There aren’t a lot of guys to choose from to figure out who the best newcomer is for the Falcons this year. There’s this year’s draft class, starting with Takk McKinley and Duke Riley. Then there’s Dontari Poe, the team’s marquee free agent signing.
McKinley already has a sack on the season, and he’s added seven tackles. He’s shown the speed that Dan Quinn saw in him at UCLA, and that explosion off the line of scrimmage is going to be fun to watch for years to come.
Poe’s impact is felt up front, even if it doesn’t necessarily show on the stat sheet. He’s able to get pressure up the middle and he’s helped the Falcons limit big gains on the ground. That’s a welcome change indeed.
It wasn’t an easy choice, so we let Dave, Jeanna, and Matt duke it out in a roundtable.
Dave Choate: Takkarist McKinley
No offense to speedy Duke Riley or big-time free agent signing Dontari Poe, but Takk’s been the best newcomer for these Atlanta Falcons, without question. He’s looked like the team’s third-best pass rusher behind Vic Beasley and (hilariously) Brooks Reed, he’s had a very short learning curve, and his speed and power off the edge will make him dangerous all year long. Given his sky-high ceiling and current level of production, he’s a slam dunk choice as the best player Atlanta’s added in 2017 thus far. Plus he’s my favorite Falcon on Twitter, by a wide margin.
Jeanna Thomas: Takkarist McKinley
McKinley is the easy call here, though I did at least give serious consideration to Dontari Poe. Takk missed a big chunk of offseason workouts thanks to a league rule that requires rookies from universities on quarter systems to return to school until after graduation, and he was also recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. That hasn’t stopped him from looking prepared and explosive so far this season. Plus, Takk is funny as hell, and he has a very good dog named Codeine, and he’s a great dancer. I’m glad to have him in Atlanta.
Matt Chambers: Dontari Poe
Poe plays an often overlooked position, but make no mistake, he’s been the biggest addition to Atlanta’s front seven. You’re not going to be able to look at his stats and see him as a playmaker, but you’ve seen a difference with the defense. The Falcons can suddenly get a stop on 4th-and-short. Their team stats are noticeably improved from last year. Falcons are giving up 0.3 less yards per carry, 3.2 fewer points per game, and 53 fewer yards per game. It all starts up front, and Poe is a huge reason for the improvement.
Well, it’s two against one. Dave and Jeanna win, and Matt loses. Congratulations, Takk McKinley. You’re the Falcons’ best newcomer.