If you wanted a sign that the Falcons are going to align their personnel to run more 3-4 fronts in 2014, today has been kind to you. The Falcons announced Mark Collins as the new outside linebacker coach, Vaughn McClure said current Falcons players are talking about and they're now reportedly showing interest in Paul Soliai.
Falcons may be implementing more 3-4 elements on D. Very aggressively pursuing Miami NT Paul Soliai— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 10, 2014
#Falcons are targeting linemen in free agency. Asamoah, Starks, Mitchell & Soliai are possible targets | #Falcons http://t.co/5ZAqvTvIWI— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@AJCFalcons) March 10, 2014
Soliai is a big body with a long track record as a borderline elite run stopper. At 340 pounds, he's not going to lumber his way in to the quarterback all that often, but that's not why you have him in the lineup. He occupies space, frees up other players and grinds the opposing run game to a halt. That's a useful player, particularly as the anchor in a 3-4 front. Randy Starks is an excellent big body for the middle of the line, though he's likely to be more expensive than Soliai.
It's news that they Falcons are pursuing Soliai, but it's not necessarily a surprise. As soon as the 3-4 talk came to a head, it was fairly obvious that the Falcons would be looking for a nose tackle-type to plug into the lineup, and Soliai is an obvious choice because he actually can stop the run at a high level.
Cost is the question here. Soliai is a fine player and an asset on the first two downs, but you're generally going to take him off the field on third down. If he wants a huge contract, the Falcons may be best-served looking elsewhere for their nose tackle needs. Again, it looks like more 3-4 looks are a possibility next year, but the Falcons will need to add talent to get that done.
Do you think the Falcons will sign Soliai?