3 Falcons Defenders to Watch Against the Packers
Atlanta’s defense is not great. No one debates that. The Falcons have surrendered 30 or more points six times this season and 28 or more points nine times. They will give up points and they will give them up in bunches.
However, that’s not to say that their defense is not without talent. Here are three players to watch as the Packers head to Atlanta on Sunday.
DE/OLB Vic Beasley - 6-3, 246
Despite not fitting the mold as either a conventional defensive end or pass rushing outside linebacker, Beasley led the NFL with 15.5 sacks this season. The second year man out of Clemson is an explosive athlete: he posted a 4.56 40-yard dash, 41-inch vertical leap, and 35 reps on the bench press at the 2015 NFL Combine. At that height and weight, his speed score is comparable to that of Adrian Peterson. He can move.
Beasley will rush the Packers from all angles, and after securing one sack in the teams’ first meeting, he’ll surely be looking for more on Sunday. Both Bryan Bulaga and David Bakhtiari were hobbled at times by injury during the Dallas game, so their battles with Beasley could have an added element of intrigue.
SS Keanu Neal - 6-0, 211
Neal is the prototypical hybrid safety for today’s NFL. Part safety and part linebacker, Neal likes to hit and hit hard. His pre-draft scouting report took notice, describing him as someone who “plays with desperation and rarely tires.”
The results haven’t shown up in the traditional stat sheet so far this season: Neal has yet to force a force a fumble, record an interception, or make a sack in fifteen games, counting the playoffs. Still, Neal is a physical presence the Packers will have to account for on Sunday.
CB Jalen Collins - 6-1, 203
Tall and fast, Collins is everything you’d want in an NFL cornerback, and he’s performed reasonably well as a rookie. This despite facing increased pressure with the injury to Desmond Trufant, the Falcons’ excellent corner whom they hoped to pair with Collins on the back end of their defense.
Collins only played eight regular season games this year, but he started six and managed to get himself two interceptions for his trouble. And despite this lack of playing time, he was the 17th best corner in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus.