Stop me if you’ve heard this before: The Atlanta Falcons will focus on the defensive line this offseason.
I’m pretty sure that everyone and their mother has heard that statement on more than one occasion lately. The real question is not will the Falcons add to their current unit, it’s how they will add to their current defensive line. One route they will take is providing another versatile body at defensive end. One that can give the defense different looks while also aiding edge rusher Vic Beasley Jr. in bringing down quarterbacks.
The team has the likes of veterans Derrick Shelby and Adrian Clayborn. Both however experienced season-ending injuries to the Achilles and Bicep, respectfully. The team will need their presences this upcoming season, but it may be wise for Atlanta to inject some pass rushing talent.
Enter Taco Charlton. The versatile defensive lineman can be staring Atlanta in the face at 31st overall. Here is what Charlton can offer Atlanta.
Taco Charlton Scouting Report
Weight: 272 lbs
Strengths: The first facet that catches your attention about Charlton is his combination of athleticism, size, and length. At 6’6 and in the neighborhood of 270 pounds, Charlton has the prototypical frame for a strong-side defensive end. It’s the athleticism of Charlton that sets him apart from other strong-side defensive ends. He has shown the ability to generate a burst and bend around the edge against offensive tackles to cause disruption. Again, an aspect rarely seen from a defensive lineman that is 6’6 or a lineman that is 270 pounds or more.
Charlton is able to convert speed-to-power to get into the backfield. His usage of hand techniques has improved over time along with his favorable arm length that prevents opposing linemen from getting into his pads when rushing.
Charlton is also an asset in both run defense as well as pass rushing. Offensive linemen and tight ends have a difficult time driving Charlton at the point-of-attack. A result of his notable frame and strength. The 2016 first team All-Big Ten defensive end is also versatile enough to be equally effective in rushing from both sides. It was during his senior season that Charlton saw a considerable advancement in his skill set. This past season saw Charlton set career-highs in tackles (40), tackles for loss (13.5), and sacks (10). What’s great about that is Charlton is still only scratching the surface of his potential and still has room for improvement.
Weaknesses: Consistency. The biggest flaw off the page for Charlton. He never really came to form as a pass rusher until his senior season. Very little was shown from Charlton during his first three seasons that indicated he is worth a long term investment. While his strength has looked good on certain occasions, there are certain spots where Charlton looks as if he lacks ideal strength. On top of that, Charlton occasionally lacks discipline with his gap responsibility. Something that will not be tolerated in a gap-important scheme such as the Falcons 4-3 Under.
Conclusion: For the Atlanta Falcons, addressing the defensive line is pretty inevitable this offseason.
The odds of the Falcons injecting youth and talent at the defensive end spot is heavily in their favor. The pair of veterans in Shelby and Clayborn will be counted on in 2017. But in reality, the Falcons cannot enter the season with the two as the team’s main pass rushers alongside Beasley. Both will be coming off season-ending injuries, and if you’ve paid attention to Dan Quinn, he is constantly adjusting.
Which is where Charlton comes into play. His presence can be greatly utilized along the Falcons’ defensive line. Pass rushing effectively from both ends shows a true functionality in Atlanta’s defense. He has shown proper usage at the 5 and 7-technique and can become another piece on an improving defensive line. Charlton has first round talent. With the Falcons sitting at 31st overall, seeing Charlton there is not out of the question. Having Charlton in the Red & Black can give Atlanta another body to get after quarterbacks.