Breaking down the 2023 Atlanta Falcons training camp roster: Defensive Linemen

Grady Jarrett finally has some complementary pieces around him.
Chicago Bears v Atlanta Falcons
Chicago Bears v Atlanta Falcons / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages

The defensive line was the Atlanta Falcons' weakest unit in 2022. However, in 2023, there have been quite a few new additions to this unit. Only Grady Jarrett, Ta'Quon Graham, and Timmy Horne remain from that unit. The other seven guys added to the unit include bringing Eddie Goldman back from retirement, signing big names like David Onyemata and Calais Campbell, and drafting Zach Harrison to learn from Campbell how to play a specific role in the defense.

Grady Jarrett

Career Stats: 420 Tackles, 66 Tackles for Loss, 32.5 Sacks, 106 QB Hits, 5 Fumbles Forced, 3 Fumbles Recovered, 4 Pass Deflections

Grady Jarrett might be the most underrated interior defensive lineman in all of the NFL. He's shown just how terrific he can be as a pass rusher and run defender shooting gaps and hitting players in the backfield. The new defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen will be his sixth in the league. He started his career in Dan Quinn's scheme run by Richard Smith, then Marquand Manuel took over the reigns in 2017 and 2018 before Quinn took over in 2019. Raheem Morris was the coordinator in 2020 and then Dean Pees has been it for the last three seasons.

Jarrett is the leader of the entire unit both on and off the field. He's one of the best workers in the NFL at his position and can guide the younger defensive linemen to success. Jarrett has the potential to really break out during the 2023 campaign with actual complementary pieces around him and playing in his best role on defense as a 3-technique primarily. He's likely to play 60-70 percent of the snaps on defense again, but with less pressure on him, the Falcons could end up with one of the best interior pass-rush producers in the NFL in 2023.

Role with the Falcons in 2023: Starting defensive lineman

David Onyemata

Career Stats: 244 Tackles, 28 Tackles for Loss, 23.0 Sacks, 63 QB Hits, 1 Interception, 1 Fumble Forced, 2 Fumbles Recovered, 6 Pass Deflections

The Falcons' biggest signing of the offseason might just be David Onyemata. He's a solid run stuffer from the Saints who the Falcons hated to game plan against in prior years. As a pass rusher, he also adds some depth that they have been missing. The Falcons needed to add someone who could attack the interior with Grady Jarrett and Onyemata is a perfect fit for what they need. Onyemata can play a 1-technique nose tackle or a 3-technique under tackle or defensive end as his primary roles.

Onyemata will rotate in and likely play a starter's share of the snaps at the 1-technique role for the team. He'll likely play around 50-60 percent of the snaps for the defense rotating heavily with Grady Jarrett at the 3-technique role and Ta'Quon Graham at the 1-technique role. Onyemata is a fantastic pass rusher who will help translate the scheme for the Falcons defensive linemen after his experience playing under Ryan Nielsen for the last six years. Atlanta might have gotten the steal of the offseason by signing Onyemata when they did.

Role with the Falcons in 2023: Starting defensive lineman

Calais Campbell

Career Stats: 809 Tackles, 165 Tackles for Loss, 99.0 Sacks, 237 QB Hits, 3 Interceptions, 16 Fumbles Forced, 12 Fumbles Recovered, 57 Pass Deflections, Blocked Kicks, 3 Defensive Touchdowns, 2 Safeties

Calais Campbell is one of the best interior pass rushers of all time. He's a six-time Pro Bowl player who has three All-Pro first or second-team nods. He's 42nd all-time on the official sacks list and 64th all-time on the unofficial sacks list. He's a great run defender who sets the edge well as well. The Falcons added him to be a guide for their younger players as well as be a starting defensive end for a team that needed more juice upfront to get after quarterbacks.

Campbell should start at the strong-side defensive end role that will play 5-technique and 6-technique primarily depending on if the defensive alignment is an over or under alignment. He has a ton of experience playing similar roles throughout his NFL career and is a prototype for the position. The Falcons will rely on him to get around 45-55 percent of the snaps at the defensive end spot before rotating him out for third-round pick Zach Harrison or rotating in an edge defender like Lorenzo Carter, Bud Dupree, DeAngelo Malone, or Arnold Ebiketie.

Role with the Falcons in 2023: Starting strong-side end

Ta'Quon Graham

Career Stats: 49 Tackles, 3 Tackles for Loss, 10 QB Hits, 1 Fumble Recovered

The Atlanta Falcons got a fifth-round gem with Ta'Quon Graham. Not only is he athletically one of the best players on the roster for his position, but he's been able to be versatile within the schemes that the Falcons have run. Under new coordinator Ryan Nielsen, the Falcons will deploy Graham as a 1-technique nose tackle, but also as a 3-technique rotational player. Graham fits in well in multiple spots and has shown in 2022 just what his potential could be.

He's got the pass-rush ability to get to the passer regularly and just needs a chance to break out. By the Falcons adding Calais Campbell and David Onyemata, Graham will likely play fewer snaps in pass sets, but he'll be able to get after the quarterback even in base. His run defense might be the best out of any of the interior defensive linemen that the Falcons employ, and he's primed for a breakout year, even if he's not technically a starter for the team. He will likely play 50-60 percent of the snaps as an interior rotational defensive tackle and take some pressure off of Onyemata and Jarrett.

