The Falcons have been one of the most active teams in free agency and have a slew of new players that each bring valuable skill sets to the team. I’ve already talked about what Jonnu Smith brings to the offense; now, we’ll move on to what Kaden Elliss brings to the defense.
The former Saints defender signed a three-year deal worth about $7 million annually with $11 million guaranteed. Over his first three NFL seasons, Elliss assumed more of a reserve role, contributing primarily on special teams but broke out in a big way last year.
He was asked to do little of everything for the Saints in 2022 and posted impressive numbers — 68 total tackles, seven sacks, two forced fumbles, and two pass deflections. Former co-defensive coordinator in New Orleans and current defensive coordinator in Atlanta, Ryan Nielsen, used him in many ways, including as an off-ball linebacker and along the defensive front on the edge and interior. It’s the main reason he chose Atlanta in the first place.
“I didn’t really want to go somewhere I’d be put into a box,” Elliss said, via the team’s website. “[I can] do multiple things that I think allows me to impact a game in a more dominant way. So, knowing that I was going to [be reunited] with coach Nielsen, and knowing how he has coached defense, and how he has coached me personally the last four years was a huge factor.”
Falcons fans can expect Elliss to assume a similar role under Nielsen in Atlanta. It’s certainly possible that he assumes a role on the line of scrimmage, but the depth chart points toward him playing next to Troy Andersen on early downs. On third downs, we will see all of the exotic looks from Nielsen, where Elliss can be lined up across the defensive front.
“Some of the snaps may have logged me defensive end, some of them I may have been at a linebacker mugged up in the B gap,” Elliss said, via the team’s website. “That’s one of the things I kind of liked about coach Nielsen, is how he has that history in his background and how he helped put together the third-down plan over there [in New Orleans]. I was excited to follow him and work with him in this [defense].”
Elliss was asked to do just about everything for the Saints last season and was productive in every area. He is a more than solid run defender and a surprisingly good pass rusher. Six of his seven sacks came in the final seven weeks. The Falcons are a perfect place for Elliss to display his versatile skill set. There are a few roles he could play, but he’s eager to go wherever his coordinator tells him.
“I can play on the line, outside linebacker, inside linebacker,” Elliss said, via the team’s website. “I know I have some things I can sharpen, but I have some pretty good traits, my hand usage, block destruction and pass rush.”
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