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 2022 third-round rookie DeAngelo Malone.
EDGE DeAngelo Malone
Age: 22 (23 during 2022 season)
Contract: $950K cap hit in 2022, rookie contract through 2025
Career Production (College): 61 games played | 349 total tackles, 183 solo, 59.0 TFL, 32.5 sacks, 8 FF | 7 PD, 1 INT
2021 Production (College): 14 games played | 94 total tackles, 44 solo, 17.5 TFL, 8.0 sacks, 4 FF | 4 PD
Previous Teams: Drafted in the 3rd Round (82nd overall) by the Atlanta Falcons (2022)
The Falcons drastically reshaped their EDGE room this offseason, including two Day 2 picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. We already talked about second-rounder Arnold Ebiketie—now it’s time to give third-rounder DeAngelo Malone his due. Coming out of Western Kentucky, Malone didn’t necessarily generate a lot of headlines compared to some of the Power 5 prospects. But he did generate impressive and consistent production: 59.0 TFL and 32.5 sacks in his five-year career.
Malone is a feisty, relentless edge rusher who dominated his level of competition. At 6’3, 243, he’s on the small side for an NFL EDGE, but physicality is not an issue. He also put up some elite athletic testing at the NFL Combine. Malone wins with a combination of burst, bend, and strength. He’s much fiercer at the point-of-attack than you’d expect for his size—he understands leverage and how to take advantage of it—and he routinely made plays in the run game.
The big question is how well Malone’s game translates to the NFL. On tape, he looks like the complete package outside of some size limitations. But everyone is bigger, faster, and stronger in the NFL. Malone’s fiery personality, high-end athleticism, and competitive toughness give me a lot of hope for his future. It may take some time, but Malone has the makeup of a potential starter.
Projection: DeAngelo Malone should have an early role as a rotational edge rusher and special teams ace in his rookie season. If he develops quickly, he could challenge for a starting role sooner than later.