We’re finally approaching the beginning of the 2020 NFL season, with only a few weeks left until the first games kick off. I’ll be continuing my Player Profile series in the meantime, where we’ll take a look at each of the players on Atlanta’s roster. I’ll break down their measurables, past production, and try to project their 2020 season with the Falcons.
After taking a look at the projected starters, we now turn our attention to the depth on the Falcons’ roster. Today I’ll be discussing EDGE Steven Means—a veteran reserve who played well in 2018 before suffering a season-ending injury prior to the 2019 season.
EDGE Steven Means
Age: 29 (30 during 2020 season)
Contract: $770K cap hit in 2020, free agent in 2021
Career Production: 34 games played, 4 games started | 26 total tackles, 5.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks, 5 QB hits, 1 FF | 62.5 overall PFF grade
2019 Production: Suffered a season-ending injury in training camp
Previous Teams: Drafted in the 5th round (#147 overall) by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2013-2014), Baltimore Ravens (2014-2015), Houston Texans (2015), Philadelphia Eagles (2015-2017), Atlanta Falcons (2018-present)
Measurables: 6’3, 263, 34 5/8” arm length, 9.75” hand size | 4.68s 40-yard dash, 1.64s 10-yard split | 7.26s 3-cone, 4.31s 20-yard shuttle | 38.5” vertical jump, 128” broad jump | 21 bench reps
After an injury-plagued 2018 season, the Falcons were serious about improving the depth across the roster. One of those depth players who proved himself as a valuable contributor was veteran Steven Means, who joined Atlanta as a free agent prior to the 2018 season. That performance was enough to earn Means a two-year extension heading into 2019. Unfortunately, Means would suffering a season-ending injury prior to the start of the season and spent the whole year on IR. The Falcons kept him around, however, which means there’s still a chance for Means to have a role in 2020.
Means began his career as a fifth-round pick of the Buccaneers, but he barely played during his first season and struggled when he was on the field. Means made it only one week in the 2014 season before being cut, but he’d wind up on the Ravens practice squad in October. Thus began a two-year cycle of bouncing around between practice squads, where he spent time with Baltimore and Houston. Finally, Means got an opportunity on the active roster of the Eagles late in 2015.
While he never played more than a handful of snaps for the Eagles, the team liked him enough to bring him back for both 2016 and 2017. In limited snaps, Means graded out with an above-average 68.5 PFF grade in 2016 and a solid 62.0 in 2017—the strongest marks of his career to this point. He was let go at final cuts prior to the 2018 season, and the Falcons pounced on the opportunity to add him. Means then had the best season of his NFL career as a reserve in Atlanta, playing about 15% of the total snaps and starting 4 games. While Means didn’t light up the stat sheet (14 total tackles, 0% missed tackle rate, 3.0 TFL, 1.0 sacks), he posted a very good 73.4 overall PFF grade.
We didn’t get to see what sort of role the Falcons had envisioned for Means in 2019—I suspect he would’ve been a rotational pass rusher and run defender once again—but the team liked him enough to bring him back despite a pretty serious injury. His quality athleticism, size, and low price tag all help bolster his case for a roster spot.
Projection: Steven Means impressed the team enough in a reserve role in 2018 that they kept him heading into 2020 despite a serious injury. Means is a good athlete with the ability to contribute against both the run and pass, and he seems like he’s finally put it together as a player. Means may have to beat out former first-round pick Charles Harris for a roster spot, but he’s got a strong chance of making the roster if he’s healthy.