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Eyes of the Guru Preseason Part 4: NFC South

An overview of defenses in the NFC South with an emphasis on individual defensive players and their fantasy value.

Atlanta Falcons

Defensive Linemen

It has been a while since the Falcons last had a good defense and it will be at least another year or two before they have one again. That said, the organization is on the right track. When Dan Quinn and Rick Smith took over as head coach and defensive coordinator respectively last year, they did not have much to work with. They added a piece or two on defense before last season including eighth overall pick Vic Beasley, but were not able to make a big splash on that side of the ball until this offseason. Even then some of the personnel decisions have been head scratchers.

Atlanta finished dead last in sacks last season with 19, so improving the pass rush has to be among the top priorities. First it was announced they would move Beasley to strong side linebacker in the same role Bruce Irvin played under Quinn in Seattle. That move made sense because Irvin was often turned loose to rush the passer. Then the Falcons signed Courtney Upshaw from the Ravens to play the same position which does not seem to make much sense; especially considering they still have Brooks Reed who has basically the same skill set. Then, instead of adding a pass rushing end the Falcons elected to commit most of their draft resources to improve the talent at linebacker and safety. There is sure to be a master plan in all of this but it is clear as mud from the outside looking in as we approach training camp.