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Defense ends and edge rushers saw a boost in production led by Calais Campbell and Bud Dupree — Falcons Breakdown

Defense ends and edge rushers saw a boost in production led by Calais Campbell and Bud Dupree — Falcons Breakdown


Editor’s note: As part of the “Falcons Breakdown” series, which assesses how each position performed in 2023 and what to expect in 2024, the Falcons editorial team, which consists of Scott Bair, Tori McElhaney, Terrin Waack, and Amna Subhan, will examine each position group. The defense is the next item on the agenda.

Flory Branch, Georgia – In 2023, the Falcons changed the dimensions and physical makeup of its edge rushers and defensive ends.

The group grew significantly, even if none of them measured up to 6-foot-8 and 282 pounds rookie Calais Campbell. Bud Dupree, who signed a free agency contract, weighed 269 pounds. Additionally, Zach Harrison, a 6-foot-6, 272-pound player, was picked by the Falcons.

It was an indication that the Falcons were expanding along with new coordinator Ryan Nielsen’s defensive front in addition to interior acquisitions (Tori McElhaney describes that position group here).

That helped with run defense, particularly the pass rush, but it also gave the current edge rushers—who are more athletically suited to Dean Pees’ style—new roles.

As a result, DeAngelo Malone and Arnold Ebiketie, the 2022 Day 2 draft selections, were assigned to strongside linebacker positions as key members of the base defense. Lorenzo Carter, a 2022 free agent signing, was an anomaly who kept his spot up front.

These youthful and experienced players combined for 25 sacks of defensive ends and edge rushers, which allowed them to pressure the quarterback. In contrast, the same position group had just 9.5 sacks in 2022, while having significantly less quality overall.


With their lengthy winning streak and big-game experience, Campbell and Dupree were a huge improvement to this team. In 2023, those two combined for 13 sacks, 18 tackles for a loss, and 25 quarterback hits.

Additionally, they dictated the pace and consistently produced plays in the offensive backfield while playing outstanding run defense. The position group, which had produced disappointing results in previous seasons, showed some encouraging signs, but it will be in flux this offseason with Nielsen, a top-tier defensive line coach and quality DC, going to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Campbell and Dupree having expiring contracts.

Let’s examine the performance of these ends/edge rushers in 2023 and any issues the team may be facing in 2024.

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