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Top LB prospects for Falcons


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With the potential loss of Keke to FA, I thought I would pull this article from Tabeek from a few days ago.  I still am in love with the kid from ND...  

Just sayin... AOK can help our team in a lot of ways.

https://www.atlantafalcons.com/news/2021-nfl-draft-top-lb-prospects-who-fit-falcons

2021 NFL Draft: Top LB prospects who fit Falcons

A look at the top draft prospects at every position group who might fit with the Falcons

Mar 05, 2021 at 05:35 PM
 

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Bolton

AP Photo/L.G. Patterson

Editor's note: This is the fifth installment of a 10-part series on top prospects who fit the Falcons based on positions of need.

The Atlanta Falcons have a new regime in place, beginning at the top with general manager Terry Fontenot and head coach Arthur Smith. Not only have they been busy putting together their respective staffs, but they're also been evaluating every single player on this roster.

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The Falcons finished last season with a 4-12 mark, in last place of the NFC South and, as a result, hold the No. 4 overall pick in the NFL Draft. They've missed the postseason for three straight years. In short, there's some definite areas on this roster that will need to be addressed in the offseason.

The Falcons' four biggest needs heading into free agency and the NFL Draft right now appear to be at edge defender, secondary (cornerback and safety), running back and offensive line. Over the next several weeks we will look at the top draft prospects at every position group and how they might fit with the Falcons.

 

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AP Photo/Barry Reeger

Micah Parsons, Penn State

  • 2019 stats: 109 total tackles, 5.0 sacks, 5 PD, 4 FF
  • Draft position in Matt Tabeek's latest mock draft: 10

Summary of big board rankings:

  • The Draft Scout: 8
  • Pro Football Focus: 6
  • Dane Brugler's top 100: 13
  • Daniel Jeremiah's top 50: 10

Brugler's analysis: "Parsons is an excellent ball hunter due to his vision and agility near the line of scrimmage, also displaying exceptional sideline range. He needs to improve his maturity (on and off the field), spacing and anticipation in coverage, but the athleticism and budding awareness are there."

Jeremiah's analysis: "Parsons has a big, athletic frame and possesses excellent speed and versatility. He is quick to key/read before attacking the line of scrimmage. He can defeat blocks with his hands or use his quickness to slip past them. He has the speed to make plays sideline to sideline, although there were a few occasions where he overran the football in the games I studied. He also had some issues sniffing out the ball on zone reads. He's very gifted in coverage versus tight ends and running backs. He has timing and burst as a blitzer off the edge. Overall, there aren't many holes in Parsons' game. It's difficult to find linebackers with his size and ability to impact the passing game."

Pro Football Focus: "The Penn State linebacker earned the second-highest run-defense grade we've ever given to a true sophomore. What the 240-plus-pounder can do as a blitzer is going to be a weapon in the NFL."

 
 

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AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Notre Dame

  • 2020 stats: 62 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3 PD, 3 FF
  • Draft position in Matt Tabeek's latest mock draft: 26

Summary of big board rankings:

  • The Draft Scout: 15
  • Pro Football Focus: 19
  • Dane Brugler's top 100: 14
  • Daniel Jeremiah's top 50: 17

Brugler's analysis: "With his explosive athleticism, Owusu-Koramoah will be a hot commodity this spring. He has terrific key, read and flow skills, showing the range and physicality to cover the slot receiver one play and rush off the edge the next play. His "fit" will be different from team-to-team."

Jeremiah's analysis: "Owusu-Koramoah starred as an athletic hybrid defender for the Fighting Irish. He can play Will linebacker, safety or even cover in the slot. He's very fluid and twitchy to mirror tight ends, backs or slot receivers. He's very aware as a zone dropper and he's an explosive blitzer off the edge. He is quick to key/read before dipping under blocks on the front side against the run. He flashes the ability to use his length to punch off blockers, but he is much more effective beating them to spots. He has big-time speed to chase from the back side. He needs to improve his consistency as a tackler in space, though, as he has too many fly-by misses. He brings outstanding leadership to the defense. Overall, Owusu-Koramoah might lack ideal size/bulk, but he's built for a pass-happy NFL."

Pro Football Focus: "The Butkus Award winner for the nation's best linebacker. JOK has elite short-area quicks for a linebacker, and while 215 pounds may seem tiny, it's the same weight that Darius Leonard played at this season for the Colts."

