Atlanta loves a good run-stopping defensive tackle. They’ve brought through the likes of Grady Jackson, Paul Soliai, Tyeler Davison, Tyson Jackson, and to a lesser extent Dontari Poe in recent years, and they used draft picks on the likes of Deadrin Senat and Corey Peters to bolster the group.
That’s why I have to imagine Dan Quinn’s eyes lit up when he learned that Damon “Snacks” Harrison was just released by the Lions. Could the Falcons be one of the teams interested in his service, given that they’re thin at defensive tackle and have prioritized those run-stopping types in the not-too-distant past?
The answer is a yes, with significant qualifications.
Let’s start with Harrison’s play. Last year was the worst season of his career, which is why the Lions felt comfortable dropping him in the first place. He missed a lot of tackles—18% of his opportunities, per Pro Football Reference—and wasn’t the run-stopping demon he has been throughout his career. An injury cost him a game and the Lions were putrid on defense across the board, but it’s fair to wonder whether Harrison is beginning to decline. If so, Atlanta might not be willing to pony up for him if bidding gets competitive.
The second question is whether Harrison is a necessary piece or not. The Falcons haven’t even taken the dust jacket off of Deadrin Senat yet, but they drafted him specifically because he was an effective run stopper in college. Jacob Tuioti-Mariner also looked promising in that regard and can play inside, while John Cominsky has promise and also could be primed for a move to the interior. Given that—and given the possibility of re-signing the much younger Tyeler Davison for cheap—I’m not entirely sure Harrison is the right fit. I think you can make a more persuasive case for a defensive tackle who can rush the passer.
So the long and short of it is that I’d expect the Falcons to at least express some interest in Harrison, but I’m not sure he ultimately joins up.