Falcons

Is Defensive Tackle the Falcons greatest need going into the draft?

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Looking around at most mocks: the consensus is that the Falcons need to grab a defensive tackle in first couple rounds of the draft. Ed Oliver is a popular choice; Christian Wilkins is my personal favorite, and host of other names pop up in either the first or second round. But after the signing of Tyeler Davison, is defensive tackle still among the Falcons top needs?

Davison inked a one-year deal with the Falcons on Saturday. He spent the last four years with the Saints after being drafted in the fifth-round of the 2015 draft. Davison isn’t a player who is going to pressure the passer often, recording 3.5 sacks in 61 games but his effectiveness against the run is what allowed him to start in 48 games for the Saints. He will provide a valuable presence on early downs and is a viable starting option.

All-Pro defensive end, Cameron Jordan, was not too happy about watching his former teammate head to a division rival.

The addition of Davison gives the Falcons four reliable defensive tackles on their current roster: Grady Jarrett, Deadrin Senat, Jack Crawford, and Tyeler Davison.

Jarrett, who is stellar against the run and even better at rushing the passer from the interior, can play on any down. Jack Crawford had a marvelous 2018 after missing nearly all of 2017. He adjusted to the defensive tackle role and recorded a career-high seven tackles for loss and six sacks. Senat isn’t much of an option on passing downs, but he did reliably plug holes when on the field as a rookie. The third-round pick out of South Florida will be worth monitoring in year two. Quinn could make him an integral piece to the Falcons run defense, or he could fall even further back on the depth chart with the additions of Davison and a draft pick, which is a red flag coming from the coach that drafted him.

The Falcons could use another defensive tackle. Outside of Jarrett, there is no telling what they might get out of the other three. And looking beyond 2019, the Falcons might not even have Jarret if they cannot work out an extension with him this offseason. Jack Crawford and Tyeler Davison will also be free agents at season’s end, so Atlanta needs to find a body that can fit next to Grady Jarrett in the long-term or perhaps even one that replaces him.

But is defensive tackle the Falcons most glaring hole going into 2019? That would be a stretch. Atlanta could get by this year with the group that they currently have and figure out a way to extend Grady Jarrett and possibly Jack Crawford if he continues to build on his 2018 campaign. The area that has to be the focal point in the first three rounds is on the EDGE.

The Falcons currently have a group of Vic Beasley Jr., Takk McKinley, Adrian Clayborn, and Stephen Means at the defensive end position. That’s an underwhelming bunch heading into 2019 and looks even worse in 2020. Vic Beasley, Adrian Clayborn, and Stephen Means are all set to become free agents. The Falcons, unequivocally, have to draft someone on the EDGE they can rely on this year and in the future. Without one, it’s difficult imagining the Falcons pass rushing woes going away anytime over the next few seasons.

 

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