FentayeJones Posted July 10, 2015 Share Posted July 10, 2015 The Falcons defense needs to see improvement along the defensive line. Atlanta's interior defensive line positions—strong-side defensive end, nose tackle, under tackle and nickel interior pass rushers—are going to be fought through some very competitive battles.While high-round draft pick Ra'Shede Hageman and big-name free agents Tyson Jackson and Paul Soliai look to be in the mix for starting positions right now, long-time Falcon Jonathan Babineaux and 2013 fourth-round pick Malliciah Goodman could be dark horses for starting roles. Also, don't count out 2014 free agent signing Adrian Clayborn.Role: Starting Under Tackle Ra'Shede Hageman is a physical specimen who had his ups-and-downs in 2014. He had times when he just didn't look like he knew what was going on or what his assignment was. That should change a ton under head coach Dan Quinn's much more simplified scheme.Hageman will be asked to play primarily a one-gapping, penetrating under-tackle role out of a 3-technique on the weak side of the formation. This should be for the best. Hageman has been most effective when he can be one-on-one with an offensive guard using his power and sheer force to knock them out of the way.Role: Starting Nose Tackle Paul Soliai was brought in before the 2014 season to be a clogger in the middle of the field. That shouldn't change in 2015 under Dan Quinn. He'll be asked to play in a 1-technique on the strong side most of the time meaning that he should occupy a center and a guard.With Soliai eating up blockers and Hageman creating havoc on the other side of the center, the linebackers should have many more open lanes to hit the running backs behind the line. On top of that, if Soliai is eating blockers on the inside of the formation, it should free up the ends into more one-on-one pass rush situations.Role: Starting Strong-Side Defensive EndThis was the weakest link of the 2014 defensive line. It should be much better in 2015 with Adrian Clayborn manning the position. He's been a very good pass rusher in the NFL thus-far, but he's been plagued by injuries during the early parts of his career.2015 will hopefully be different. And despite being injury prone early in his career, the Falcons could wind up with a truly talented strong-side end out of Clayborn. He's very similar to Michael Bennett in a lot of ways and could be the steal of free agency's 2015 class.Role: Competing for Rotational Pass Rush RoleJonathan Babineaux is the second-longest tenured Falcon by just a couple of hours. He's been a Falcon for a decade now and will likely finish his career in Atlanta. He's also declining from his former fringe-Pro Bowl talent that he had for years.And that's ok. But at 33—he turns 34 in October, the Falcons should use him in a rotational role. Babineaux would be best coming in on pass rushing situations where he can play in a 3-technique and attack quarterbacks. That's where his strength is at this point and time.Role: Competing for Rotational Pass Rush RoleGrady Jarrett was a steal in the fifth round for the Falcons. The son of Falcons legend Jesse Tuggle should compete for a spot in rotation with Jonathan Babineaux this year. Even if he doesn't earn a ton of playing time in a pass rushing role, he should still see time spelling Paul Soliai at the 1-technique.Jarrett is an ideal fit for Dan Quinn's scheme as a 1-technique nose tackle due to his ability to penetrate the interior and eat up blockers if he's causing too much trouble. The Falcons should see him fill out in his frame a bit more as well to get closer to a Brandon Mebane-sized player when all is said and done.Role: Competing for Reserve Role at Strong-Side Defensive EndIn this new scheme under Dan Quinn, a role for Tyson Jackson doesn't look like something that will be available. He might be able to earn a spot as a rotational strong-side defensive end or a goalline-package player for the 2015 season.After that, however, it would be shocking to see Jackson on the Falcons. He's just not a great fit for the new scheme and likely won't be able to beat out Adrian Clayborn or Malliciah Goodman for a starting or rotational role without completely changing who he is as a player.Role: Competing for a Reserve Role at Starting Strong-side EndMalliciah Goodman is one of the most underrated players in the Falcons defensive line rotation. After bulking up too big in 2014 and playing more of a defensive tackle-style role, Goodman has lost weight to get back down to his college weight of 270 and will play end in 2015.This should help him get back to his true form. Goodman played a role almost identical to Dan Quinn's Michael Bennett role when Goodman was in college. He is at his best when he can line up on the strong-side, set the edge and attack the quarterback from that spot.Role: Competing for a roster spotA long-time Special Teams addition to the roster, Cliff Matthews can play either the edge roles or the interior defensive line roles. In the new scheme, he'll be very important to the depth along the line as well. But the question is whether he can earn a roster spot.The Falcons would likely have to keep at least 7 interior defensive linemen for him to have a shot. Then he'd have to beat out Tyson Jackson or Malliciah Goodman for that final spot. On top of that, he'll have to show that he can learn the new scheme and be more than just a pure run defender in the scheme.Role: Competing for a roster spotBehind Paul Soliai, the Falcons don't really have anyone with a massive frame. Sure, Ra'Shede Hageman and Tyson Jackson have the ability to play the 1-technique, but it wouldn't be close to their best role. Grady Jarrett also doesn't have the size compared to Soliai either.Because of that, Joey Mbu stands a shot at making the roster. Mbu is 6'3", 315 pounds and has long 35" arms that would allow him to keep distance between him and an offensive guard. He's also quick off the snap. He stands an outside shot at a roster spot should the Falcons keep seven defensive linemen.Role: Competing for a roster spotUnlike Joey Mbu, Ricky Havili-Heimuli looks like he's just going to be in camp to take some snaps and keep guys rested. His highest potential is as a practice squad player again. He isn't the ideal athlete up front that the Falcons want and isn't good with his techniwue, either.Role: Competing for a roster spotWarren Herring is a very unique situation. He could be a guy who will pop off the ball in camp and show some potential as a 3-technique. But his film doesn't show that ability now. His ideal role is in a 3-4 as an end eating blockers, not as a 4-3 defensive tackle.http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2501879-atlanta-falcons-full-position-breakdown-depth-chart-analysis-at-defensive-line Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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