The Falcons are coming off a great bowl win against Houston and a 8-5 record and a 4th place conference finish. For their spring practices their should be lots of competition as they lose 13 starters. Six offensive, six defensive and a special team player. The special team player is the punter but shouldn't be a big problem to replace as they still have kicker Erik Soderburg. The spring practices start on the 18th of February and end March 17th with no spring game. Lets dive into the offense and defense.
On offense they lose all 5 starting linemen and tight end Sean Quintana, that is rough especially when you are a triple option team who runs the ball all the time. They Falcons rely on their disciplined blocking and I imagine that is exactly what Troy Calhoun and the staff will be looking for. A quick strong blocker who never misses an assignment is a dream for the Falcons, who will look at ten plus different linemen from the roster last year, three seniors, six Juniors, and one sophomore. Their biggest lineman will be Junior A.J. Wallerstein at 6-4 285 which matches their biggest guy from last year. Look for ten plus guys vying for those five starting jobs in a heated competition starting in the spring. One of the Falcons three best recruits, all 3 stars, is offensive lineman Jacob Ehm. I don't think Ehm wins a starting job unless his school ran a similar triple option system but Ehm will certainly be in the mix. Also tight end recruit Sean Craig is a three star that will help ease the loss of Quintana. At the skill positions the Falcons shouldn't miss a beat as they return all their important rushers.
On defense the losses are more spread out with the Falcons losing two defensive lineman, two linebackers, and two defensive backs. The biggest loss is nose guard Ben Garland who was a force in the middle for the Falcons. Good news for the Falcons that one of their top recruits is 3 star linebacker Austin Arias. He should be able to help fill in almost immediately if he takes to the Academy and the defensive system well. Among losing two important defensive lineman the Falcons lose coordinator Tim DeRuyter to Texas A&M. It will be interesting to see how Matt Wallerstedt steps into the main role after being a co-coordinator.
This is purely speculation but you might see a few more pass wrinkles thrown in this year as Tim Jefferson really took hold of the offense near the end of the year. With a whole new offensive line the Falcons could end up with better pass blockers to go along with Jefferson's experience. I am not suggesting they Falcons throw it 30 times, but hopping up from 11.8 passing attempts a game in 2009 to around 14 would only seem to make the Falcons more dangerous on offense. If Calhoun goes that route you will surely see signs of it in spring practice.