Atlanta Falcons: Pro Football Focus grades for free agency signings
How did Pro Football Focus grade the new Atlanta Falcons signings based on their 2015 seasons?
The Atlanta Falcons made a big splash in free agency over the past week, signing center Alex Mack for a lucrative long-term contract. The Falcons also brought in defensive end Derrick Shelby and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon, who returns to Atlanta after one season away.
Pro Football Focus provide excellent analysis on each NFL player, grading each performance before adding it up into a final seasonal grade and ranking. Let’s take a look at the new Falcons and see how they stacked up against the others in the league at their position.
C Alex Mack
Overall grade: 75.5
Positional ranking: 13th
Alex Mack is a major upgrade on anything the Falcons had at center last year, but was he worthy of the price tag? Atlanta was in a tough spot. Sure, they could take a young offensive lineman in the draft to plug in at center, but this would mean using one of their five precious picks on offense. Instead, they opted to get an experienced option on the market.
Mack is still one of the best centers in the league, but there were whispers when he voided his contract in Cleveland that a team was going to overpay the 30-year-old on the back of his reputation as opposed to what he can still offer. Pro Football Focus tends to agree. His 75.5 grade ranked him 13th among centers in the league in 2015 with a pedestrian 70.8 in pass protection.
Among the names above Mack were the Packers’ Corey Linsley (a fifth-round pick in 2014) and the Lions’ Manny Ramirez, who is still a free agent.
Mack’s deal makes him the highest paid center in the league, but was a younger, cheap alternative a better solution?
DE Derrick Shelby
Overall grade: 82.9
Positional ranking: 23rd
This looks like a strong signing by the Falcons. In need of bolstering the defensive line, Derrick Shelby gives them another option. Of 110 graded edge defenders by PFF, Shelby was No. 23. That’s a respectable position and unsurprisingly, he ranks above any other Atlanta edge defender. Not until No. 51 do you arrive at the next Falcon, Vic Beasley.
Shelby didn’t post eye-popping numbers in 2015 with just 3.5 sacks, but he will help improve an anaemic pass rush while putting in his best work against the run.
LB Sean Weatherspoon
Overall grade: 51.3
Positional ranking: Unranked
This move made a lot of sense. For a bargain price, Sean Weatherspoon will add quality depth at the linebacker position. Injuries have plagued his career, and he was a backup in Arizona last season. The Falcons will still likely address the position in the draft.
Next: Atlanta Falcons: Five first-round options post-free agency
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