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 defensive tackle. This unit has undergone few changes this offseason, with Pro Bowl veteran Grady Jarrett, ascending nose tackle Anthony Rush, former second-rounder Marlon Davidson, and 2021 fifth-rounder Ta’Quon Graham all returning for 2022.
Next up, former second-rounder Marlon Davidson.
DT Marlon Davidson
Contract: $1.89M cap hit in 2022, rookie contract through 2023
Career Production: 19 games played, 1 game started | 29 total tackles, 14 solo, 1.0 TFL | 3 total pressures, 1.0 sack, 2 PD, 1 INT, 1 TD
2021 Production: 11 games played, 1 game started | 21 total tackles, 9 solo, 1.0 TFL | 2 total pressures, 1.0 sack, 1 PD, 1 INT, 1 TD | 55.1 overall PFF grade
Previous Teams: Drafted in the 2nd Round (47th overall) by the Atlanta Falcons (2020-present)
Thomas Dimitroff drafted a number of positions well, but the one he absolutely could not get right was defensive line. Out of 16 total picks from 2008-2020, only two became Pro Bowl-caliber players (Vic Beasley, Grady Jarrett) and I’d consider only three others to be “hits” as good return-on-investment: Kroy Biermann (5th, 2008), Vance Walker (7th, 2009), and Corey Peters (3rd, 2010). That’s a 31% hit rate at one of the most important positions in football. Oof!
Dimitroff’s final pick on the DL was Auburn’s Marlon Davidson in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Davidson was heralded as a versatile inside/outside player (perfect for Quinn’s preferences) who played with strength and a nasty edge. He raised eyebrows in training camp for some of his comments about his love for the physicality of football. Fans were excited to get a “big nasty” on the interior, but they wouldn’t see much of him in 2020. Injuries and an extended stay on the COVID list limited Davidson to just eight games and 132 snaps in his rookie season.
In 2021 under a new staff and scheme, the hope was that Davidson could finally get a healthy offseason under his belt and be the force next to Grady Jarrett that we all hoped for. In theory, he should also be a good fit as a 3-4 DE in Dean Pees’ scheme. Unfortunately, Davidson dealt with injuries and COVID once again and played just 270 snaps in 11 games. Davidson has the talent to be an impact player, but 2022 will be a pivotal season for his NFL future. I’d be surprised if he loses his roster spot, but he’s not as safe as you’d expect a former second-round pick to be.
Projection: Marlon Davidson is facing an important third NFL season. He’s clearly got the talent and could be a good fit as a 3-4 DE, but he’ll have to stay healthy and fend off competition from an active group of veterans and UDFAs to earn a long-term future with the Falcons.