Other than Grady Jarrett, the Atlanta Falcons defensive line has been lackluster since the departure of John Abraham.
Inconsistencies in stopping the opposing teams’ ground game and not being able to get pressure on the quarterback have allowed the defense to get picked apart under the last two coaching staffs.
The Atlanta Falcons have a chance to change that perception.
With the moves that the team made in free agency and the draft, they now have the pieces and potential to have one of the best defensive lines in the NFL.
The anchor of this defensive line is Grady Jarrett and using him as the foundation of the entire defense is a great place to start.
Jarrett is one of the few players on this roster that no one within the Atlanta Falcons fan base has to ever question. Even when the defense as a whole isn’t playing the best, Jarrett finds a way to make a crucial stop or even disrupt the opposing offense.
Dante Fowler was a big pick up for the Atlanta Falcons and a definite upgrade over Vic Beasley; a pash rusher who had all the physical tools but didn’t consistently get to the quarterback. Fowler is coming off a season in which be recorded 11.5 sacks playing alongside a dominant defender in Aaron Donald. Luckily for him, he gets to play alongside another one in Jarrett.
No one can question Takk McKinley’s motivation and fire to play in the NFL. Everyone remembers the passionate speech at the NFL draft that got fans fired up about the draft pick. A few years into his career, McKinley hasn’t had the impact that the Falcons expected when they drafted in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft.
The team decided not to pick up McKinley’s fifth-year option which puts the young defensive end at a crossroads. With more help on the defensive line, this will give McKinley a better opportunity to earn that payday from the Falcons.
Marlon Davidson out of Auburn is a player that will have an immediate impact on this defense playing alongside Grady Jarrett. While many were hoping the Falcons would draft Javon Kinlaw or Derrick Brown, Davidson is a very good consolation prize.
There are some things technique-wise that he has to develop but playing alongside both Jarrett and Fowler will help the development of the young defensive player. Davidson should become a cog in the machine that is the Falcons defensive line.
After just 28 sacks in 2020, there is nowhere to go but up for the Falcons defensive line. The pieces are in place to have at least 40, they just have to put it together.