Kaden Ellis Atlanta Falcons Best Kept Secret former New Orleans Saints Linebacker - Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Falcons News

Atlanta Falcons Best Kept Secret?

The Atlanta Falcons have stockpiled several-big name players through the draft and free agency the last several years. Atlanta was the only team to have three players on Pro Football Focus’ (PFF) list of Top 25 Players Under 25-Years Old.

Bijan Robinson, the No. 8 overall pick in the NFL Draft, is already among the hottest names at running back in the NFL.

They’ve added big names on defense in free agency including safety Jessie Bates, six-time Pro Bowler Calais Campbell on the defensive line, and former No. 3 overall pick Jeff Okudah at cornerback.

But it’s linebacker Kaden Elliss that is generating a lot of buzz in the preseason as a player to watch. Last week PFF named him as the Falcons’ breakout player for 2023. This week it’s Bleacher Report (B/R) who calls Ellis the Falcons’ best kept secret.

Elliss was a 2019 seventh-round pick for the Saints and only played 196 defensive snaps in his first three seasons. Once he was given an expanded role in 2022, he blossomed.

Elliss is an off-ball (inside) linebacker who has proven to be an effective blitzer. He had seven sacks and 10 quarterback hits for the Saints last season.

That’s a skill-set the Falcons desperately need. They had one of the league’s worst pass rushes last year. While free agent signee Bud Dupree and second-year player Arnold Ebiketie should help there, Elliss can play a role in bolstering that aspect of the defense too.

Alex Ballentine, B/R

The Falcons are still looking for a big-time edge rusher, but they added pressure up the middle of their defense with the likes of Elliss and his former-Saints teammate David Onyemata at defensive tackle. Elliss’s seven sacks would have led the Falcons last year, and Onyemata’s five would have come in just one behind team leader Grady Jarrett.

Being stronger up the spine of the defense should free Jarrett to use his quickness more often and also free up second-year edge rusher Arnold Ebiketie to blossom his sophomore season.

Elliss was terrific in 11 games for the Saints last year, and the Falcons are anxiously looking forward to what he can do in 17 games in Atlanta.

Scott Kennedy
Scott Kennedy is an Atlanta native and 20 year media veteran including time as Director of Scouting at Scout.com, Managing Editor at 247Sports, VP Content Operations at Sports Illustrated and more. Scott has appeared as a recruiting and NFL Draft analyst on dozens of media including ESPN, NFL Network, USA Today, NY Times, and more.