The Atlanta Falcons have a high power offense, and it’s without argument that it will be strong again this year. But the questions are on the defensive side, and the defense will have to show they’ve finally turned the corner and are traveling away from their poor play.
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This year, there are more new faces, as Thomas Dimitroff and company have turned on the revolving door and ushered in more talented players.
Headlining these new players are Adrian Clayborn and Brooks Reed, who look to become the anchors that we have scrambled for years to have. But will they ever find someone to plug the holes that opposing offenses have gapped with ease?
And out of the guys they brought in, who will have the most success?
A potentially great prospect out of Iowa, Clayborn had all the intangibles that led every scout drooling over their notepads. Quick, fast, strong and intelligent, it seemed like a lock Clayborn would become a perennial all-pro, and Tampa appeared to have stolen a prized player at pick No. 20.
Sep 7, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Adrian Clayborn (94) celebrates after a sack during the third quarter against the Carolina Panthers at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
But after his selection, lackluster performances have led to him being considered yet another first round bust.
Clayborn’s time for the Bucs hasn’t been great as he’s only averaged 33 tackles and three sacks per year while trying to legitimize his selection.
Unfortunately for him, his talent has been put to no use, making him a free agent steal for the Falcons as they didn’t have to shell out the trucks for his payday. But what can truly be expected from this player who has been underwhelming his entire career?
Placing Clayborn in a new system was just what the doctor ordered as Dan Quinn and company will capitalize on player’s abilities and place them in a position to succeed.
Everyone knows that J.J. Watt will be the headliner from around the league on defense, as he is head and shoulders above everyone else.
But when you can put a player that has mostly the same skill set and is faster than Watt, it isn’t unheard of to think that this is a platform Clayborn had hoped for his whole career, and superstardom is attainable and more achievable than most think.
Clayborn is the anchor that is needed for this defense and he will guide this into more of a strength for the Falcons. So as you see him chasing down ball carriers and making plays in the backfield, he could easily become the force that was taken a few years ago.