The Atlanta Falcons have a lot of young players that the fan base can be excited to see this season. But Pro Football Focus’ Zoltan Buday likes one of the newer members of the Falcons.
In an article where he named one breakout candidate for all 16 NFC teams, Buday called linebacker Kaden Elliss Atlanta’s top breakout player.
“Last season, Elliss played a significant number of snaps for the first time in his career,” Buday wrote. “He took hold of the Saints’ starting job in the second half of the season, which led to the Falcons signing him this offseason.
“The former seventh-round pick can draw attention if he keeps up his 2022 play for a new team over a whole season, as he finished last year with an 81.5 PFF grade, seventh among all linebackers in the NFL.”
One could argue Elliss already experienced a break out season in 2022. After just 1 sack and 23 combined tackles from 2019-22, Elliss recorded 7 tackles for loss last season. He also had 7 sacks.
That performance led to the Falcons signing Elliss to a three-year, $21.5 million contract.
But if Elliss could “breakout” even further in 2023, he would be a tremendous help to the Falcons defense.
Atlanta hasn’t had one of its defenders post even 7 sacks since 2019. Since Arthur Smith became head coach in 2021, the Falcons have 23 fewer sacks than every other team in the NFL.
That could change, though, if Elliss breaks out as Buday projects.
Elliss is one of several defenders the Falcons hope improve the pass rush this season. In free agency, general manager Terry Fontenot also added defensive end Calais Campbell and linebacker Bud Dupree. The Falcons also signed defensive tackle David Onyemata.
Both Elliss and Onyemata were not only additions for the Falcons, they were subtractions for arch rival New Orleans Saints.