Scouting Report: Jonathan Babineaux
Pros:Has a quick step upfield to beat interior linemen with his quickness. Has good strength for his size and shows a capable bull rush to use a power move. Does his best work when he’s allowed to get upfield, penetrate and make plays in the backfield. A good run defender because of this. Can get off blocks and make the hit on the ballcarrier. Rarely gets caught out of position. Plays with a high motor and consistently plays to the whistle. Shows good athleticism to occasionally drop into coverage to make a play. Shows very good durability.
Cons: Not a dynamic pass rusher that will consistently generate a lot of sacks. His production notably drops off when he goes up against top guards. Can get pushed off the ball at times and doesn’t always match up well with bigger, more powerful guards.
2011 Outlook: Babineaux is arguably the best and most consistent defender on the Falcons defense that impacts both as a run defender and pass rusher. He is one of the best 4-3 defensive tackles in the league, and hopes to showcase that as more and more people around the league begin to realize this.
Babineaux had a monster 2009 season, and his production fell off some last year, although that can be expected when one considers how outstanding a year he had the year before. Babineaux goes under the radar somewhat because he does not put up great sack numbers, but he is a player that consistently lives in the backfield of opposing teams. He sets the tone for the defense, with his penetrating abilities on early downs that can help give the team favorable situations on passing downs, allowing it’s more accomplished pass rushers like John Abraham and Ray Edwards to do their thing.
Babineaux is a great fit in the Falcons scheme because of his ability to penetrate and get upfield to make plays in the backfield. It fits well with the attacking style that the Falcons feature up front. It makes the players around him better, as it allows players like Curtis Lofton behind him to be more effective, because he can come downhill and make plays against the run. Babineaux is essentially the lynchpin for the Falcons defense and without him, its effectiveness is dramatically decreased, probably more so than any other player on that side of the ball.
In Summary… Babineaux’s star is rising as he is one of the best defensive players that most people paid to know football are aware of but is not a household name that immediately comes to mind when most fans think of the top defensive tackles in the league. If he can have a season comparable to where he played at in 2009, he should earn his first long overdue Pro Bowl bid.