Although it might not be evident in the box score, Falcons newcomer Vic Beasley, Jr. has been highly effective in his first two regular season games. Based on the tape, he's done a good job exploding off the snap, bending the edge and disrupting the QB, and on Sunday, his efforts were rewarded with his first NFL sack.
The underlying numbers are favorable to him, as well. Heading into Week 3, the eighth-overall pick owns the second-highest pass rush grade on Pro Football Focus among 4-3 defenders, behind only Seattle's Cliff Avril. This success led PFF to name Beasley the NFL's best rookie so far.
Such an accolade is notable in itself; the fact that he's looked so good against stiff competition—including D'Brickashawk Ferguson, Jason Peters and Ereck Flowers—makes it all the most impressive. While it would have been easier for him to transition to the Falcons against middling opponents, facing some of the world's premier linemen has helped him realize what it takes to succeed as a professional.
"I think every week it's ball in the NFL. How hard you have to go, and the battle you have to go. It was awesome to see him compete again (versus New York) and just going for it," Dan Quinn said of Beasley. "He's still got the initial quickness to beat a guy to the punch. He's a factor for sure, and just knowing how hard you have to bring it all of the time is one of the biggest jumps that a guy has to make from college into the NFL."
Gaining experience against talented O-linemen should prepare Beasley for his next test: Dallas' Tyron Smith, a two-time Pro Bowler and first-team All-Pro in 2014. Smith, who landed at 36th overall in the latest Top 100 list, is among football's elite left tackles. Through two games, he's yet to allow a sack or a QB hurry and surrendered just two sacks in 2014.
Surely he'll give Beasley a tough fight at Cowboys Stadium.
"So many guys have to go through it, and (Beasley's) going through it right in front of us in terms of, 'Every week I have to bring it,'" said Quinn. "It's one of the most fun parts of the NFL. The competitiveness every week, every game, who you're playing comes down to the end like this is what we do it for right here at the end."