In recent seasons, the Falcons’ pass rush has largely been lacking save for the pressure generated by John Abraham.
The Falcons have moved on from Abraham, with ex-Giant defensive end Osi Umenyiora replacing him as the club’s top edge rusher. The 31-year-old Umenyiora, who’s notched at least nine sacks in four NFL seasons, was a reasonable replacement for Abraham, and he could very well replace Abraham’s pass-rush production (10 sacks) from a season.
However, even if Umenyiora produces, will any other Falcons emerge as consistent rush threats? Veteran Kroy Biermann is the most experienced option opposite of Umenyiora, but he notched just three sacks in the lone season in which he started a majority of games (2010, 14 starts).
Overall, Abraham had more than twice as many sacks as any other Falcons defender in each of the last three seasons. In fact, Abraham was the only player to exceed four sacks in each of those seasons.
Given the Falcons’ recent issues generating enough of a pass rush, rookies Malliciah Goodman (Round Four) and Stansly Maponga (Round Five) would seem to stand a chance to get some snaps early if they can show they can pressure the quarterback.
Goodman’s size (6-4, 276) and long arms (more than 36 inches long) give him an NFL-type skill set, but he told the Associated Press that hand use against offensive linemen is key for him to succeed.
“It’s a lot easier for me to get extension on offensive linemen,” Goodman told the AP at the Falcons’ rookie minicamp, which runs Friday through Sunday. “If I’m late shooting my hands, then it’s hard. I just have to be on point, shoot my hands up right and then it’s hard for them to get under me and stop me.”
Goodman had seven sacks as a senior at Clemson. Maponga, who’s currently dealing with a foot injury, per the AP, had four as a junior at TCU before declaring for the draft, but he had nine as a sophomore.
Whether either can contribute in Year One for the Falcons remains to be seen, but this is a defense that could use multiple rush threats.