Surprisingly, the depth looks better. Adrian Clayborn and Malliciah Goodman are the backups at end, with Grady Jarrett and Jonathan Babineaux at tackle. Can those eight players give the Falcons a presence on the defensive line?
Beasley is the rookie everyone will have an eye on. He played well in the preseason. Beasley will be in the LEO position, which is a hybrid defensive end and linebacker. He's got great speed and that should produce decent sack totals.
Jackson was a pleasant surprise in August. He's lost weight and looked more like the beast he was at LSU a few years ago compared to the fat player who showed up last season. Jackson could really improve the whole line if he is as good he was a few years ago in Kansas City.
The time is now for Hageman, who has been driven by defensive line coach Bryan Cox. Hageman could be tremendous against the run, something new head coach Dan Quinn has wanted to improve.
Like Jackson, Soliai has lost some weight to better fit the scheme. He's still huge, but Soliai has to be more significant on the line of scrimmage. The Falcons need Soliai to be more than ordinary.
If Clayborn can stay healthy and play, the Falcons might have a solid backup that can help on rushing the passer. He combined with Beasley in August to create a promising pair for the Falcons. It's all about Clayborn staying on the field and avoiding injury. When he's played in his career, he's been very good. It's all up to Clayborn to stay healthy.
Goodman is still, after all these years, trying to find his way. He's long enough to play on the line of scrimmage, but it's hard for the coaches to find a perfect fit for Goodman.
Can Grady Jarrett create havoc in his first year? Well, the Falcons would love him to come in for Hageman once in a while and contribute.
And Babineaux is back. He's not a starter, at least not right now. But when called upon, expect Babineaux to do what he can to help his team. He's done that very well for many years.
There are questions here, but there is depth. It's a matter of what Dan Quinn believes he'll need moving forward. Beasley can be a star, while the Falcons need Jackson to become a solid contributor.
This position does not need to be a negative moving forward. Some pass rush must be created, while the Falcons also need to do better stopping the run.
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