I don't think the Falcons have a real nose tackle on their team. I think if they had to make due, they could put Walker there and rotate him with Peters. I don't know how much of it is still lingering issues with the foot, but Peters just isn't that disruptive a player. I don't think he's ever been.
Man, we missed an opportunity by passing on Geno Atkins, who has morphed into arguably the league's best interior pass rusher.
Peters I think needs to bulk up to be a nose tackle. He has a very thick lower half, which you like to see in those run pluggers, because it means they can anchor. Peters just doesn't have great hands or quickness off the ball. He's listed at 6-3/305 and is probably about that, with about 285 of that being in his butt and thighs. To make an effective rotational NT he probably would need to add at least another 10-15 pounds of muscle.
I just don't think he'll ever be the reliably disruptive player that we need to take over for Babineaux. If the Falcons are looking for someone that can be a consistent and effective interior pass rusher that isn't 30+ years old, they don't have it on this roster.
Looking at last year, Peters had 6 PPRs (POsitive Pass Rushes = Sacks + Pressures + Hits) in the first 8 games. Then he only had 4 in the final 8. Babineaux had 8 in the last 8 games last year.
Fast forward to this year, Babineaux has 9.5 PPRs in the last 8 games. Peters has 0 in 7 games.
While it's not going to be talked about as a high need, if a good DT is available in the draft, particularly one that could be molded into a dominant 3-4 DE, then the Falcons should jump all over him.
People often think that NT is the critical position in a 3-4 defense. No, it's DE. If you can have a dominant presence at one of those DE spots, you have a much higher correlation to great 3-4 defenses than you do if you have a good NT.
Look at the Pats defense over the years. When did they stop being good? Oh, right about the time they got rid of Richard Seymour. Aaron Smith was the catalyst in Pittsburgh, when he was healthy, they were an elite defense. When he was not, they were less than that. We've seen Justin Smith and J.J. Watt in SF and Houston, respectively. Go back to Wade's defenses in Buffalo with Bruce Smith. Baltimore with Haloti Ngata, who people often think of as a NT, but he actually plays the DE spot in their system. Even lesser 3-4 defenses like the Cardinals, with Campbell and Dockett are the catalysts, not Dan Williams.
The beautiful thing is that Babineaux has taken much more to playing DE than I think most (well at least myself) could imagine. We need to find his successor.
The bottom line is the Falcons either this off-season or the next one (Babs is signed through 2013 I believe), the Falcons need to find the guy that in the middle is going to be that force. IMHO, he is not currently on the roster. Between Peters, Walker, Robertson, and Jerry the Falcons have rotational guys. Nobody that on their own can potentially take over a game. Babineaux has done that multiple times over the years.
It's the exact same situation with DE and Abe. Abe is the only guy that can "slant" a game. Everybody else are complementary players. But that's the story of our entire defense, but it's especially apparent up front, which is why we've struggled there over the entirety of Mike Smith's tenure.
"Vincere scis, Hannibal, victoria uti nescis" -- Maharbal, 216 B.C.E.