Falcons host free agent pass rusher over the weekend


If there’s one area that needs to be addressed before the NFL Draft, it’s the Falcons pass rush.

It’s been an issue for most of my life, especially in recent years. There are intriguing prospects that continue to be linked to Atlanta à la Dallas Turner, Jared Verse, and Laiatu Latu.

They seem to be keeping an eye on the free agents though, because over the weekend, the Falcons hosted James Smith-Williams, who spent four seasons with the Commanders.

The 26-year-old is nothing more than a rotational piece but adding any kind of depth would be welcomed.

Still, you’d like it to be a little bit more of a proven commodity. In 2022, Smith-Williams put up three sacks and 16 quarterback hits, which were both career-highs, while playing 60% of Washington’s defensive snaps. That’s not exactly needle-moving production.

He’s a solid contributor who can be a plus run defender and depth. That’s it. It’s not even close to enough.

It seems like the Falcons are adding veterans at positions of need, which is to be expected to a certain extent. Antonio Hamilton is a good example. Cornerback is a unit that needed to be bolstered, but adding a guy with a little bit higher upside would’ve been encouraging.

James Smith-Williams is that same kind of player. The Falcons sit here and refuse to add to the pass rush with premier players. At this point, it feels like the best case scenario for Atlanta’s pass rush is Calais Campbell returning and one of Turner, Verse, or Latu becoming a significant contributor in their rookie season.

It seems like a whole lot of hope and prayers. For a team with Kirk Cousins on a short-term deal, that’s not exactly ‘win-now’ decision making.

Photographer: Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire

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