In part one of our D-line position battles, we covered DE Kroy Biermann and DT Jonathan Babineaux. Both of these players will definitely make the roster and will see a significant amount of playing time, particularly Babineaux who should retain his starting DT position.
You may find the first part of the article here.
This article will discuss those who are actually fighting for a roster spot and potentially a starting position.
DEFENSIVE END: MALLICIAH GOODMAN
Goodman was drafted in the 4th round this year in the NFL draft out of Clemson. Standing at 6'4 and weighing 276 pounds, Goodman possess the size of an NFL DE. Goodman only played full time in his last two seasons for the Tigers, but consistently improved each year he played.
He went from averaging 1.67 sacks and 4.3 tackles for loss in his first three seasons to amassing career highs in both statistical categories with 7 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss in his senior year.
This could be a project for the Falcons for a couple of years. Goodman took two seasons before he started and played three seasons before he began to play at a high level for Clemson. This trend could continue as there will be a learning curve for Goodman in his transition to the NFL.
But he will get his shot in training camp like most of the DEs on the roster because it is a thin position for the Falcons.
Look for Goodman to get a lot of snaps in the preseason so that coach Mike Smith and Defensive Coordinator Mike Nolan can get a good look at the rookie to determine if Goodman is ready to play at the NFL level at this point in his young career. Even if he isn't, he's definitely one to watch as his track record has proven that he gets better and better with experience.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE: PERIA JERRY
Jerry has been a disappointment for the Falcons. Drafted in the first round by Thomas Dimitroff in 2009 with the 24th overall pick, Jerry was projected to be a true force in the middle of the Falcons defense.
It certainly hasn't panned out for him that way however. Over his four years in the NFL, Jerry has only averaged 1.5 tackles for loss per season. He only has two sacks in his career, and those came in 2010. He doesn't even get to the ball carrier that much, only averaging 6.5 tackles per season thus far.
Jerry has been overmatched by offensive linemen in his NFL career. His lack of being able to penetrate into the backfield to stop running backs or get any pressure on the opposing QB has been nearly non existent during his NFL career.
This may be Jerry's final chance to really make an impact this season. Corey Peters was injured last season, but has proven to be slightly more effective than Jerry in terms of his production during his career.
With Peters healthy, one has to think that Jerry's spot is in jeopardy. Look for Jerry to get his share of snaps to spell Babineaux and Peters, but it does not appear that given Jerry's disappointing track record, that he is going to see the majority of the playing time at DT this season.
What are your thoughts on these two players, and where do you see them fitting into the Falcons defensive plans?
Let us know in the comments section.
Tags: Atlanta, Atlanta Falcons, Clemson, Defensive End, Defensive Tackle, Football, Goodman, Jonathan Babineaux, Kroy Biermann, Malliciah Goodman, NFL, Peria Jerry, Thomas Dimitroff