Atlanta Falcons: Expectations For New Falcons Defensive Line

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3 – TECH Defensive Tackle

Starter: Ra’Shede Hageman

Reserves: Jonathan Babineaux, Grady Jarrett

One of my favorite players on the team, Ra’Shede Hageman, should see quite an uptick in his snap count going into his second season.

A freak athlete in every sense, the mountain that is Hageman has the potential to be a truly dominant defensive tackle, both as a run stopper and interior pass rusher. At 6’6″, 310 pounds with a 4.97 40-yd dash, he can become a very disruptive force along the defensive line.

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While playing less than 50 percent of the snaps last year, Hageman flashed his sky-high potential at times, especially later in the season. Hageman had multiple blocked kicks and is very good at batting down balls at the line of scrimmage, a la J.J. Watt.

With the ever colorful Brian Cox taking him under his wing, I expect Hageman to stay focused and truly begin to tap into his massive potential. If he proves not to be a head case like he was at times last season, and he doesn’t punch anyone else’s helmet, he could become a cornerstone defensive tackle that could anchor the defensive line for years to come.

Grady Jarrett, one of the biggest value picks in this past draft, brings his fair share of talent to the Falcons defensive line as well. He is similar to a younger Jonathan Babineaux, however he has more upside when it comes to pass rush from a 3-tech.

He will immediately slot in as a key piece along the defensive tackle rotation and can almost instantly fill the void left by Corey Peters. After falling so far in the draft, Jarrett will play with a massive chip on his shoulder and should bolster the pass rush and run defense.

Babineaux is nearing the end of his great career. Something has to be said about playing with one team your whole career and he will most certainly retire as a Falcon. Before that happens though, he still has a couple of quality seasons left in him.

He isn’t as quick anymore, but his endless motor and high football IQ still makes him a valuable rotation piece. Babineaux, and Jarrett alike, give Quinn versatility from his deep defensive tackle rotation and allow him to put multiple schemes onto the field.

Next: Nose tackle and strong-side defensive end