Deadrin Senat: X Factor for the Atlanta Falcons Defense

Atlanta Falcons, Deadrin Senat (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Atlanta Falcons, Deadrin Senat (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

The Atlanta Falcons chose to forgo beefing up the defensive line in this year’s draft, instead choosing to bolster the offensive side of the trenches. That means experienced options need to step up, in order for the defensive line to be adequate. Deadrin Senat will have a big say, in how effective the Falcons are at stopping the run.

Now that the Atlanta Falcons have put major resources into fixing the offensive line, the concern for most fans has shifted to the defensive line. Grady Jarrett returns as the starting three technique defensive tackle. Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley continue to hold down the edges of Atlanta’s defense. The position on the defensive line that is in question, is the one technique defensive tackle. That is an important position, especially in regards to stopping the run.

Dontari Poe anchored the Atlanta Falcons top ten run defense in 2017, before departing for the division rival Carolina Panthers. Terrell McClain was signed as a stop-gap to replace Poe, but was mostly ineffective. This caused Grady Jarrett to have to play many snaps at the one technique, while Jack Crawford who is more of an interior pass rusher than a run defender, started 11 games at the three technique. The result was Jarrett seeing many more double teams.

Ra’Shede Hageman is back after being away from football for two years. Weighing 318 pounds, Hageman has the size and power to play the one technique defensive tackle position and draw some double teams. He also has a knack for blocking kicks. The Atlanta Falcons also have Michael Bennett IV (the other Michael Bennett), Jacob Tuioti-Mariner and Justin Zimmer, so the depth is certainly there, but is the quality there? Tyler Davison who came over from the New Orleans Saints, the Atlanta Falcons biggest rival, is certainly a quality player. He adds a valuable run stuffing defensive tackle, with the experience of starting 48 games and at a low cost to boot. He is the favorite to start at the one technique defensive tackle spot for the Falcons. This Atl All Day article takes a closer look at the signing of Davison.

The true X factor in the defensive tackle equation is Deadrin Senat. He was a third round draft pick prior to last season, from the University of South Florida. Standing just 6’1 and weighing 305 pounds, Senat is a shorter, stocky defensive tackle, in the mold of Brandon Mebane who plays for the Los Angeles Chargers. Mebane helped anchor the Seattle Seahawks run defense, when Falcons’ head coach Dan Quinn was the defensive coordinator there. Deadrin Senat is a very strong man, as proven by his 35 bench press reps at the 2018 NFL Combine. He has certainly gotten stronger and his development from year one to year two, should be significant.

Deadrin Senat gave the Atlanta Falcons solid play as a rookie last season In limited snaps. His 370 snaps ranked fourth among Atlanta Interior defenders. He did see 15 games of action in the team’s defensive tackle rotation, starting twice. His 30 total tackles were third on the team among his position group. He also added two tackles for a loss, ten quarterback pressures, three quarterback hits and forced one fumble. Senate also showed good discipline by committing only one penalty all season.

Pro Football Focus gave Deadrin Senat an overall grade of 71.8, which ranked number seven on the Atlanta Falcons defense. His run defense grade of 66.3, ranked fourth among Atlanta defensive tackles behind Grady Jarrett, Jack Crawford who is expected to be used mostly in passing situations and Tyler Davidson (with New Orleans). Senat was decent as a pass rusher too when given the opportunity. He ranked second among the Falcons interior defenders, with a grade of 68.7.

Deadrin Senat showed flashes that let the Atlanta Falcons know he is fully capable of being a quality NFL player. He made a few plays in which he sliced his way through a gap and got quickly into the backfield. He also showed promise as a pass rusher. This is consistent with his senior year of college in which Senat racked up 10.5 tackles for a loss and six sacks.

These colleges highlights posted by the Atlanta Falcons YouTube channel shown the type of plays that Deadrin Senat is capable of making:

With Ra’Shede Hageman being out of Football for two seasons, he can’t be counted on to play major snaps out of the gate. Even before his hiatus, Hageman has never posed as PFF grade as high as Deadrin Senat did last season. Ra’Shede earned career best grades of 67.8 overall, 63.7 run defense and 66.7 pass rush for the 2016 season. Tyler Davidson is a very good run defender, but he is only one man, that is just on a one year deal with Atlanta.

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Deadrin Senat taking the next step in his NFL development, would certainly be in the best interest of the Atlanta Falcons long-term. His improvement would ensure that the Atlanta Falcons could always have a quality run defender on the field, while rotating players to keep them fresh. It keeps Grady Jarrett out of the one technique spot on running downs and away from double teams. That is a luxury the Atlanta Falcons haven’t had in quite some time, but one that could prove critical to the Atlanta Falcons having a top ten defense in the 2019 NFL season.

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