Falcons trying to replicate Rams’ success with drafting pass rushers

NFL: JAN 23 NFC Divisional Round Rams at Buccaneers

Coming into the offseason, the Falcons‘ roster needs were obvious and at the most important positions in the game.

The most important one was completely overhauled. Atlanta signed Kirk Cousins to the largest free agent contract of the NFL offseason and then followed it up by using their top pick on Michael Penix.

Regardless of your opinion on the process, the Falcons answered the bell in overkilling the quarterback position.

The next most pressing roster need was receiver and quickly after agreeing to a deal with Cousins, Terry Fontenot brought in Darnell Mooney. The only thing left to address was the pass rush, which many expected to come with Atlanta’s top draft pick.

As we know, that didn’t come to fruition, but the Falcons spent their next three picks bolstering the defensive front, and it’s clear what their vision looks like — the Los Angeles Rams.

Raheem Morris came from LA to Atlanta and hopes to bring some of that magic with him. Unlike the Falcons, the Rams have had a ton of success in recent years, but nobody expected them to make the postseason in 2023. They exceeded expectations because of a stellar rookie class, headlined by Puka Nacua.

However, the Day 3 diamond in the rough is hardly the only great pick from the Rams’ 2023 draft class. Second-round pick Steve Avila established himself as an immediate starter on the offensive line, but this story is about Los Angeles’ third-round picks — Kobie Turner and Byron Murphy.

Turner finished third in the Defensive Rookie of the Year race thanks to his nine sacks, which led all rookies and matched a Rams franchise record that was set by Aaron Donald. In total, he finished with 57 tackles, eight for loss, 16 QB hits, and two passes defended along with those nine sacks.

Young wasn’t far behind his classmate, though. He finished with eight sacks, second among all rookies, while posting 61 total tackles, eight of them for loss, to go with 18 QB hits and two forced fumbles.

The Falcons pass rush has been a weakness for as long as I can remember, but if Raheem Morris can replicate the success in Atlanta that he had in LA, we should all be confident in Ruke Orhorhoro, Bralen Trice, and Brandon Dorlus.

Orhorhoro lined up everywhere from the zero- to nine-technique for the Clemson Tigers last season, thanks to his freakish athleticism. Despite his lack of college production, the excitement surrounding Orhorhoro derives from his movement skills and sheer power. Think of him as a ball of clay. If Raheem Morris and his coaching staff can help him along quickly, look out.

Trice was Atlanta’s third-round pick and is almost the opposite of the team’s second-round pick. He doesn’t have as impressive of an athletic profile as Orhorhoro, but he had a ton of production at Washington, leading the nation in pressures last season. The Falcons are getting another versatile defender who should be able to assume multiple roles.

The most interesting out of the three is the one who went on Day 3 of the NFL Draft. Dorlus is smaller than your traditional defensive tackle but is bigger than a traditional outside linebacker. However, much like Ruck Orhorhoro, he can move up and down the line of scrimmage and may be the best pass rusher of them all. He tallied 46 total pressures and 11 QB knockdowns in 2023.

If two of the three can emerge next to Grady Jarrett, David Onyemata, Arnold Ebiketie, and the other Atlanta defensive linemen, the Falcons pass rush may no longer be a weakness.

Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire

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