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Falcons to watch: What kind of 2019 role can John Cominsky earn?

The rookie defensive end has all the physical ability in the world. Can he put it together in Atlanta?

Atlanta Falcons Practice Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

John Cominsky is not expected to be an impact player in 2019. It’s always a good idea to expect that an athletic yet relatively raw defensive lineman will not play a major role in his first year, and anything Cominsky can provide this year will be a bonus.

That said, things have be happening that could open the door for some kind of opportunity. Cominsky is expected to play quite a bit of defensive end his first year and Steven Means just got hurt, which means the snaps should at least be there.

With that in mind, what kind of role should we expect from Cominsky?

What’s working in Cominsky’s favor?

When Steven Means went down, it opened up a real opportunity and weakened the team’s defensive line. Means got limited opportunities in 2018, but made the most of them as both a run stopper and a pass rusher. Without him, the Falcons effectively have a proven three man group and whoever emerges from what’s left on the roster.

As a fourth round pick the Falcons’ coaching staff is clearly excited about, Cominsky is probably the guy who stands to benefit the most. Cominsky has an intriguing athletic profile and could be a plus pass rusher on the interior down the line, and his size and power makes him an interesting inside-outside player at defensive tackle and defensive end. As the last or maybe second to last) guy on the defensive line, there’ll be a handful of a snaps available to him, and if he makes the most of those early on that role could grow.

Beyond that, it’s the fact that the coaching staff talked him up so much early—and that they took pains to scoop him up in front of Dallas—that makes me think he’ll get a real bite at the apple early on.

What’s working against Cominsky?

Is he ready? The chief knocks on Cominsky concern readiness, whether it’s using technique rather than power to win or just how quickly he reacts to and processes plays. That’s unlikely to all go away in the course of the next couple of months, and while there will be teams Cominsky can win against with sheer athleticism and power, they will be relatively few and far between.

Dan Quinn also will be able to trot out Vic Beasley, Takkarist McKinley, Adrian Clayborn, and a deep group at defensive tackle, meaning Cominsky’s role really can’t be that large unless injury strikes.

What to expect in 2019

See above. Cominsky has the chance to be special right away, but the odds are against him having a major role because of the mouths that need to be fed and the work he has ahead of him.

I’ll say Cominsky will get in most every game this season, put up a handful of tackles, and manage three sacks. Like Russell Gage (but to a greater extent), I imagine most of his success will come in 2020 and beyond.