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Falcons already have some options at OLB


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Falcons already have some options at OLB

March 22, 2009 12:34 PM

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

There's a pretty wide assumption out there that the Atlanta Falcons will use an early draft pick on a linebacker in April.

It could happen, but I'm not so sure it's the given thing many fans expect. After letting outside linebackers Keith Brooking and Michael Boley walk through free agency, the only sure thing is the Falcons have Curtis Lofton as their starting middle linebacker.

But the roster is not as depleted as you might think. As Daniel Cox points out, the Falcons are HIGH on Linebacker Stephen Nicholas, who will be entering his third season. Nicholas has been mostly a backup linebacker and special teams player in his first two seasons, but I keep hearing word out of Atlanta that the Falcons think he can at least be in the mix for a starting job next season.

Again, there could be more coming in the draft, but the Falcons already have some decent options. Nicholas has some good speed and young legs. The Falcons also signed veteran Mike Peterson, who has a history with coach Mike Smith, and Coy Wire replaced Boley as the starter on the strong side late last season.

Peterson's history was mostly as a middle linebacker, but the Falcons are planning to play him on the outside. Even if the Falcons don't add a linebacker in the early rounds, they've already set up some decent competition with Nicholas, Wire and Peterson competing for two starting jobs.

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Our linebackers are weak, but not as weak as many think. Still, we might be in trouble if Peterson is a Hartwell-like bust. I'm not comfortable with a Nicholas-Lofton-Wire combination. While we may not go LB first round, it may happen in the second. Lofton was great as a rookie last year, who says we can't find a guy like that again?

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are you serious Nicholas is a head hunter he is not small by any means

And I'm ok With Nicholas Lofton and Peterson

BVG should be able to blitz more with Nicholas in there and so shuold Lofton since we have a great veteran in Peterson that allows us to do that.

I also believe we are looking for a young Peterson at OLB in the draft. In his prime the man was sick, a big time player. NIcholas will show he plays the style of Peterson.

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I think our OLB group is OK for speed, but lacks toughness. If we don't get stronger in the middle of the line, smaller guys like James and Nicholas are gonna get worn down
We don't lack toughness. Mike Peterson was specifically brought in for his toughness, intensity, leadership, and to fill a void at OLB. Read the article(the one atljbo posted in an earlier topic) about Stephen Nicholas. Everything good is said about him and he plays with a "mean streak". Curtis Lofton, if you haven't already noticed, had a great rookie season and he can lay the wood. Once again, he was also brought in to add toughness to this LB core. He is also a great leader.
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Our LB core is straight right now, I think that we will have our starters based on our LBs on the roster right now. With the signing of Peterson we have given ourselves the opportunity to draft a LB in the later rounds, especially since this years draft is deep with talented LBs. We should now focus on the D-line.

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I agree... toughness definitely isn't the problem. Wire did play well at the end of last season in place of Boley. However we have yet to see what he could do through a 16 game season. And Nicholas did play in our Nickel set but thats about it and he was mainly blitzing the quarterback. We haven't seen a whole lot of him reacting to coverages and against the run. They both still have some things to prove before anyone will jump right on the bandwagon.

With that said Peterson may be a veteran but he is a solid leader and great tackler. He is faster than brooking and had around 140 tackles last year. I don't think anyone has any questions about him he definitely improves our defense no matter how you look at it.

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We don't lack toughness. Mike Peterson was specifically brought in for his toughness, intensity, leadership, and to fill a void at OLB. Read the article(the one atljbo posted in an earlier topic) about Stephen Nicholas. Everything good is said about him and he plays with a "mean streak". Curtis Lofton, if you haven't already noticed, had a great rookie season and he can lay the wood. Once again, he was also brought in to add toughness to this LB core. He is also a great leader.

I don't mean toughness in terms of delivering impact, but toughness in terms of battling larger players at the point of attack and staying healthy. I wasn't talking about ILB Lofton, but OLB's James and Nicholas and if we don't toughen up the interior of the line our LB's will see a lot of blockers

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I don't mean toughness in terms of delivering impact, but toughness in terms of battling larger players at the point of attack and staying healthy. I wasn't talking about ILB Lofton, but OLB's James and Nicholas and if we don't toughen up the interior of the line our LB's will see a lot of blockers

[/quote

Stephen Nicholas is 6'3" and 230+, so if he gets much bigger he won't be

able to cover. This is not Demorrio Williams. James is safety size and should

get his track shoes on this off season and come in and win himself a job.

I don't see him as an NFL linebacker.

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I hope we draft Jasper Brinkley and Dannel Ellerbe, then our LB depth chart would be aggressive, strong and athletic:

WILL ___________________MIKE________________ SAM

S. Nicholas* _________________C. Lofton_________________M. Peterson

D. Ellerbe *___________________J. Brinkley *_______________C. Wire *

R. James *___________________Peterson/Ellerbe__________J. Brinkley

* = Special Teams contributor.

I think this is a unit of value oriented players, as they all would have cost little collateral to bring in (in terms of draft picks/ contracts), thus allowing the FO the flexibility of pursuing another OLB next off-season w/o log jamming high draft picks at the same position. I believe this would be a smart move, as the value TD could likely acquire at #24 this year is not real solid. Matthews is a good pick, if he's there, but not the proven game changer you might like to bring in at LBer with a first round pick. Remember the last two guys that played LBer the Falcons drafted in the first round: KB and Aundray Bruce...both impact playmakers in their haydays.

I'm not convinced on Cushing with the durability concerns, Stintim is a big stretch in the late 1st for us, Malaluga isn't a scheme/need fit (and probably won't be there for us), McKenzie, McKillop, Freeman, Lauranitis and McGrath are all 2nd-4th round prospects, not late first rounders. So why not take a couple of mid round value picks on guys with great potential and put the pressure on some of the names already on the roster to step up and perform if the team is going to be successful.

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I agree... toughness definitely isn't the problem. Wire did play well at the end of last season in place of Boley. However we have yet to see what he could do through a 16 game season. And Nicholas did play in our Nickel set but thats about it and he was mainly blitzing the quarterback. We haven't seen a whole lot of him reacting to coverages and against the run. They both still have some things to prove before anyone will jump right on the bandwagon.

With that said Peterson may be a veteran but he is a solid leader and great tackler. He is faster than brooking and had around 140 tackles last year. I don't think anyone has any questions about him he definitely improves our defense no matter how you look at it.

your sig. is awesome, man.

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I think our lb core right now is pretty solid, but I think we could easily add a play maker at olb, this draft has some really nice olb prospects and hopefully we can grab one in the 1st round.

Who do you think will be available at 24 that could come in and start at OLB this year. I personally dont think that any LB at 24 will be a play maker for us this year. We dont need a LB in the first, we have positioned ourselves to draft a LB or two in the later rounds to develop behind our current players.

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Who do you think will be available at 24 that could come in and start at OLB this year. I personally dont think that any LB at 24 will be a play maker for us this year. We dont need a LB in the first, we have positioned ourselves to draft a LB or two in the later rounds to develop behind our current players.

I think there is a good chance Matthews could be there at 24, and a slight, slight chance that Cushing could although I put this at around .01%. If either of those guys are available at 24 I say we take them and I think both have the ability to jump in and play right away. If neither of those guys are there, hopefully Pettigrew will be and we can pick him up, possibly one of the DE prospects as I think we can grab a solid safety later on in the draft as well as a solid DT that could possibly push for some early playing time.

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