The Falcons haven’t had a ton of success in the draft under the new regime. Much of Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith’s first draft class has dissipated, and some new information has come to light that’s quite concerning about Ta’Quon Graham.
The fifth-round pick was a healthy scratch the past two weeks against the Texans and Commanders. After a breakout campaign ended prematurely with an MCL injury in Week 11, Graham was expected to be a part of the defensive line rotation.
He’s only played about a quarter of the defense’s snaps, despite being a starter next to Grady Jarrett last year. The reason for it isn’t going to please Falcons fans.
“I think it goes back to practicing,” Jerry Gray said, via Daniel Flick of Sports Illustrated. “What are you doing in practice that’s going to allow you to get on the field? And I think that’s one thing that every person has to go through. When you look at yourself and say, ‘Am I practicing as hard as I can? Am I doing what I need to do?’ And if you are, then you know what? You go in there and state your case.”
The Falcons went out and bolstered Graham’s position group, adding David Onyemata and Calais Campbell to the defensive front. That certainly plays a part in Graham’s lack of playing time, but he was still expected to be a rotational piece behind the starting unit.
“I think (defensive coordinator) Ryan (Nielsen) and Arthur always talk about competition and what are you doing during the week,” Gray said. “The biggest thing is getting guys to understand that you’re constantly being evaluated on what you do in practice. One of the things that we’ve shown is if you practice, you’re probably going to get what you get in the game, and if you go out there and don’t practice well, you’re probably going to get what you get in the game.”
Ta’Quon Graham is competing with Albert Huggins, Joe Gaziano, Zach Harrison, and Eli Ankou for snaps as Onyemata, Campbell, and Jarrett assume most of the defensive front’s snaps. Huggins has seemingly taken those directly away from Graham, who is facing a potential career-defining fork in the road.
Depending on how he responds, the Falcons could once again see themselves parting ways with another member of the 2021 draft class or welcome back a young ascending talent along the defensive interior.
Photographer: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire