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'He's an enforcer': How Bralen Trice's play caught the Falcons' attention

Bralen Trice’s nickname echoed through the pre-draft process, now it's the Falcons who hope his Washington moniker sticks in Atlanta. 

Finding Falcons is a series that ventures beyond Atlanta's decision to draft a specific player and reveals the why behind doing so. Exclusive interviews with Falcons position coaches, area scouts and the decision-makers at the top detail the moments that solidified the decision to draft each of the men who make up their 2024 draft class. For eight consecutive weeks, we'll tell those stories.

Last week, we highlighted the three pillars of Ruke Orhorhoro’s game that the Falcons found value in. This week, we're zeroing in on the Falcons' No. 74 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, Bralen Trice.

Story by Tori McElhaney

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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – By the end of Bralen Trice's five-year college career with Washington, his teammates had established a nickname for him. It was one that garnered as much respect as it did attention from opponents. That nickname was, 'The Enforcer.'

On Jan. 4, just before the Huskies' first national championship appearance in program history, Tim Booth of the Associated Press spoke to Trice's teammates about the nickname.

"He's that enforcer that gets us going not only with his energy, but his playmaking," Washington linebacker Alphonzo Tuputala was quoted saying. "You obviously see it on tape. To have that, it rallies everybody up. He don't talk that much, but he just decides to go out there and do it himself."

This quote, and the nickname that came with it, distantly echoed through the pre-draft process. It was something softly whispered to the Falcons during the leadup to the 2024 NFL Draft as they contemplated using one of their picks on Trice. When they ultimately pulled the trigger and did so, it was this nickname that came back in full-force.

"He's an enforcer in his play, in the way he plays and with the strength and power that he possesses. He shows it play-in and play-out," Falcons outside linebackers coach, Jacquies Smith, said. "I think that's the perfect nickname for him."

Joel Collier, the Falcons northwest area scout who was Atlanta's first point of contact for all things Trice, said he saw time and time again throughout the scouting process why Trice's nickname suited him so well.

"He was truly the front-seven tone-setter, that's the way that they talked about him (at Washington)," Collier said. "… He's the one in each game that, basically, was going to make the big play that was going to get the energy going."

Sound familiar? It should considering the similarities this quote shares with the one from Tuputala back in January.

However, when it comes to teammates, coaches and scouts describing Trice in this way, why do they do so? Where does 'The Enforcer' nickname come from?

Well, it comes from the power and passion they've seen Trice demonstrate.


In Booth's AP article that focused on Trice linked above, Washington right tackle Roger Rosengarten believed Trice's get-off could be argued as one of the best in college football. After the Falcons drafted Trice with the No. 74 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, Smith said Trice is the guy who you want in a proverbial bar fight. Per Collier, the seemingly effortless way Trice moves offensive linemen out of his way in his pursuit of the quarterback is the most noticeable quality he possesses.

All of these opinions and observations go right back to this idea of being an enforcer.

The biggest hold up in this nickname catching fire, though? Trice's sack numbers coming out of college didn't look like those of fellow edge rushers in the draft. Trice finished his 40-game stint in the college ranks with 18 total sacks. By comparison, first-round picks Dallas Turner, Jared Verse and Laiatu Latu all topped out their careers with at least 23.5 sacks.

However, the biggest misconception about edge rushers is that their value is only as high as their sack totals. That couldn't be further from the truth.

Are sacks important? Yes. But ask defensive coordinators across the league, or at any level in fact, and they'll all agree: Getting a quarterback off his spot and under duress is just as important. And you know who did that more than any single player in college football in the last two seasons? Trice.

According to Dane Brugler’s draft guide, Trice finished No. 1 in the FBS in total pressures in both 2022 (70) and 2023 (78).

The Falcons took notice of this fact. Not only that, but Smith keyed in on it as he watched Trice's pass-rush moves on film.

"When you're looking at edge rushers, you want to see, can they win a one-on-one rush?" Smith said. "And this guy for the past two years has led the FBS in win percentage as far as one-on-one pass rushers go. … He's the top in that. You're getting a guy who can affect the quarterback. And that's what we need in this league and with everything we're trying to do."

For Collier, this line in Trice's stat sheet is something that kept him coming back for more. Why? Well, because it's a stat line that begs for added attention. It's a stat line that can develop into something more, sometimes rather quickly. If you're pressuring a quarterback, if you're constantly in the pocket, chances are you're a millisecond away from adding to another stat line: sacks.

This is something that convinced the Falcons that Trice would be their guy if he was available.

"As long as it's building as he goes, in terms of a college career, you're going to say, 'Okay, this kid's trajectory is headed the right way,'" Collier said. "He's got the qualities that you like, be it in his case good hands, good feet, strong, all those kinds of things. You can project and say the sacks will come. A lot of d-end rush coaches will talk to guys like that: 'Just be relentless. Do the things you do well, and the sacks will come.'"

And therein lies the hope of Trice's trajectory in Atlanta: That 'The Enforcer's' best and most productive days are ahead of him.

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