The Atlanta Falcons had the fewest sacks in the league last year with a mere 18, and defensive coordinator Dean Pees is entering the new season with an emphasis on interior pass rush.
"If we stay healthy, I feel good about these guys," Pees said. "I feel like there's some guys that can rotate in there and play different roles, and also give guys a break, and not have somebody have to play 65-70 snaps in a game, so I'm hoping we can keep that going."
One of those guys is Ta'Quon Graham, a 2021 fifth-round pick out of Texas.
While the 23-year-old started five games during his rookie campaign, he's still searching for his first career sack. However, Atlanta drafted Graham knowing he's a big-time athlete (90th percentile in 40-yard dash and broad jump) with untapped potential as a pass rusher.
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Graham totaled 17.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks over the final 21 games of his Longhorns career and notched two tackles for loss in his opening NFL season. During camp, the Falcons will hope to see an improved plan of attack from Graham, a clear sign that he's poised to make the common second-year jump.
"Based on this last game with Detroit, he really showed up," Pees said. "He was very noticeable, making plays, so yeah, I'd say he made a big jump."
The Falcons need somebody to step up inside, and Graham, now equipped with 13 games of experience and a full offseason under his belt, will be given an opportunity to prove he can solve Atlanta's interior pass rush woes.