Atlanta Falcons: Pass Rush Improvement Must Come From Within

Atlanta Falcons, De'Vondre Campbell #59 (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Atlanta Falcons, De'Vondre Campbell #59 (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /
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Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta Falcons, Adrian Clayborn (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The Atlanta Falcons Reserves

Adrian Clayborn has returned to play the edge for the Atlanta Falcons. He replaces Bruce Irvin who signed with the division rival Carolina Panthers. Irvin combined for 6.5 sacks last season between Atlanta and Oakland. Of those sacks, 3.5 came after Irvin joined the Falcons. Adrian Clayborn had 9.5 sacks for the team in 2017, but six of those sacks came in one game against the Dallas Cowboys backup left tackle. Predictably Clayborn saw his sack total dip to 2.5 last year, as a member of the New England Patriots. Adrian Clayborn offers more as an edge setter in the running game and an occasional interior pass rusher, than he does production as a pass rusher at this point in his career.

Journeyman Steven Means is returning to the team in 2019. Means was signed by the Falcons last season, after being released by the Philadelphia Eagles. He collected one sack in eight games for Atlanta. Means only has three sacks in 34 career games, so he can’t be counted on to generate much production for the pass rush. In fact, anything that he provides is a bonus for Atlanta.

Chris Odom is also returning to the Atlanta Falcons. Odom was impressive during the 2017 preseason, registering two sacks and providing a ton of pressure for the Dirty Birds. The Falcons lost Odom when they attempted to sneak him through the waiver wire and onto the practice squad. He was claimed by and appeared in seven games for the Green Bay Packers, but did not pick up a sack. He spent last season in the now defunct AAF for the Salt Lake Stallions. Odom had 2.5 sacks in eight games and another in the preseason.

John Cominski, the Atlanta Falcons round four draft pick out of the University of Charleston, is a hybrid player who will moonlight between defensive end on running downs and defensive tackle on passing downs. He’s more of an edge setter in the run game, than an edge rusher. Read all about Cominski hereJacob Tuioti-Mariner rounds out the defensive end depth for Atlanta, after signing a futures contract earlier this year. Weighing 285 pounds, Tuioti-Mariner is also more of a run defender. The former teammate of Takk McKinley did have 7.5 sacks for UCLA in 2017, after replacing Takk as the team’s primary pass rusher.