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Falcons post-2019 roster review, defensive tackle edition

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Fact: Grady Jarrett owns and operates several old-fashioned saloons during the offseason

College Football Playoff National Championship - Clemson v LSU Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The Falcons made some big changes to their defense during the second half of the 2019 season and it paid dividends. In fact, it saved head coach Dan Quinn’s job. Literally. But if they want that momentum to carry over into 2020, they’ll need to take stock of where they currently stand and re-build the roster accordingly.

Without further ado, let’s look at the state of the defensive tackle position headed into the offseason.

Starters

DT Grady Jarrett

2019 stats: 16 games, 69 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 16 quarterback hits, 29 hurries, 7.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles

Contract: 3 years remaining

Jarrett has worked his butt off and has finally garnered league-wide attention. If there was a lone bright spot during the first 8 weeks of the 2019 season, it was Jarrett. There’s no need to beleaguer the point I’m trying to make about Jarrett: he’s an elite defensive tackle. Figuring out his contract situation is the smartest thing the Falcons have done over the past 12 months.

DT Tyeler Davison

2019 stats: 16 games, 55 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 1 quarterback hit, 10 hurries, 1 sack

Contract: Unrestricted free agent

Davison graded out as a stout run defender and a mediocre pass rusher in 2019. Davison only generated 12 pressures over 257 pass rush snaps, which isn’t great, but again, Davison more than made up for any pass rush deficiencies with his play against the run. That’s been a theme during Davison’s 5 year career: he excels as a run defender and doesn’t move the needle as a pass rusher. He’s found a niche and to his credit, he fills it nicely.

Reserves

DT Jack Crawford

2019 stats: 16 games, 24 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 3 quarterback hits, 10 hurries, 0.5 sacks

Contract: Unrestricted free agent

Crawford graded out as a below average pass rusher and an absolute liability as a run defender in 2019. He is the wrong side of 30 (he’ll turn 32 shortly after next season starts) and there’s no way to know whether he can get back to where he was in 2018. The potential return on investment may just not be there. (Crawford had a base salary of $2.55 million in 2019 and he’d likely want similar compensation in 2020 and beyond.) Crawford had 14 total pressures in 2019 over 262 pass rushing snaps. That’s ... not great.

DT Deadrin Senat

2019 stats: 2 games, 1 quarterback hit

Contract: 2 years remaining

Senat’s promising rookie campaign was overshadowed by a forgettable 2019. Inactive most of the year, Senat only logged 21 snaps on defense all year. I can’t explain why or how he came to be forgotten by the coaching staff in 2019. Senat did recently undergo some sort of surgery, but if an injury is the underlying cause, then why didn’t the team just put him on IR? It feels like there must be some additional explanation, although the team is clearly not inclined to share it. In any case, Senat has something to prove in 2020; hopefully the Falcons will give him the chance to do just that.

DE/DT Jacob Tuioti-Mariner

2019 stats: 8 games, 14 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 quarterback hit, 2 hurries, 2 pressures, 1 forced fumble

Contract: Restricted free agent in 2021

Limited sample size warning, but Tuioti-Mariner can defend the run. He showcased his run defense chops during the second half of the season, impressing the coaching staff and making himself a part of their 2020 plans.

DE/DT John Cominsky

2019 stats: 10 games, 11 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 2 quarterback hits, 2 hurries, 3 pressures

Contract: 3 years remaining

Dan Quinn has publicly suggested a potential position change may be in the cards for Cominsky in 2020, which is why I’m including him on this list. Cominsky met and exceeded expectations in 2019, logging 102 snaps on defense. He did miss 6 games because of injury but the motor is undoubtedly there. And at 285 pounds, Cominsky is built to withstand the beating he’d take with a shift inside.

DT Michael Bennett

2019 stats: n/a

Contract: Restricted free agent

Bennett broke his ankle during the first practice of training camp and only played in 2 games in 2018. The Falcons gave him a reserve/futures contract around this time last year, so the front office obviously saw something worth keeping around, notwithstanding a limited sample size. He’s only 26, which is why it wouldn’t shock me if the Falcons keep him around as training camp depth.

DT Ra’Shede Hageman

2019 stats: n/a

Contract: Unrestricted free agent

Hageman’s tumultuous tenure in Atlanta has come to an end ... for a second time. He spent the entire year on IR and the Falcons aren’t likely to bring him back in 2020. Given that Hageman hasn’t played in a professional football game since he logged 2 tackles in the Falcons’ infamous Super Bowl loss, I’d be shocked to see him snag a roster spot on any NFL team anytime soon.

Outlook: Chance of rain

There’s a good chance the Falcons pursue a defensive tackle in the first round of the draft. And no one should hate on them if they do just that. Aside from Jarrett, there’s not much you can count on. While Senat, Tuioti-Mariner, and Cominsky have potential, they are all young and unproven. Re-signing Davison would be another step in the right direction.

What say you Falcoholics? How do you feel about the state of the defensive tackle corps?