Falcons’ Rookie Defender Has Solid NFL Debut vs. Saints

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Getty Head coach Arthur Smith of the Atlanta Falcons.

Atlanta Falcons’ 2022 second-round pick, Arnold Ebiketie, was one of the brighter spots on Sunday as he recorded his first career sack in his official NFL debut.

The rookie pass rusher played 26 defensive snaps in his NFL debut. He logged his first big-league tackle on New Orleans Saints wide receiver Alvin Kamara and followed up with a sack on Jameis Winston a few plays later.

And according to Ebiketie, he’s just getting started.


Ebiketie AKA the ‘Doctor Of Pass Rush’

So, if you can’t pronounce Arnold’s last name correctly, that’s no problem. You can just call him “Dr.”, aka the ‘doctor of pass rush,’ which is what he goes by according to his official Twitter account.

Ebiketie is a 6-4, 235-pound defensive end from Kensington, MD. He spent the first four years of his collegiate career a Temple University before transferring to Penn State for his final year of eligibility.

In one season as a Nittany Lion, he finished second in the Big Ten in tackles for loss with 18 and third in sacks with 9.5. He also earned second-team All-America honors.

Ebiketie was projected to be the seventh-best player available on day 2 of this year’s draft, per NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah. Below is Jeremiah’s official scouting report on the “Dr.” that was drawn up ahead of the draft:

Ebiketie is a long, twitched-up edge rusher with a nonstop motor. He has an explosive get-off and routinely rocks offensive tackles with the power in his hands. He charges upfield before powering through the outside shoulder. He also has a violent swipe move and will occasionally cross the face of the tackle with a nifty inside counter move. He can really corner and finish at the top of his rush. He isn’t as dominant against the run, however. He ducks his head too often and gets washed by OTs and TEs. He lacks ideal block awareness, too. Still, the effort is always there to hustle and chase from the back side. Overall, Ebiketie is a gifted rusher who should rack up pressures/sacks while he learns to play the run with more consistency.

We should see Ebiketie jump into more of a primary role on a Falcons defense that managed a league-low 18 sacks last year.


Ebiketie Wasn’t the Only Bright Spot on Defense 

The Falcons’ rookie defender wasn’t the only bright spot on Atlanta’s defense before the fourth quarter crumble.

Third-year linebacker Mykal Walker also had a solid day, tallying two tackles for loss and a sack.

From sitting behind Deion Jones for two seasons to becoming Deen Pees’ primary signal caller on defense this year, Walker has taken big strides in a short amount of time.

The fourth-round pick out of Fresno State in 2020 started two games last season, recording 35 total tackles in 17 games.

Walker’s growth has been a big topic this offseason.

“He’s got more confidence in that position,” Falcons’ head coach Arthur Smith told reporters on September 9, via Sports Illustrated. “You can hear him at practice; that’s what we push the guys to do. Great defenses usually got guys that are great communicators.”

Veteran Grady Jarrett also chipped in 1.5 sacks with Lorenzo Carter teaming up with Jarrett on the half sack in the Falcons’ 27-26 Week 1 loss to the Saints.

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