Role with the Falcons in 2023: Rotational defensive lineman

Eddie Goldman

Career Stats: 175 Tackles, 18 Tackles for Loss, 13.0 Sacks, 21 QB Hits, 2 Fumbles Recovered, 1 Pass Deflection, 1 Safety

The Falcons signed Eddie Goldman before the 2022 season to be the nose tackle in base sets for early downs. Goldman sat out the 2022 season as retired but decided before the 2023 season that he wanted to come back to the team. In 2023, he's going to compete with Ta'Quon Graham and David Onyemata for the starting nose tackle role. In all likelihood, he's going to be the rotational nose tackle and might be inactive for around half the games during the season. If Goldman can't come back to his level of play from at least his time with the Bears, he's likely to be cut.

Role with the Falcons in 2023: Rotational nose tackle

Zach Harrison

Rookie Year

Zach Harrison is a uniquely talented defensive end who will come in for the Falcons as a defensive end in any alignment or nickel set they run. He likely is going to be the understudy to Calais Campbell for the specific strong-side defensive end role that new coordinator Ryan Nielsen is wanting them to have in the new scheme. Harrison is a good fit for Campbell's understudy because of his athletic abilities and overall strength. He's got the quickness and arm length to be an effective strong-side end in either the 4-3 or 3-4 under looks the Falcons will employ.

Role with the Falcons in 2023: Rotational defensive lineman

Timmy Horne

Career Stats: 27 Tackles, 1 QB Hit, 1 Pass Deflection

Timmy Horne is the only backup defensive lineman to get retained from the 2022 squad that the Falcons employed. Horne was objectively bad in his snaps for Atlanta as a rookie, but towards the end of the season, he started to show improvement when he played more 3-technique. The Falcons should use him more in that role moving forward as it suits his skillset better. However, he'll have to compete with Grady Jarrett, David Onyemata, and Ta'Quon Graham for snaps at 3-technique in camp, and likely won't be able to beat out any of them. He's likely looking at the practice squad in 2023.

Role with the Falcons in 2023: Competing for a spot on the practice squad

Carlos Davis

Career Stats: 12 Tackles, 3 Tackle for Loss, 1 Sack, 1 QB Hit

Carlos Davis was a seventh-round pick from the Steelers in 2020 and has been a rotational nose tackle since the start of his career. He has a real shot at making the roster if Eddie Goldman can't get back to the guy that he was at the beginning of his career. Davis has a dancing bear profile as a big man with good quickness and would be an athletic upgrade over Goldman on the roster. If Davis can show the same kind of promise as a nose tackle that he showed at Nebraska, the Falcons might just keep him on the 53-man roster.

Role with the Falcons in 2023: Competing for a spot on the 53-man roster

Joe Gaziano

Career Stats: 22 Tackles, 2 Tackles for Loss, 1.0 Sack, 4 QB Hits, 1 Pass Deflection

Joe Gaziano wasn't exceptional for the Chargers in 2022, but he showed enough to earn a signing for the Falcons to compete for a roster spot. He's likely playing a hybrid defensive line and edge role as a pure hand in the dirt defensive end. Gaziano has good power and speed for someone his size, but he has to put together the football production to match his athleticism. Gaziano could end up having a real shot at the roster if someone gets injured, but as of now, he's looking like a guy they would stash on their practice squad.

Role with the Falcons in 2023: Competing for a spot on the practice squad

LaCale London

Career Stats: 22 Tackles, 2 Tackles for Loss, 1.0 Sack, 4 QB Hits, 1 Pass Deflection

LaCale London was excellent in the XFL this past year earning an all-star nod for that league as an edge defender. The Falcons are listing him as a linebacker on their official roster, and he's played more of a defensive end role in his professional career. For the Falcons, he'll likely start as the third-string strong-side end behind Calais Campbell and third-round pick Zach Harrison. That role emphasizes someone who can play 5-technique and 6-technique efficiently, something London has shown he can do at the semi-professional levels.

Role with the Falcons in 2023: Competing for a spot on the practice squad

Albert Huggins

Career Stats: 19 tackles, 3 QB hits

Albert Huggins is a journeyman who's already been on six NFL rosters before coming to Atlanta. He's not overly quick, but he has good arm length and power for a guy his size. He played for Ryan Nielsen the past two seasons but is coming off of a season-ending injury from the 2022 preseason. The Falcons have a deep group here, so Huggins is really competing for a spot on the practice squad on the defensive line. It wouldn't be a shock if he's the seventh defensive lineman on the 53-man roster should the Falcons keep that many.

Role with the Falcons in 2023: Competing for a spot on the practice squad

All advanced stats are courtesy Pro Football Focus or Football Outsiders. All traditional stats are courtesy of official team websites, NFLGSIS or CFB Stats. All RAS and athletic testing numbers are courtesy of and Kent Lee Platte's RAS Football website.