William Moore and Thomas DeCoud were guys who elevated their games during the 2012 season; both safeties ended up going to the pro bowl that year. Moore came up with four interceptions on the year and DeCoud added six more as they formed one of the best safety tandems in the league that year.
Jonathan Babineux stepped up at time as well in 2012. Babineux was one the better defensive tackles the Falcons had on the team at the time and was consistent at keeping the lineman off of the linebackers; Jonathan Abraham was by far the best defensive lineman on the team in general but ended up getting hurt in the playoffs. Babineux had a crucial fumble recovery against the Seahawks in the divisional round.
In 2019 the Falcons are relying on their draft picks from previous drafts to step up just like Sam Baker, Julio Jones, William Moore, Thomas DeCoud, and Jonathan Babineaux. Five players that need to step up in 2019 are Desmond Trufant, Calvin Ridley, Takk McKinley, Vic Beasley, and Devonta Freeman.
Desmond Trufant had solid seasons with the Falcons in his early years with the team. He was regarded as one of the top young corners in the league during the 2014 and 2015 seasons covering the number one receivers on other teams. Some fans would call Trufant Mr. Invisible as sometimes you forgot he was on the field because of his coverage. In 2016 Trufant missed the second half of the season to a shoulder injury and has not looked the same since. He played well enough to be a starting corner in 2017 and 2018, however, he needs to get back to his 2014-2015 level of play.
For 2019, Trufant has to have a big year. The Falcons are relying on second round pick Isaiah Oliver to be the starting corner opposite of Trufant. Oliver will likely have his ups and downs in 2019 so Trufant has to step up this season.
Takk McKinley is another guy who needs to step up for the Falcons in 2019. Generally, most Falcons fans have the confidence McKinley will step up, however, his inconsistent play and ability to crack the starting lineup is starting to make many think he has reached his potential already. Takk has one of the best motors in the entire league and we all know we do not have to question Takk’s work ethic. I am predicting he is going to step up in 2019 with a 10+ sack season; Takk has even challenged himself to get double-digit sacks. Can he stay off twitter long enough to get there?
Finally, Vic Beasley has had so many up and down moments with the Falcons throughout his career, however, this is his final make or break year with the team. Falcons chose to exercise his fifth year option to prove it once and for all.
In 2016, Beasley led the league in sacks with 15.5. A player does not get that many sacks on accident the talent is clearly there he just needs to step up. In 2017 his transition to linebacker hurt his development as a pass rusher but he has the talent to have 10+ sack seasons every year.
If you are looking for a reason to have faith in Vic Beasley just look at Braves Shortstop Dansby Swanson. Just like Vic, Dansby had one really good year and just has not hit his potential. So far in the 2019 season, Swanson has looked really good with the Braves and tied with Ronald Acuña in home runs on the season. If Vic can elevate his play in 2019, like Dansby, watch out for the Falcons defense.