FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Arnold Ebiketie's size and skill are clear for all to see on his college game tape. The edge rusher stands 6-foot-3 and 253 pounds, with big hands and a solid wingspan. He has the technical savvy to slip by blocks or power through them, using leverage effectively to reach the backfield.
Those traits aided his breakout 2021 campaign after transferring to Penn State, where he had 62 tackles, including 18 for a loss, 9.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. He had 52 pressures overall, per PFF, and a 22.8-percent pass-rush win rate, which was ninth best in the country.
Numbers like that don't just come from physicality and technique alone.
Ebiketie works another angle pretty hard.
The man studies. A lot.
"Knowledge is power," Ebiketie said last week. "The more knowledge I'm able to gain the more effective I'll be on the field."
The rookies and vets are out at Flowery Branch working together as a team for the first time.
That has been beneficial to a player relatively inexperienced playing football. He didn't start until his sophomore year in high school – soccer was the Cameroon native's first athletic passion – but worked tirelessly, mentally and physically, to improve his craft.
It helped him in college and Ebiketie believes it'll help him transition to the pros.
"I think it comes down to how I approach pass rushing, how I study my opponent and how I translate that knowledge onto the field," Ebiketie said. "I'm agile enough, versatile enough to do some different things. As long as I keep that mindset and study my opponent well, I think I should be fine moving forward."
The Falcons hope he'll transition well to the pros, and they can help the No. 38 overall pick develop into a dominant edge player over time. That's a process Ebiketie is excited to start, with the help of Falcons coaches and a method of study and technical refinement that has worked well to this point.
It's not just about studying opposing linemen and offensive schemes, either. Sometimes it's self-scouting. Other times it's about reviewing tape from the best in his field.
"I study Von Miller, TJ Watt, Nick Bosa, some of the guys who have been consistent over the years," Ebiketie said. "I study things they do and try to apply it to my own game. I'm really interested in the game. I'm just trying to get better."
There will be some adjustments to the pro game and the scheme he's joining. Ebiketie says he'll operate from a two-point stance far more than he was in college, and must learn how to take the right initial steps rushing the passer and how to defend the run well as a (mostly) stand-up edge player.
Ebiketie is confident he'll reach a place where he can be consistently impactful. He views consistency as the most important piece of the puzzle, separating top tier pass rushers from those who are merely talented.
Consistency and a willingness to learn. Dean Pees loves that in his players. That's what Ebiketie aims to give the defensive coordinator during the offseason program and training camp, never assuming that his lofty draft status guarantees him anything.
"I'm confident in my potential, and I know I'm going to put the work in," Ebiketie said. "I don't expect any handout. One of my coaches said you have to earn your keep so I'm going to come out here every day and try to earn my spot."
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