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College Coach take on De'Vondre Campbell


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http://espn.go.com/blog/atlanta-falcons/post/_/id/20460/college-coach-falcons-devondre-campbell-will-grow-into-role

 

Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank said he'd be disappointed if the team didn't find three starters within the first four draft picks.

How about four out of the first four?

First-round draft pick Keanu Neal is expected to start at strong safety, while the Falcons wouldn't have invested a second-round pick in Deion Jones if they didn't feel he had a potential to start at inside linebacker -- possibly in the middle. Third-round pick Austin Hooper could emerge as the best tight end threat on the team, eventually.

The wild card is fourth-round selection De'Vondre Campbell, the linebacker from Minnesota. The 6-foot-4-inch, 232-pound Campbell has the athleticism, game speed, and length to become a starting-caliber Will linebacker. But he does have the instincts?

Golden Gophers linebackers coach Mike Sherels, who played linebacker at Minnesota himself, provided an answer.

"My response to that is that there are two types of linebackers out there: there's raw, instinctive kids, and then there's the kids you have to really get in there and make sure you're really doing a good job with X, Y and Z in telling them exactly what you expect from them. De'Vondre is that second type of linebacker," Sherels said. "He's not somebody that does have great instincts. He doesn't have bad instincts. He's got average football instincts.

"But what he lacks in instincts he makes up for in want-to in making sure that he knows exactly where he needs to be and the position that he needs to be in in order to get his job done."

Campbell could be the ultimate boom or bust player for the Falcons. The team didn't bring back starting weak-side linebacker Justin Durant, which created a void at the position. Veteran Sean Weatherspoon re-signed with the team with hopes of rejuvenating his career, but he knew a starting role wouldn't be guaranteed. Same goes for Philip Wheeler. So, Campbell has a legit chance to compete for significant playing time.

But he has to develop.

"I think the thing that makes him so special is that he still has got so much untapped potential," Sherels said. "He's got potential as a pass-rusher. He just keeps getting better the more that he plays. Obviously he's got the physical tools. He's got the measurables that everyone was looking for. He's hungry and he works very hard. And he's always looking for ways to improve himself, which is good."

There's one area Sherels has no doubt Campbell will thrive in immediately: coverage. Falcons coach Dan Quinn talked about having Campbell covering tight ends, which was a major issue for the Falcons last season. (Neal will be asked to cover the tight ends in certain situations where a pass is not exactly evident.)

"De'Vondre was by far our best cover linebacker," Sherels said, "to the point that when we were in our nickel package, regardless of where he was by alignment, we would move him essentially to play man defense on anyone we felt was a threat. Whether it was (tight end) Jake Butt from Michigan or (tight end) Cethan Carter from Nebraska, it was, 'OK, if there's a tight end out there who was a threat, we're going to put De'Vondre on him regardless of who is out there with him in the nickel package.'

"The same thing goes for backs. If there was a back who was a threat out of the backfield, we'd put De'Vondre on him and essentially not worry about that player. Obviously his length is a strength. He's excellent in man coverage with his length and his speed. But he has really good space awareness when it comes to covering and has really good reaction. Coverage, by far, is his biggest strength."

Sherels said Campbell played all three linebacker spots. In nickel, he played the middle and outside. In the base 4-3, he played outside. Then he was a rush backer/defensive end.

"He did better on the outside," Sherels said of Campbell at linebacker. "The rush stuff is where his biggest room for growth will be. He's a decent blitzer. His biggest detriment is explosion off the ball. But that's not necessarily his thing. We didn't ask him to do it very much."

We'll see how much the Falcons ask Campbell to do as a rookie.

 

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Sounds like a great unbiased review from someone who should, and apparently does, know him well...

Also sounds like the "kid" knows what his own weakness' are (instincts) and works hard at compensating for them (film room knowledge of his assignments, or the X,Y,Z's)... that takes intelligence and humbleness...

I like everything I"m hearing thus far! Good read...

Edited by Leggggggo
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Wow a LB that excels at coverage and is trusted enough by his coaches to just allow him to cover any threat? We've never really had that here.

Sounds like a good way to get him in the lineup have him cover dangerous TE's and RB's in the passing game.

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The more I read the clearer the picture Dan Quinn is painting. RBs and TEs killed us last year. Tighter coverage on those two gives our D line time to get to the QB. Our sacks will come up. We just need time to get the pieces in place. It wasnt all on the Dline. 

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1 hour ago, Leggggggo said:

Sounds like a great unbiased review from someone who should, and apparently does, know him well...

Also sounds like the "kid" knows what his own weakness' are (instincts) and works hard at compensating for them (film room knowledge of his assignments, or the X,Y,Z's)... that takes intelligence and humbleness...

I like everything I"m hearing thus far! Good read...

he is also a grade A student. All-academic team I think.  So while he isnt a natural baller, he has the tools to become one with the right support. DQ is the best fit for the kid. Outstanding eye by Falcons staff

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12 hours ago, Truth B Told (TRU) said:

"I think the thing that makes him so special is that he still has got so much untapped potential," Sherels said. "He's got potential as a pass-rusher. He just keeps getting better the more that he plays. Obviously he's got the physical tools. He's got the measurables that everyone was looking for. He's hungry and he works very hard. And he's always looking for ways to improve himself, which is good."

 

 

Now that he's going from Student athlete, where he had to balance school and football, to Professional athlete, he could focus strictly on football. I can't wait for that potential to get untapped.

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