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A closer look into what the Falcons valued in the picks of four pressure players in the 2024 NFL Draft

Atlanta selected three defensive tackles and an outside linebacker, adding to its defensive front. 

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — Atlanta selected four pressure players with exactly half of the Falcons 2024 NFL Draft picks.

Atlanta general manager Terry Fontenot, head coach Raheem Morris and company added to an area of need by drafting three defensive tackles and an outside linebacker.

  • DT Ruke Orhorhoro, second round
  • OLB Bralen Trice, third round
  • DT Brandon Dorlus, fourth round
  • DT Zion Logue, sixth round

"D-line is one of those areas we wanted to bring in some youth and size," Fontenot said. "Never can have too many pass rushers."

Adding pressure on the edge was a common prediction heading into the draft, but the Falcons prioritized adding pressure across the line of scrimmage. It's a move that also helps build the future of the defensive line with veterans Grady Jarrett and David Onyemata entering Year 10 and 9, respectively. Not to mention Jarrett is also coming off a season-ending knee injury he sustained in November 2023.

In his eight game appearances before the injury, Jarrett played in 62% of the defensive snaps — down more than 14% from the previous season. Meanwhile, Onyemata took 63% of snaps on defense. The Falcons rotated in younger players like Zach Harrison and Ta'Quon Graham often last season. Despite a new defensive coordinator wearing the headset, it's possible to assume they may deploy a similar strategy in 2024.

"That rotation up front is probably the most rotated position in football," Morris said. "When you're talking about the D-line, you're talking about everybody getting in a 60-snap game, 20, 30 snaps a game, and you can get the most out of those guys."

Atlanta hopes to use each of the four in multiple ways, from attacking the passer on the inside, on the edge or falling back in coverage and -- of course -- to defending the run. Along with versatility, the Falcons also had length in mind when choosing defensive prospects.


In Morris' first stint coaching in Atlanta (2016-20) where he played a plethora of coaching roles, including defensive coordinator, he ran a study to determine which factors mattered most when drafting the prototypical defensive prospect. Morris and former Falcons linebackers coach — current New York Jets defensive coordinator — Jeff Ulbrich spent an offseason gathering information on what variables could give them an edge (pun intended).

"The people that had more length, they missed less tackles," Morris said. "You start to look at it and you just put these charts together of length, size, time, didn't matter what the height (was) and all those things. Length became this major (piece) that we really fell in love with."

The four pressure players drafted to the incoming rookie class have an average wingspan of 79.6 inches and an average of 33.3 inches in arm length.

While those aren't necessarily eye-popping, for example, 2023 rookie Harrison measures out with an 85.5-inch wingspan and an 36.25-inch arm length, it falls in line with a consistent baseline the Falcons didn't deviate from when picking pressure players. Morris joked that they drafted inside linebacker JD Bertrand even though he has "short arms" because they were so still high on the linebacker.

The Falcons ranked in the bottom half of the league in sacks in 2023. Now, Atlanta heads into next season with four more pass-rush tools in the box.

"It fires me up, really fires me up with the ability to be able to play with those things as a coach," Morris said. "... It gives you a lot of toys and tools to be able to go out there be creative."

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