thoughts

“I think around (20) is the right range for (Atlanta)” Marino said. “You start on the offensive line and you have two really good pieces in Alex Mack and Jake Matthews. On the defensive line, they have a couple of quality players (too). Grady Jarrett is one of the better interior defensive linemen in the game and Dante Fowler gives them an (outside) pass-rusher for the first time in a while.”

As for some of the team’s weaknesses, Marino highlighted a few of the offensive line positions, as well as bringing up the off-ball linebacker and perimeter cornerback spots.

“Left guard is going to be a bit of a concern, but they’re probably going to roll with James Carpenter there,” Marino noted. “On the right side, they need those two first-round picks to work out: Chris Lindstrom, who’s coming back from the foot injury, and Kaleb McGary, who started 16 games but struggled. Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley, now that’s pretty special, but they don’t have much behind that. (Atlanta) doesn’t have much to pair with Deion Jones at the second level either.”

Bottom Line

“You can look at this roster and find a lot of difference-makers,” Marino stated. “There are concerns here and there, but they’ve got talent.”

The TDN Verdict:  Arizona over Atlanta

Despite the Falcons having a better depth chart than some give them credit for, our entire scouting staff was in full agreement that Arizona has a better roster (excluding QB) entering 2020.

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