The Atlanta Falcons signed Adrian Clayborn to a one year deal today. This move fortifies the defensive line by bringing back a player that has produced in Dan Quinn’s system. Clayborn left for New England after a 9.5 sack season for Atlanta, but only had 2.5 during his time with the Patriots.
The one year deal is a flyer for the Atlanta Falcons that can free up some options of what Thomas Dimitrov and Dan Quinn want to do in the first round of the draft. If Clayborn can produce half of what he did in 2018 with the Falcons, this deal will be more than worth it. But if he can’t produce like he once did, this deal can still be valuable for the Falcons by adding a veteran presence for some of the younger defensive line players, who still need some maturation if they want to start producing to the level they are capable of.
Adrian Clayborn had a lackluster year with the Patriots when it came to sacks. However, that didn’t mean he didn’t produce for the Patriots. Yes, the 2.5 sack number isn’t a good looking number, but Clayborn was able to hit the QB 13 times last season. For the Falcons last season, that would only be behind Grady Jarret and Takk McKinnley.
The Falcons need sacks, but they also need QB pressure and hits. Clayborn hasn’t always been the biggest sack guy in his career, only posting more than 5 sack 3 out of his 8 seasons, but a guy who can consistently get to the QB for a defense. The more the Falcons can hit the QB, the better this defense will be. And after last season, the Falcons need all the help they can get hitting the QB.
By signing Clayborn before the draft, that signals to me that the Falcons aren’t leaning defense with their first-round draft pick. Clayborn is just one player, and by no means a game changer who will solve all of Atlanta’s defensive problems, but he’s a player who will play a lot of snaps for Atlanta. That makes me think Atlanta will look to address the offensive line with their first-round pick. The offensive line was a big weakness for Atlanta last season, and protecting Matt Ryan should always be the number one priority in Atlanta. With such a defensive heavy draft and teams in desperate need of quarterback’s, Thomas Dimitrov could see an opportunity to get a game-changing offensive lineman in the middle of the first round.
The Falcons first-round pick has been widely assumed that it would be used on a defensive guy. With players like Jonah Williams, Jawaan Taylor, and Andre Dillard possibly being there when the Falcons make their pick, an offensive lineman could be the pick for the Falcons at that spot. Personally, I think that would be a disaster for the Falcons.
This draft is so deep with defensive guys someone like Christian Wilkins or Ed Oliver could be there at the 14th pick. Wilkins or Oliver are guys who will come in as starters on day one. The offensive line is an area that can be addressed later in the draft. I just don’t feel like Dan Quinn will be able to pass up an opportunity to draft a defensive lineman that can come in and make an impact instantly.
The Falcons are a need in urgent need of defensive help. The offensive line was a mess last season, but the offense still performed as one of the better in the league. The defense did not. Making the move for Adrian Clayborn locks down one of the defensive line spots, but the Falcons don’t need to stop there.
If Atlanta can get a player like Ed Oliver or Christian Wilkins, they have to jump on that chance. The Falcons won’t be able to patchwork a defensive line if they neglect that area in the draft. It’s possible to have a good offense, if not better than last season, with the offensive line constructed as today. Clayborn is a good start, but the Falcons need to take it a step further.