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Falcons overlooked in CBS Sports rankings of top defensive players?


Now that the NFL Draft and the busiest portion of free agency is behind us, we're smack-dab in the middle of the NFL offseason. In other words, predictions season is here, and some are definitely more credible than others.

I get it. With training camps set to open up in the next month or so, it's a perfect time to start making predictions of how we think all these roster additions (and subtractions) will play out and unfold on the field.

And that's exactly what my former co-workers at CBS Sports have been doing. From the coaches to the cornerbacks, they have have been creating top-10 lists for every position group as we inch closer to the start of the 2020 NFL season.


NFL writer Ryan Wilson recently unveiled two lists – the top-10 edge rushers and defensive linemen. It caught my eye because there was only one Atlanta Falcons player noted, and that includes 11 additional players on his honorable mention lists.

Not surprisingly, however, is that Grady Jarrett made Wilson's list for top interior defensive linemen. Jarrett, in fact, comes in at No. 4. Green Bay's Kenny Clark, Kansas City's Chris Jones and Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams are the three players ahead of Jarrett.

"Jarrett signed a four-year, $68 million deal before the 2019 season and there's no doubt he was worth it," Wilson wrote. "He ranked fourth (up one spot from a year ago) among all interior defensive linemen, according to PFF's grades."

Were any other Falcons worthy of top-10 or even honorable mention consideration along the defensive line? No, I don't think so.

But what about the edge rushers?

Dante Fowler finished with 11.5 sacks in 2019, which was tied with Robert Quinn, Joey Bosa and Bud Dupree for ninth-best in the NFL. Well, Wilson ranks Bosa at No. 5 and Quinn is listed as an honorable mention. He left Fowler and Dupree off the list completely.

Is it a snub? Not really, and here's why. While Fowler had an excellent season, it was by far the best season in his four-year career. Prior to 2019, Fowler had just 12 sacks combined over three seasons. Now there's much more to being an effective edge rusher than just sack totals, but that's one stat everyone looks at first, fair or not.

Regardless, the Falcons think highly of Fowler and signed him to a three-year deal worth a reported $48 million. After opting to let former first-round pick Vic Beasley leave in free agency, the are counting on Fowler to bolster a pass rush that finished with 28 sacks last season, which was tied for 31st in the league. Beasley, for what it's worth, led the Falcons with eight sacks last year.

In addition to signing Fowler, the Falcons made several moves in hopes of shoring up their defensive front. Atlanta traded for former first-round pick Charles Harris, drafted defensive tackle Marlon Davidson out of Auburn, signed defensive tackle Tyeler Davison to an extension, and will be getting defensive end Steven Means back after he missed the entire season with an Achilles injury.

From Auburn to ATL, Davidson doesn't hold back

Rookie Marlon Davidson admits he's a big trash talker, has plenty to say about Alabama, playing in the NFC South and has a message for Falcons fans in the latest episode of Bird Noises with Matt Tabeek. Be sure to check out more episodes of Bird Noises, an Atlanta Falcons podcast about football ... and mostly everything else.

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