What is the best case scenario for Falcons pass rush in 2024?

NFL: NOV 10 Falcons at Panthers

The Falcons sit here a few weeks away from the NFL Draft with championship aspirations.

That much has been made clear. A team doesn’t hand a 36-year-old quarterback coming off an Achilles injury a contract worth $180 million if they don’t see themselves as contenders.

Whether you or I believe the Falcons are actually contenders doesn’t matter. Arthur Blank, Terry Fontenot, and Raheem Morris are telling you what they believe.

The roster is in good shape to do that, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Cousins is a clear and obvious upgrade over what the Falcons got out of the quarterback position last year, and the receiving core was upgraded. Not only is Darnell Mooney an improvement over what Atlanta last season, but getting a healthy Kyle Pitts back can be seen as an acquisition in and of itself.

However, the defense leaves a lot to be desired, particularly the pass rush. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, the Falcons pass rush is going to be a weakness again this season.

It’s crazy that a team can have such a poor facet of its team and do absolutely nothing to fix it. Right now, it seems like the club is sticking with the status quo, so what is the best case scenario for Atlanta’s pass rush in 2024?

Well, we can begin internally. Arnold Ebiketie is coming into his third season with massive expectations to shoulder the load of this unit. The former second-round pick put up six sacks and 16 pressures while taking 34% of the defensive snaps last year.

In an ideal world, an increased role will translate to more sacks. If the Falcons get similar production per snap, a double-digit sack campaign is certainly in the cards.

Expecting Lorenzo Carter and DeAngelo Malone to be something they haven’t would be wishful thinking and frankly naive. Carter put up three sacks last year while taking 38% of the defense’s snaps; he’s a rotational player and nothing more. Malone, on the other hand, still is somewhat of an unknown commodity. He only took two snaps last year, so your guess is as good as mine.

Now, let’s look at those external options who could contribute. A potential reunion with Calais Campbell is still on the table, and he led the Falcons in sacks last year with 6.5, tied with Bud Dupree. However, putting your eggs in that basket seems a bit risky, doesn’t it?

The other free agent options are quite bleak. Bringing Dupree back could be an avenue for Fontenot and Morris, but sticking with the status quo shouldn’t be the goal if they hope to compete in the postseason.

Then, there’s the draft, which could provide a potentially impactful rookie like Dallas Turner, Jared Verse, and Laiatu Latu. It would be foolish to rely on a rookie to carry the lion’s share of a pass rush, but here we are.

So, in summary, the best-case scenario for the Falcons pass rush is Ebiketie breaks out in his third season, Harrison builds off an impressive finish to his rookie campaign, Carter and Maleon contribute a few sacks as rotational pieces, Campbell returns and gives the Falcons similar production, and one of the rookies bursts onto the scene immediately.

I’m not sure how I feel about that… How do you feel about that scenario?

Photographer: John Byrum/Icon Sportswire

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