Sep 27, 2014; Clemson, SC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Marquise Williams (12) is brought down by Clemson Tigers defensive end Vic Beasley (3) during the second quarter at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
“LEO” Defensive End
Starter: Vic Beasley
Reserves: O’Brien Schofield, Kroy Biermann
As we all know, the Falcons took Clemson edge rusher Vic Beasley with the eighth overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. He will immediately upgrade the pass rush and is an instant starter at Dan Quinn’s LEO position. His lightning quick first step and arsenal of pass rushing moves will give left tackles fits once he adjusts to the speed of the NFL.
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
A lot has been made about Beasley being a poor run defender, but within this scheme he should be able to focus on setting the edge and keeping the running back inside the tackles.
Beasley will have to get better at run defense, so that could eat into his playing time early on, but his pass rushing prowess will still earn him a lion’s share of the snaps at LEO.
Coming over in free agency from Seattle, O’Brien Schofield brings valuable experience in Coach Quinn’s defense at both end spots. He has had knee problems in his career, causing him to fail a physical during the 2013 free agency.
While that is a cause for concern going forward, he figures primarily to be a rotational pass rusher, probably getting no more than 35 percent of the snaps. He is still a versatile edge rusher who can thrive with a smaller share of the snaps.
Kroy Biermann has become a so-called swiss army knife because of his ability to play multiple roles, just like Schofield. I, like many, am not the biggest Biermann fan, but he should never have been asked to play a full-time role. In a reduced role, he can be a very useful addition to the team.
He can also play both end spots, as well as some outside linebacker. However, most of his snaps can be expected to come from the end positions, spelling Beasley on run downs until he becomes a solid run defender.
Quinn has also tossed around the idea of getting Prince Shembo some snaps at LEO, and that may well happen. However, Shembo has a skill set that fits well at the SAM position where he can apply pressure from the strongside.
Beasley is the crown jewel in Quinn’s pass rusher collection though, and his snap count at the LEO spot should allow him to push for double digit sacks.
Next: Defensive tackle