A strong pass rush can take a team from good to great in the NFL, and at least one national writer thinks the Falcons have an emerging trio of stars.
According to The Ringer's Danny Kelly, the Falcons' trio of Vic Beasley, Grady Jarrett and Takkarist McKinley belongs on a list of the league's new generation of superstar pass rushers.
"It doesn't get talked about enough that the Falcons defense features three of the league's most promising young pass rushers: Grady Jarrett, the 25-year-old defensive tackle who notched four sacks and 39 pressures (eighth among DTs) last year, holds things down in the middle, while 22-year-old defensive end Takkarist McKinley (who recorded six sacks, two forced fumbles, and 34 pressures as a rookie) and 25-year-old Vic Beasley bring heat off the edge," Kelly writes.
"Beasley's numbers dropped off last year due to a move to weakside linebacker, but he's set to move back to his more natural defensive end spot – where he recorded an NFL-best 15.5 sacks in 2016 – giving the Falcons the chance to feature one of the most dominant pass-rushing groups in the NFL."
All three players were drafted and developed by the Falcons, and they have emerged as players who can impact a game on any given snap.
Jarrett is among the best defensive tackles in the league at making plays behind the line of scrimmage and getting pressure on the quarterback, not to mention his three-sack performance in Super Bowl LI. Beasley's performance may have dipped in 2017 compared to his league-best 15.5 sacks the year prior, but his athleticism is clear and he should have a more singular role this fall as he moves back to defensive end full time.
McKinley's spot on this list is impressive and well-earned. Falling just one sack shy of the Falcons' rookie sack record in the regular season, McKinley carried his late-season momentum into the playoffs, recording a sack in each of the Falcons' postseason games.