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The Falcons are suddenly deep and talented along the defensive front

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

It's been many years since I've been able to say this with a straight face, but the Falcons legitimately have depth and talent available to them on the defensive line. Now it's just a question of how well that line will play under Dan Quinn.

Only Vic Beasley and Ra'Shede Hageman have the blend of youth and potential future greatness that the Falcons have been craving for years, but this unit is still much stronger than it has been in years. Dan Quinn loves to be able to rotate personnel to keep players fresh and get them on the field in situations where they can be impactful, and he'll be able to do that now.

If he needs to dial up a run-stopping line, he can load Ra'Shede Hageman and Paul Soliai into the middle while kicking Tyson Jackson and Jonathan Babineaux out to defensive end, a configuration that should work much better with more intelligent scheming, more sparing use and further development from Hageman. If he needs to rush the passer, he can put Hageman and Babs in the middle, put Adrian Clayborn or Kroy Biermann on the strong side and let Vic Beasley wreak havoc from the LEO spot. At the very least, these guys can effectively occupy blockers for the linebackers, and you can bet Quinn and Richard Smith are going to dial up more linebacker blitzes after adding Justin Durant, Brooks Reed and O'Brien Schofield. That's not even mentioning legitimately useful role players like Malliciah Goodman, who still has the potential to do more thanks to his athleticism and strength, and Stansly Maponga, who could have a minor breakout season in a more aggressive scheme that gives him legitimate playing time. Or Grady Jarrett, who I have to include lest I be destroyed by my gentle readers.

In the last couple of years, the Falcons have been relying on Babineaux as a starting end, where he isn't nearly as effective as on the interior. They've had Kroy Biermann playing starter's snaps when Biermann's ideal role is as sort of a super-substitute who can do a little bit of everything. Simply getting these guys into their ideal roles and replacing them with players who are more ideally suited to take snaps at end will do wonders for this defense, which has a legitimate shot to go from cover-your-eyes awful to decent in the span of one year. Things have to break right, of course, but you don't have to squint hard to see a little development and the new additions making a profound difference.

This may not be a true strength for the team in 2015, but the Falcons are building toward that end. Let's sincerely hope we see huge improvement with the team's additions starting this year.