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Bright spots in a dim year: Deadrin Senat is a beast

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The Falcons found a hidden gem in the third-round nose tackle.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Atlanta Falcons Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Over the next week or so, we’ll look at the bright spots on this roster we didn’t have the time or energy to really praise during the regular season. After that, we’ll take a closer look at some of the players who didn’t meet our expectations.

The Falcons were asleep at the wheel last offseason as they overlooked the offensive and defensive line. If there was a weak spot before all the injuries hit, it looked like the defensive line could be problematic. Atlanta waited until the third round to add a new defensive tackle.

Plus who was Deadrin Senat? Fans watched as Maurice Hurst fell round after round but the Falcons instead snagged the big nose tackle from USF. It wasn’t expected he could be a n immediate starter. That expectation was wrong, even in week 1.

Senat came along early as a strooooooong nose tackle.

There’s a few great clips of him showing up big so please enjoy this greatness.

Pro Football Focus ranks Senat’s rookie campaign as the 73rd best interior lineman last season, only two spots behind impressive starter Jack Crawford. That number includes any interior lineman that took a snap. He comes in at 58th for those taking 20 percent or more of the defensive snaps. He’s right ahead Antwaun Woods and Haloti Ngata, and outperformed the likes of Corey Liuget, B.J. Hill, and was only a few spots behind Sheldon Richardson and first rounder Daron Payne. Additionally, he came in over 35 spots higher than former Falcons defensive tackle Dontari Poe.

Most impressive is Senat got some of his highest grades for his pass rush, something you don’t see too often from a nose tackle. What really pops off the screen is his strength. As you saw from the Pittsburgh clip, he really can just throw Pro Bowl veterans around.

Perhaps the biggest problem from his rookie season was nine games straight with only 25 snaps or less, which includes his bizarre benching against the New Orleans Saints. We didn’t like that decision, and it took a little time for the Falcons to finally push disappointing Terrell McClain out of the rotation. McClain finished his underwhelming season inactive after playing starter snaps early in the season.

What’s to come from Senat? Potentially big things. Linemen seem to take years to put it together and become impact players. They rarely start out like Senat. He’s far ahead of the rookie curve and should get more chances to show he’s an impact starter.