Now that free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft draft are (mostly) behind us, it’s time to take a closer look at the Atlanta Falcons’ roster heading in to the summer. Outside of a few additions and subtractions here and there in the course of training camp and the preseason, this is the roster Atlanta will be working with during the 2022 season.
We’ll kick things off with a look at the projected starters and players competing for those spots. Next up is edge rusher. One of the weakest position groups on the roster in 2021, the Falcons have spent considerable resources reshaping it this offseason. Only 2021 fifth-rounder Adetokunbo Ogundeji returns from last year’s roster.
Next up is second-round rookie Arnold Ebiketie.
EDGE Arnold Ebiketie
Contract: $1.76M cap hit in 2022, rookie contract through 2025
Career Production (College): 28 games played | 120 total tackles, 75 solo, 28.5 TFL, 15.5 sacks, 5 FF, 1 PD
2021 Production (College): 12 games played | 62 total tackles, 34 solo, 18.0 TFL, 9.5 sacks, 1 PD, 2 FF
Previous Teams: Drafted in the 2nd Round (38th overall) by the Atlanta Falcons (2022)
The Falcons had a ton of work to do at EDGE this offseason, and it began with the addition of Lorenzo Carter in free agency. But limited salary cap space meant that other moves would need to come in the 2022 NFL Draft, and the first of those was selecting Penn State edge rusher Arnold Ebiketie in the second round. Ebiketie began his college career at Temple, with a quiet first two years before a breakout campaign in COVID-shortened 2020 where he turned heads with 8.5 TFL, 4.0 sacks, and 3 FF in just six games.
He took his talents to Penn State for his senior season, where he’d immediately crack the starting lineup. Ebiketie had his best year yet despite the jump in competition, with career-best numbers in tackles (62 total, 34 solo), TFL (18.0), and sacks (9.5). That led to a very good pre-draft process, where Ebiketie would also turn in an impressive workout at the Combine. While Ebiketie lacks high-end size, he does have above-average length with over 34” arms.
Ebiketie is an elite athlete and a talented pass rusher. He wins with his burst off the snap, where he can blow past slow-footed tackles with ease and has above-average bend to turn the corner. Ebiketie is also a solid run defender who can disrupt plays from the backside and wreak havoc if left unblocked. Another jump in competition is coming for Ebiketie in 2022—can he handle it as well as he did in 2021?
Projection: Arnold Ebiketie is the early favorite for the starting job opposite veteran Lorenzo Carter. He’s the highest-upside pass rusher on the roster and should have a featured role on passing downs in his rookie season. Ebiketie may need to add strength and mass to hold up as a run defender at the NFL level, but he’s an excellent pursuit player and doesn’t lack physicality.