April 12, 2024

Just in: Falcons 2nd round pick dubbed PFF’s 2024 breakout candidate

There’s no arguing the Falcons biggest offseason question following the hiring of Raheem Morris and Zac Robinson — the quarterback position.

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The club has to be done with half measures, but at the same time, the options aren’t exactly of the robust variety. The draft offers a couple of interesting prospects in J.J. McCarthy, Bo Nix, and Michael Penix; all of whom would be a reach at the 8th overall pick.

Free agency may be slim pickings if Kirk Cousins and Baker Mayfield re-sign with their respective teams. That would leave Russell Wilson as possibly the best free agent option, which isn’t the worst outcome, especially considering the price.

The trade market has exactly one interesting option in Justin Fields. It really is a bleak outlook compared to where Falcons fans were a couple of months ago. However, it’s not the only pressing matter in terms of roster management.

The Falcons still have a need for a dominant pass rusher. Unlike the quarterback market, the edge defender market is plentiful in options. The free agent market features guys like Josh Allen, Brian Burns, and Danielle Hunter, who will garner considerable contracts.

Bryce Huff, Chase Young, Jonathan Greenad, Jadaveon Clowney, Za’Darius Smith, and Josh Uche represent the next tier that aren’t as attractive as the first group due to age, effectiveness, etc, but are still options.

The draft also presents some intriguing prospects like Dallas Turner and Laiatu Latu, who the Falcons could take with the 8th overall pick. However, there could be a candidate already on the roster ready to step into the role of a reliable pass rusher.

PFF pegged former second-round pick Arnold Ebiketie as an early 2024 breakout candidate.

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The Falcons spent a second-round pick on Ebiketie in 2022 and while he hasn’t played a starting role just yet in the NFL, he has shown signs of improvement, specifically as a pass-rusher over the past two years. Ebiketie earned a 70.1 PFF pass-rush grade, came up with six sacks and finished with a strong 16.6% pressure rate in 2023. He did this on just 175 pass-rush snaps across 17 games, and with another year in Atlanta, should see an increased role in 2024.

The Penn State product really came into his own as the season progressed and certainly has the physical tools to develop into a reliable pass rusher, but the Falcons shouldn’t be complacent at this position. In fact, it should be the opposite. It should be overkilled. Look for them to add multiple edge defenders through the draft and free agency this offseason.

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