There is no question as to what the biggest hole in the Atlanta Falcons defense is. It's the pass rush, and the best pass rusher is former Texans defensive end Mario Williams. There are many news analysts out there speculating about how Mario Williams could end up in Atlanta. Steve Wyche of NFL.com notes:
"There are plenty of teams that could use Mario Williams, but the two places I've recently heard that could be in play are Seattle and Atlanta. The Seahawks' emerging defense could thrive with a versatile "elephant" linebacker/defensive end like Williams who can really get after the quarterback. The Falcons are letting aging pass-rush specialist John Abraham hit the free agent market and they desperately need a pass rusher in a division loaded with talented QBs."
Wyche notes that by allowing Mario Williams to come in and Abraham to walk the Falcons would be making a move that signifies a fear of other NFC South QBs. There is some theory to this as Mario Williams could play not just defensive end, but also defensive tackle in certain situations. Bucky Brooks of NFL.com thinks that this move could put the Falcons over the top in the division again, and that they are the best fit for Mario:
"The Atlanta Falcons are the best fit for Williams. They desperately need a pass rusher of his skill, and GM Thomas Dimitroff has made it known they need to become more explosive along the defensive front. Williams will command an enormous salary, but his ability to create disruption off the edge could push the Falcons over the top in the NFC South."
This is something that is hard to disagree with, as Mario Williams can be a long term disruptor for the Falcons and will allow a lot of scheme versatility, especially in the nickel and dime packages. Mario Williams is an excellent pass rusher and will easily be a great fit for the Falcons.
One of the most common misconceptions about a Mario Williams contract is that the Falcons don't have the money to get him and keep Curtis Lofton. Even if Mario Williams gets a signing bonus of over $30 million, the Falcons could still keep his cap hit around $7-8 million the first two years.
Considering Atlanta has just under $19 million in cap space right now, the Falcons could not just make a move for Mario, but they could get him and still keep middle linebacker Curtis Lofton.
Mario Williams is a great fit in the football sense though. At 6'6" 285 pounds, he is a huge defensive end with a lot of speed off the edge and strength to throw guys around. The Falcons also have a good speed rusher in Lawrence Sidbury and a pair of good bull rushers in Ray Edwards and Kroy Biermann.
Williams could slide to defensive tackle in some three lineman sets for the Falcons and they could even run some four defensive end sets like the Giants did— with Biermann and Williams inside and Sidbury and Edwards on the edge.
This move would allow the Falcons to create a great pass rush and add a leader to the locker room as well.