One of my favorite things to do as a card-carrying masochist is to dive into the rather sad history of this franchise and look at just how amazing current players look in terms of production. That’s never more true than when we visit the franchise’s list of all-time sack leaders.
The list is somewhat skewed by the fact that sacks weren’t a counting stat when Tommy Nobis, Claude Humphrey, and John Zook (to name a few) were terrorizing doughy quarterbacks, so in reality Vic Beasley isn’t really going to be top five all-time for the Falcons when the season’s over. Because those stats are sort of lost to time, however, for all intents and purposes he has a strong chance of finishing his fourth NFL season comfortably among the franchise’s best. It’s fair to say that the Falcons could end up putting multiple players from Dan Quinn’s teams into the top ten of this list in the next decade or so, and Beasley in particular has a legitimate shot at finishing his career #1.
For the purposes of this already sort of insane list, I’m not going to put any one player down for more than 10 sacks. It could happen, but as you’ll see, this list of players is already weird enough.
Vic Beasley, #5 on the franchise list
Yes, after just four seasons in Atlanta, Beasley could hop all the way up to fifth all-time for sacks. As we said in January:
Speaking of Beasley, he’s still made his way into historic territory very quickly when it comes to sacks. His 24.5 through three seasons is good for 11th all-time, and if he can pick up eight in 2018 he’ll wind up leapfrogging several players including Brady Smith (32), Rod Coleman (30), and Jonathan Babineaux (27) to hold fifth place all to himself. He’ll still be looking up at Travis Hall (41.5), Patrick Kerney (58), Chuck Smith (58.5), and of course John Abraham (68.5).
Takkarist McKinley or Brooks Reed, tied for #20 on the franchise list
If Takk picks up 10 sacks in his second season—not outlandish after he got six in his first year, by the way—he’ll jump all the way up from #51 on the franchise’s list to #20, in a three-way tie with noted bust Aundray Bruce and Chris Doleman. Yes, 10 sacks represents 31 spots on this list, because as we’ve covered ad nauseum, the Falcons don’t have a distinguished history with pass rushers in the modern era since the NFL started tracking sacks.
Ditto Reed, by the way, who also has six sacks for the Falcons since getting here.
Grady Jarrett, #18 on the franchise list
Jarrett hasn’t put up huge sack numbers to this point, and if he gets say four he’ll only jump from #36 to #28. If he did have a huge, paycheck-ballooning season and picked up double digit sacks to raise his career total to 18, he could fly all the way by Keith Brooking and Adrian Clayborn (17 sacks apiece) and nestle right behind Jumpy Geathers (18.5).
Deion Jones or Derrick Shelby, tied for #52 on the franchise list
Debo and Shelby each have one sack in a Falcons uniform. If either of them broke out a bit on the pass rushing front and picked up, say, five, they would rise from a tie in the 120s to #52 with Mike Boley and Jonathan Massaquoi, among others.