Coming in as the 7th-ranked player is Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux. Click here to read about how the scoring system for these rankings was devised.
Total Score: 82
Player Grade: 72 out of 100
Teams he could start for: 31 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 23 out of 32
Teams he could find role on: 32 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +0
Positional Bonus: +3
Babineaux finishes just a notch above Osi Umenyiora mainly because there is far less clutter at the top of the defensive tackle position around the league. So much so that there is only one team in the league, the Buffalo Bills, that has a pair of tackles that would force Babineaux to come off the bench.
Babineaux is not the player that he was a few years back. His 2009 season was one of the better seasons a Falcons defensive lineman has had in recent memory. But Babineaux is still a very good player, that shines at being disruptive. He was moved around a lot more last year in Mike Nolan’s defense, playing a lot of reps at defensive end. And unlike John Abraham, Babineaux adapted fairly well to his role. While the monster games from Babs are coming fewer and farther between, he still gives a relatively steady level of production each week.
Most of his production last year came during the middle portion of the year, an 8-game stint between Weeks 5 and 14 where Nolan started to use Babs more as an end in 3-man fronts. During that stint, he recorded 11 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, 5.5 pressures, and 3 quarterback hits. It should be noted that Babineaux finished with 14/3/7.5/4 in those categories, indicating he was very quiet in the other eight games he played last year.
The hope for the Falcons is that with a second year in Nolan’s system, the Falcons can get that higher level of production out of him for all sixteen games, or as many as possible. The Falcons will likely employ a steady mix of Babineaux playing end when they utilize a 3-man front, and kicking inside in 4-man fronts. Babineaux is entering the final year of his contract, and potentially his final year in Atlanta because of it. He’ll turn 32 in October and it’s going to be difficult for the Falcons to justify a long-term contract for him, comparable to how they dealt with Abraham following 2011. But if Babineaux can put up the sort of high-level of production he’s capable of doing this year, it will certainly make the Falcons think twice about letting him walk next season.