Falcons 2021 draft profile: Breaking down DL Ta’Quon Graham

Scott Carasik
·3 min read

Ta’Quon Graham is a defensive lineman from Texas and was the first of three Falcons picks in the fifth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Graham is a good fit for the Falcons’ new defense as either a defensive tackle or defensive end, who should effectively provide some depth and size up front.

Athletic Testing and Athletic Comparison

Stats and Awards

2020: 9 Games Played, 23 Tackles, 7.0 Tackles for Loss, 2.0 Sacks, 2 QB Hurries, 1 Fumble Recovered, Academic Second-Team All-Big 12

2019: 13 Games Played, 31 Tackles, 12.0 Tackles for Loss, 3.5 Sacks, 2 QB Hurries, 1 Pass Deflection

2018: 14 Games Played, 12 Tackles, 2.0 Tackles for Loss, 0.5 Sacks, 1 Fumble Forced

2017: 12 Games Played, 6 Tackles, 2.0 Tackles for Loss, 1.0 Sack

Highlights vs. Texas Tech

How does he fit on the field?

To start, Graham is a very good run defender with room to grow as a pass rusher. His high level of athleticism is going to give him a sky-high ceiling in getting after quarterbacks, and could turn into a four-to-six sack guy on the interior on a regular basis.

Against the run, Graham is almost as polished as any current pro. He is able to penetrate the line from the interior or set the edge from a 5-technique and allow his linebackers to make the plays. He’s going to be able to see a lot of time early from his ability to hold up against the run well. Atlanta should have him play a lot of first and second downs early on.

As a pass rusher, he’s an unfinished product. There are questions about his burst off the line, but it’s more that he needs to get better at timing the snap. Once he does learn to better anticipate things, he’s got a ton of upside. He’s got to improve his hands in the pass rush as well, and he will need to do it quick to play expanded time on passing downs.

How does he fit off the field?

Graham was the defensive captain for the Texas Longhorns in 2020. He’s not just a lead-by-example guy, he’s also a vocal leader. He’s got the hard-nosed nature on the field and is highly competitive. The Falcons need guys like him in the locker room on defense as there’s a void after losing so many players during the offseason.

Why Ta’Quon Graham instead of Kenneth Gainwell or Marvin Wilson?

The Falcons will need pocket-collapsing presence for their new scheme, and Graham is a better fit than Marvin Wilson. He comes in already knowing how to play against the run and should get time on the field. The Falcons have de-emphasized the running back position with the signings of Mike Davis and Cordarrelle Patterson, so they are holding off on that spot.

Overview

NFL Stylistic Comparison/Best Case Scenario: Corey Peters

While he may never be the pass rusher that his athletic profile would suggest, Graham compares well as a decent pass rusher and exceptional run defender like Corey Peters was in Atlanta. He fits in well as a long-term 3- and 5-technique for the Falcons, and he should make an impact early on relieving Grady Jarrett or Marlon Davidson on run downs.