Tabeek: Early guess at the Falcons 2020 starters on defense


It's time to turn our attention toward training camp and all of the position battles that will ensue now that the 2020 NFL Draft is over.

Let's focus on the defense here.

While there weren't too many changes this season with the coaching staff, the Falcons did make some bold moves in free agency, including signing defensive end Dante Fowler. Atlanta also added six new draft picks and signed 20 undrafted college free agents.

If you need a refresher on all of the team's most recent moves, check out the free agent tracker and draft pick tracker here.


I'm expecting the defensive front to look much different in 2020, with the addition of Fowler and rookie Marlon Davidson. Expect first-round draft pick A.J. Terrell to take over one of the starting cornerback spots as well. Let's take a closer look at how the lineup could look on defense when the Falcons kick off the season:


Projected starters

  • DE – Dante Fowler: Fowler made 14 starts and played in 16 games with for the Los Angeles Rams in 2019. He made 58 tackles (40 solo), registered a career-high 11.5 sacks, had 16 quarterback hits, six passes defensed and forced two fumbles.
  • DT – Marlon Davidson (R): There's a reason why Davidson was drafted with the No. 47 overall pick – the Falcons need to generate a stronger pass rush after finishing 29th in the NFL in sacks last season with 28. He had 14.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in four seasons at Auburn.
  • DT – Grady Jarrett: The 2019 Pro Bowler started all 16 games, recorded 69 tackles (38 solo), 12 tackles for loss, a career-high 7.5 sacks, 16 quarterback hits and two forced fumbles.
  • DE – Takk McKinley: The former first-round pick started 13 of 14 games. He made 29 tackles (18 solo), including seven for a loss, 3.5 sacks and 13 quarterback hits before being placed on injured reserve due to a shoulder injury.
  • LB – Deion Jones: Jones, who started in all 16 games in 2019, tallied 110 tackles (68 solo), eight tackles for loss, four quarterback hits, one interception return for a touchdown, one fumble recovery and five passes defensed.
  • LB – Foye Oluokun: Oluokun played in 16 games and made three starts, recording 62 tackles (36 solo), including two for loss and six special teams tackles.
  • CB – A.J. Terrell (R): Terrell was the 16th-overall pick in the 2020 draft, and the first-team All-ACC selection in 2019 will be expected to come right in and start opposite of Isaiah Oliver.
  • SS – Keanu Neal: Neal only played in three games – starting all three – and recorded 14 tackles (11 solo) before spending the remainder of the season on injured reserve due to an Achilles injury.
  • FS – Ricardo Allen: Allen started in all 16 games, totaling 85 tackles (54 solo), four tackles for loss, eight passes defensed and two interceptions.
  • FS – Damontae Kazee: Kazee, who played in 16 games and made 14 starts, recorded 74 tackles (46 solo), two tackles for loss, made three interceptions and three passes defensed.
  • CB – Isaiah Oliver: Oliver saw action in all 16 games as a starter and got better as the season went on. He made 62 tackles (50 solo), 11 passes defensed and had one quarterback hit.
Allen Bailey

Key reserves

  • CB – Kendall Sheffield: As a rookie in 2019, Sheffield saw action in all 16 games and made 11 starts. He had 46 tackles (33 solo) and three passes defensed.
  • DT – Tyeler Davison: Made 12 starts and played in all 16 games in 2019. He recorded 55 tackles (26 solo), one sack, four tackles for loss, two quarterback hits and one fumble recovery.
  • DE/DT – Allen Bailey: He made five starts and saw action in 15 games, while posting 26 tackles (14 solo), four tackles for loss and two quarterback hits.
  • CB – Blidi Wreh-Wilson: He made just two starts but saw action in 14 games. He recorded 25 tackles (21 solo) and seven passes defensed.
  • DE – John Cominsky: Cominsky played in 10 games and finished with 11 tackles (three solo), two passes defensed and a half-sack.
  • DE – Steven Means: After seeing action in eight games and making four starts in 2018, Means spent 2019 on injured reserve. He recorded 14 tackles (seven solo), three tackles for loss and one sack the season before.
Apr-15-2019 15-25-49

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