Round 1, Pick 16 Overall: A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa
Before Dan Quinn became the head coach with the Atlanta Falcons, he was highly regarded as one of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL during his tenure with the Seattle Seahawks. That defense was known as the “Legion of Boom” with defensive backs Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, and Kam Chancellor leading the way.
Though the defense was led by one of the strongest defensive backs groups of all-time, one of the key impact players for Quinn was defensive lineman Michael Bennett.
Since Dan Quinn has come to Atlanta, he hasn’t had a player with the size and skill-set of Bennett to rush the quarterback on the edge. A.J. Epenesa fits the mold that Bennett had in Dan Quinn’s defense perfectly. In fact, he carries more upside with more natural athleticism to his game.
Epenesa is a plug-and-play defensive end that will showcase his unique blend of power, speed, and pass-rush nuance to find success. He is an incredibly strong player up front and has better movement skills than you think. This is the kind of athlete Quinn has been missing on his defensive line since coming to Atlanta and can have a major impact in revitalizing the Falcons’ pass rush in 2020.