Falcons 2023 NFL Draft Big Board: Interior Defensive Line

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The Falcons have significantly beefed up their defensive line, but as the Philadelphia Eagles showed, you can never have enough talent or depth in the front seven. They still need bodies in case of injuries or poor performance, as well as to set them up for the future. Today I’ll be covering interior defensive linemen; edge rushers will get their own edition of this series. I have some names on this list I’ve previously talked about in my offseason mock draft series linked below:

Previous editions of this series are listed below:

I’ll be evaluating players by multiple criteria. I like to mainly focus on traits and intangibles. Since we don’t get access to one-on-one team interviews and medicals, unfortunately, I just have to do my best in that aspect. Additionally, I’ll be doing prospects the Falcons may not be in range for. For example, even though Will Anderson Jr. likely won’t be available with the 8th overall pick, I’ll act as if the Falcons could trade up to pick any player.

I’ll also be referencing Relative Athletic Score, which is a number from 0 to 10 that combines athletic scores from the combine, with 10 being the best. If you want to check it out, click the link here. Let’s get started!

Current Rostered Interior Defensive Linemen

DL Grady Jarrett

DL David Onyemata

DL Calais Campbell

DL Eddie Goldman

DL Ta’Quon Graham

DL Joe Gaziano

DL Timmy Horne

DL Jalen Dalton

The Falcons finally have some depth and talent on the defensive front, but I’m never against adding some help for Grady Jarrett or new additions Calais Campbell, Eddie Goldman, and David Onyemata. The more the merrier, especially if it’s a superstar caliber prospect.

11. Keondre Coburn — Texas

Coburn is a massive man at 6’2 and 343 pounds. The Texas Longhorn is your classic space eater, but he’s pretty quick for his size and has a high motor. He can eat up blockers up the middle, and he’s a guy teams will value as a plug-and-play space eater in the later rounds of the draft.

RAS: 5.15

10. Byron Young — Alabama

The Senior from Tuscaloosa had a good week in Mobile, and he has a lot of things teams will be looking for in the later rounds of the draft. He’s physical with double teams at the line of scrimmage, and he has some upside as a pass rusher. He may end up as a pure run defender in the NFL, but he can be a pretty good one.

RAS: 5.17

9. Jaquelin Roy — LSU

Roy’s a good athlete on the interior, and he really helped Ali Gaye and BJ Ojulari shine for LSU. He has the body and burst you want for a guy on the interior, but he’s very raw as a pass rusher and in general. He’s a project, but one that could pay huge dividends if developed properly.


8. Siaki Ika — Baylor

I really liked Ika going into the combine, but he was disappointing in Indy to say the least. His athleticism and versatility shows on tape, but he had a really poor showing in Indy. I can’t slot him any lower than this, however. He has good size and strength for the position, but he needs to work on his leverage and overall plan at the point of attack. Guys with bad combines have been stars in the NFL before, so I’m not writing him off just yet.

RAS: 2.60

7. Gervon Dextor Sr. — Florida

A big winner from the combine, Dexter is a big-time upside play for someone on day two of this draft. He shows some serious flashes, and his athletic upside combined with his frame will get a number of NFL teams to buy in on his future. His motor is a concern, and his technique needs some work, so he’s going to be one of those guys NFL teams will have to do their homework on. If he truly “loves football,” he can be a monster at the next level.

RAS: 9.69

6. Keeanu Benton — Wisconsin

One of the best pure run-stuffing nose tackles in college football last year, Benton has plug-and-play potential for any team that needs a big body up the middle. His pass rush technique needs work, but he’s a powerful man up the middle that can eat up blocks and cause a lot of chaos on run downs. He showed some good agility at the combine, so I like his upside.

RAS: 8.85

5. Zacch Pickens — South Carolina

A Senior Bowl standout, Pickens is one of my favorite late day two/day three options in this draft. Pickens moves really well for his size, and he consistently won his one-on-ones in Mobile. He’s a physical freak that can stuff the run and has upside as a pass rusher — coaching will be key for him.

RAS: 9.18

4. Mazi Smith — Michigan

I’m buying stock in Mazi Smith because he should be an immediate impact run defender from day one. He has the ideal size and length you look for to develop into a real force up the middle as a pass rusher as well. He moves incredibly well for a 340 pound defender, and if his technique can be refined by the right coaching staff, the sky is truly the limit for this kid.


3. Bryan Bresee — Clemson

One of the best athletes in this group, Bresee had an impressive career at Clemson, especially as a space-eater. He gobbles up blockers and can disrupt the pocket up the middle and defend well against the run. Injuries are a concern, but he has a lot of upside in the back half of the first round. He tested really well in Indy, so if you trust his medicals, he’s well worth a roll of the dice.

RAS: 9.58

2. Calijah Kancey — Pittsburgh

What Kancey may lake in prototypical size, he makes up for with a red-hot motor and versatility across the defensive front. He’s very technically sound, and you can tell he has really worked on his craft as a pass rusher and run defender. His frame is a concern, but the 2022 ACC Defensive player of the year is a guy to watch in the right scheme. If he can overcome his size issues, he’s going to be a fantastic player in the NFL.


1. Jalen Carter — Georgia

I think Carter’s off the field issues are behind him, and it’s still obvious when you turn on the tape that he’s the best player in this group and potentially in this entire draft class. Carter is a violent, physical player who has rare athleticism for his size. His upside is sky-high, and with the right coaching staff, he has multiple-time All Pro written all over him.


Photographer: Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire

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