On a very young and inexperienced defense, Babineaux surely will be one of the veterans on defense charged with helping a lot of young and talented players mold into a formidable unit. He will likely benefit from the attention paid to the other defensive tackle position through the draft, taking Peria Jerry in the 1st and local favorite Vance Walker from Georgia Tech in the seventh, whom many pundits called a steal. The brief questioning into Babineaux’s character seems to have subsided since there has been nothing but hard work and exemplary moral fiber exhibited since a small personal hiccup. While rushing the passer is a huge part of being a defensive tackles, the D-Line’s biggest area for improvement needs to come in stopping the run. Will Babineaux’s lighter frame be a liability in run defense to a team in desperate need of improvement in that area? Even though we may have given up a ton of occupying space in Big Grady, will Babineaux be able to have a Pro-Bowl worthy year with increased athleticism, ability, and youth at the other D-Tackle position in Jerry and Lewis?
A Good Progression?
2005 – 16 Games, 6 Games Started; 39 Total Tackles, 0.5 Sack, 1 Pass Defenses
2006 – 16 Games, 1 Game Started; 28 Total Tackles, 1 Sack, 2 Pass Defenses
2007 – 14 Games, 9 Games Started; 44 Total Tackles, 3 Sacks, 3 Pass Defenses
2008 – 16 Games, 16 Games Started; 39 Total Tackles, 3.5 Sacks, 3 Pass Defenses
Who Takes Defensive Tackle Spot #4?
What a difference a year or two can make in the life of an NFL organization. Only a few years ago saw Falcons fans arguing who would be worthy of either of the two starting defensive tackle spots, and now an argument goes to who can make the roster by filling a backup spot through a hard, tough-fought competition. There is a small possibility that the Falcons carry 5 DT’s, but with all the competition across the entire team, it seems as though carrying a 5th Defensive Tackle seems unlikely due to their assumed lack of production on special teams. Simon Fraser initially made in on as a 5th defensive tackle, but was waived during the season. Also take into account that we will definitely be carrying a 5th defensive end with the drafting of Lawrence Sidbury. Taking a safe assumption that Babs, PJerry, and TLewis are healthy and locks for the top 3 DT spots, that leaves a rough and tumble fight for the 4th spot, which is key for likely playing time considering that Dimitroff and Smitty have no problem in starting or playing rookies significantly (see Matt Ryan, Sam Baker, Curtis Lofton, Harry Douglas, Chevis Jackson, and Kroy Biermann). It looks to be a three-way fight for the 4th and final defensive tackles roster spot. A look at the candidates:
Vance Walker – #61 Height – 6′2, Weight – 304; 40 time – 5.32, Bench Reps x 225 – 29 Drafted in the Seventh Round in this year’s draft Bio – Dimitroff continued a trend of taking a late round chance on local products with the selection of Georgia Tech product in Vance Walker, after taking Thomas Brown from UGA in last year’s draft. Generally considered a potential steal of the draft. Walker was extremely productive at Georgia Tech getting 29 starts in college with 11.5 sacks and being named to the First Team All-ACC in years 2007 and 2008, and even getting Third Team All-American honors in 2007. Terrific speed and quickness and a burst, plays with a nasty demeanor. Average size and bulk, doesn’t use hands real well. Not a sack artist.* *Analysis from Draftcountdown.com
Thomas Johnson – #93 Height – 6′2, Weight – 305; NFL Experience – 2 years Bio – Signed by the Dallas Cowboys as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2005 out of MTSU. Bounced around to several different teams rosters and practice squads including the Houston Texans, New York Jets, and Atlanta Falcons to a reserve/futures contract. Played 11 games for the Texans, starting 3 games, and collaring 19 total tackles and 1 pass defense. Johnson has drawn rave reviews from Coach Van Gorder for his solid work in the off-season. Will be in a good position to win a 5th defensive tackle spot if the Falcons keep 5. Will be tough for Johnson to beat out draft pick Walker for a 4th spot. Maybe a good non-active roster spot or practice squad.
Jason Jefferson – #99 Height – 6′1, Weight – 297; NFL Experience – 4 years Bio – Originally drafted in the sixth round by New Orleans in 2005. Waived by the Saints in 2005 and signed on to the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad, and subsequently settling with the Buffalo Bills for many years. Jefferson played in 21 games over a 3 year span and totaling 13 tackles. Main backup defensive tackle for the Falcons, playing in 13 games and staring 1, achieving a career high 13 tackles. Although productive last year, faces an uphill battle with the influx of rookies Peria Jerry and Vance Walker, and the return of a healthy Trey Lewis.
Tywain Myles – #91 Height – 6′2, Weight – 304; Bio – Signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Jacksonville Jaguars out Tartleton State. As a senior at Tarleton State Myles totaled 47 tackles (20 solo), 10 tackles for a loss, six sacks, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Signed to the Falcons practice squad in December of 2008. Not too much known on Miles as he looks to be facing a steep battle to earn a 4th or 5th spot.
Will Falcons Carry 5 DTs?
With so much talent and depth on the defensive line, the Falcons may very well decide to carry 5 D-Tackles, in which case Johnson, Jefferson, or Miles would have a better shot. In selecting Vance Walker in the seventh round, Dimitroff certainly continued a good tradition of taking a chance on homegrown talent in the late rounds from the two biggest universities (and rivals) in the state of Georgia (last year, Thomas Brown – UGA; 6th round). Hailed by many draft experts as a late round steal, Walker potentially has the biggest upside combining youth and ability. Jason Jefferson can be seen as having the closest inside track after making the 53-man protected last year and getting to know the system, coaches, and expectations as a backup player. The wildcard is Thomas Johnson, who has excellent size and ability to shock the world and come out of nowhere to make the squad. Tywain Myles looks to be somewhat of a long shot to make the team, but does know the coaches Smith, Hamilton, and Van Gorder from Jacksonville.
Daily Tailgating Recipe
Good and easy chicken-philly steak No Huddle Hoagies, courtesy of Men’s Health: A Man, A Can, A Tailgate Plan.