The Falcons’ biggest offseason need had to be either pass rushers or pass catchers. Russell Gage signed with the Bucs, and Calvin Ridley was suspended for the entire 2022 season. It was easy to look at the putrid receiving core in Atlanta and dub it the most significant need. However, the pass rush unit was the worst group across the entire league in 2021. They recorded a league-low 18 sacks, 11 behind the second-to-last team, which is less than T.J. Watt and Robert Quinn totaled individually.
The Falcons bolstered both of their biggest weaknesses this offseason. Atlanta drafted Drake London and traded for Bryan Edwards while selecting two high-upside pass rushers on Day 2 of the draft as well as signing Lorenzo Carter. DeAngelo Malone has been described as a rookie who could record double-digit sacks, and he would be the first Falcon to reach that mark since 2016, when Vic Beasley racked up 15.5 sacks.
Moreover, the Falcons actually traded up to the 38th pick to select Penn State EDGE defender Arnold Ebiketie. Prior to playing for the Nittany Lions, Ebiketie spent time with Temple. His most productive year came in 2021 when recorded 62 tackles, 18 tackles for loss, and 9.5 sacks.
Ebiketie was invited to the Senior Bowl in Mobile, where he impressed scouts. The Falcons obviously have a need for pass rushers, but will he be able to have an immediate impact? Jim Nagy, the Executive Director of the event, is incredibly high on the prospect of Ebiketie effecting offenses immediately. “[He’s an] athletic every-down OLB who could start right away,” Nagy said. “Immediately adds much-needed pass rush.”
The Falcons would love if Ebiketie stepped up and assumed the starting role opposite Lorenzo Carter, but Ade Ogundeji has more experience and will likely get the early nod. That isn’t to say he can’t eventually take over for the former fifth-rounder, but I doubt he will immediately win the job.
Photographer: Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire
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