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Young Falcons will get an opportunity to seize roles on the defensive line

An injury to Vincent Taylor and Eddie Goldman’s unexpected retirement opens things up, at least for now.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Atlanta Falcons Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Falcons’ defensive line does not rate the same level of concern as the Falcons’ offensive line, for the simple reason that it was not the same level of a rolling disaster last year as the offensive side. That doesn’t mean that the defensive line is settled, however, and that’s even more true now than it was a couple of weeks ago.

Eddie Goldman’s surprising retirement and Vincent Taylor’s ruptured Achilles have taken two contenders for significant roles out of the equation, leaving Grady Jarrett, Anthony Rush, and a bunch of young players still looking to established themselves in the league. With only Darrion Daniels signed recently and no indications that the team is looking to add more options at the moment, this is the time when young Falcons can make a big push for roles in 2022.

That might mean good things for Ta’Quon Graham, a 2021 draft pick who came on strong late in the season and has looked solid thus far in 2022, per Arthur Smith. It might mean the long-awaited breakout season for Marlon Davidson, who new writer Ashton Edmunds says is finally healthy this summer. Perhaps it will be Daniels or Jalen Dalton making a splash in a new home, or an undrafted free agent like Timothy Horne or Derrick Tangelo, given that both have impressed in the early going.

Regardless of who emerges—and the hope is that someone does—this is the best moment those players have to prove themselves. Goldman almost certainly would have stepped into a significant role and Taylor was at least a strong bet for a roster spot, and the vacuum that duo leaves behind has to be filled by capable players if this defense is going to be up to snuff in 2022. Atlanta’s likely to shuffle the bottom of the roster again soon enough and will almost certainly be hunting for bargain additions after roster cutdowns, so it would behoove players like Graham, Davidson, Tangelo, and others to make their case now and lock in roles before change comes to this defensive line group.