After a Q&A episode of the Locked on Falcons podcast, there are usually a couple of listener questions that I’m unable to answer. Those unanswered questions get resolved here on a “leftovers” mailbag post on the website.
This week we only have one leftover question, but it’s a good one. So let’s get started!
Keep Three, Cut One of the Falcons Emerging Young Defenders
I’ll give you 4 names; Takk McKinley, Grady Jarett, Keanu Neal, Deion Jones and you keep 3, cut 1. Don’t look at roster depth or team needs, just look at players and choose. Also explain why?
— Zamir Sabanovic
This is a great question, Zamir. Although I will let you know now up front that I’m going to weasel out of giving you a direct answer. Instead, I will make a case for choosing all four players you mentioned as the cut ones. And I’ll let you readers decide which is the most compelling argument.
The Case Against Takk McKinley
If I were to choose to cut Takk, the argument against him stems from the fact that he’s the least known commodity among the quartet of players chosen. We already have a good idea that Grady Jarrett, Keanu Neal and Deion Jones are Pro Bowlers, but we don’t know that yet with Takk. And one can argue that the former three are also already or on the verge of being among the best players at their positions.
Takk certainly has the skill and potential to get to a high level and many people expect big things out of the former first-round pick in his second season in Atlanta.
However, one could argue that Takk is not an especially talented defensive end to think that he’s going to be among the premier players at his position. A good one? Yes. But a great one? No. And thus, relative to his position, Takk might be the least talented of this group.
Yet given the fact that he has the ability to directly affect the quarterback with his pass-rushing skills, which is widely considered to be the most valuable role on any defense, it’s hard to eliminate a good pass-rusher even if he doesn’t have the potential to be great.
The Case Against Grady Jarrett
The argument I would levy at why Jarrett is the best choice to cut is probably due to the fact that among this group, he potentially has the least amount of impact against the pass.
Jarrett shined as a run defender in 2017, but as a pass-rusher, he wasn’t anything exceptional. Certainly, Jarrett was good, but Aaron Donald he is not.
Given that it is a “passing league,” one could argue that among this group he is the one that impacts there the least.
The Case Against Keanu Neal
Probably the way I would approach the case to cut Neal would center on the fact that he plays the safety position. And as such, he has probably the shortest shelf life among this group.
Thus if we’re framing this as the player that is least likely to be playing for your team in five years as the most expendable, then Neal is probably the safest choice given the position he plays and his physical playing style probably won’t help matters (although we can always hope that he is the next Lawyer Milloy).
The Case Against Deion Jones
Similar to Neal, playing inside linebacker doesn’t necessarily lead to longevity given that it too is a physical position, so that’s one mark against Jones.
The other argument for why Jones should be the player cut is that one can say that he is not the most complete player among this group. The things that Jones is good at, he is exceptional at. But there are some things that Jones is not so great at, and so one could make a case that he is only “half of a great” player and therefore is expendable.
Although even as I type that, I become less convinced of its legitimacy.
So there are four cases against each player, although you be the judge of how compelling they are. I feel like all four players are core pieces to not only the building of the Falcons defense, but would be on any defense, so it’s hard to choose which player is the “least essential.”
All the arguments made against each player, I’m not sure I buy them myself, so it’s hard to choose which one makes the most sense and thus I won’t make a choice and instead deflect them back to you, the readers, to see which one you buy.
By all means, make your own cases against one or more players in the comments below.
I hope you enjoyed this leftover mailbag. We’ll be sure to do another once we get several practices under our belt once training camp starts later this week.
Preseason Week 2 Q&A
Aaron reviews the Falcons vs. Chiefs preseason action from last week and answers listeners questions. He discusses:
- Damontae Kazee pushing Ricardo Allen as a starter
- Standout undrafted rookies like Anthony Winbush and Jon Celestin
- Grady Jarrett’s Pro Bowl potential
- Duke Riley’s progress
- Marvin Hall’s role
- Steve Sarkisian’s play-calling
- How Calvin Ridley matches up with corners in the NFC South
- Making adjustments to his practice squad and 53-man roster projections from earlier this summer.
Rapid Reaction to Preseason Loss to Chiefs
Aaron reacts to the Falcons 28-14 loss to the Chiefs in their second preseason game. He goes position by position, breaking down the standouts and struggles including Calvin Ridley’s breakout performance and potential to impact as a returner, the battles at tight end and right guard, the improvement from Duke Riley and thoughts on the new helmet penalty.
Preseason Week 2 vs. Chiefs Preview
Aaron previews tonight’s preseason action between the Falcons and Chiefs. He goes position by position, discussing the team’s QB rotation, seeing more of Calvin Ridley, the battle at right guard, tweaking the DT rotation, potential shifts in secondary roles and more.
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