 

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AP Photo/L.G. Patterson

Nick Bolton, Missouri

  • 2020 stats: 95 total tackles, 2.0 sacks, 5 PD
  • Draft position in Matt Tabeek's latest mock draft: Day 2

Summary of big board rankings:

  • The Draft Scout: 35
  • Pro Football Focus: 22
  • Dane Brugler's top 100: 22
  • Daniel Jeremiah's top 50: 29

Brugler's analysis: "A hammer in search of a nail, Bolton is a forceful downhill defender with outstanding play speed and striking skills to put ball carriers on the ground before they can reach the line of scrimmage. His lack of size and length will show up, especially in coverage, but his fiery play personality is something that will endear him to NFL coaches."

 

Jeremiah's analysis: "Bolton is a slightly undersized linebacker with excellent speed and explosiveness. He has the lateral quicks to avoid blocks, fill and chest up running backs. He has stopping power as a tackler. He improved his take-on skills as the 2020 season progressed. He has big-time lateral range because of his burst/speed. He needs to improve as a zone dropper in coverage, though. He is late to anticipate and fill throwing windows. He's much more instinctive in the run game. However, he does have the athleticism to match up and mirror tight ends. He is a dynamic blitzer. Overall, I love Bolton's speed and energy, but he does need to improve in zone coverage. If he polishes that aspect of his game, he could emerge as a top-tier starter at the next level."

Pro Football Focus: "Bolton won't tick every box physically, but this is a guy you want in the middle of your defense. He led the SEC in defensive stops in each of the past two seasons."

 

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AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio

Zaven Collins, Tulsa

  • 2020 stats: 54 total tackles, 4.0 sacks, 4 INT, 2 PD, 2 FF
  • Draft position in Matt Tabeek's latest mock draft: 29

Summary of big board rankings:

  • The Draft Scout: 31
  • Pro Football Focus: 31
  • Dane Brugler's top 100: 23
  • Daniel Jeremiah's top 50: 24

Brugler's analysis: "With the size of a defensive end and the athleticism of a safety, Collins offers every-down ability, ideally suited for a 3-4 scheme. He needs to be better with his take-on skills and run fits, but he flashes like a Dont'a Hightower starter kit."

Pro Football Focus: "At 6-foot-4, 260 pounds, Collins isn't your typical off-ball linebacker prospect. He dominates backs in blitz pickup and can chase them down in space, as well. His 91.1 overall grade this past season led all linebackers in college football."

 

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AP Photo/Michael Woods

Jabril Cox, LSU

  • 2020 stats: 58 total tackles, 1.0 sack, 3 INT, 5 PD
  • Draft position in Matt Tabeek's latest mock draft: Day 2

Summary of big board rankings:

  • The Draft Scout: 36
  • Pro Football Focus: 45
  • Dane Brugler's top 100: 80
  • Daniel Jeremiah's top 50: 43
 

Jeremiah's analysis: "Cox is a versatile second-level defender with outstanding range, coverage ability and character. He is at his best when lined up outside the box. He can mirror tight ends in coverage and can chase plays down from the back side. He is a little bit late to key/diagnose through the collection of bodies when he's lined up inside. When his sightlines are clear, he plays fast and physical. He is a very good change-of-direction athlete and has some upside as a rusher off the edge. Everyone at LSU raves about his leadership and character. Overall, Cox grew on me the more I studied him. He can serve as a box safety, outside linebacker or in a multitude of roles via sub packages."

Pro Football Focus: "Across two different schools/schemes and one week of practice at the Senior Bowl, Cox has proven one thing wholesale: the man can cover. He was the only linebacker to break up multiple passes in the one-on-ones at the Senior Bowl, and he had four throughout the week."

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50 minutes ago, Mister pudding said:

I think we have bigger fish to fry in the early rounds than LB. Unless a steal falls to us

If they're going to a 3-4 they need LB's and a couple of big ones. 240-260 range. I'd play Koromoah at SS if they got him. Some guys in the "Edge" category are rated as possible 3-4 OLB's. Joe Tryon of Washington and Malcom Koonce of Buffalo would be nice targets for OLB.

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5 minutes ago, slider said:

If they're going to a 3-4 they need LB's and a couple of big ones. 240-260 range. I'd play Koromoah at SS if they got him. Some guys in the "Edge" category are rated as possible 3-4 OLB's. Joe Tryon of Washington and Malcom Koonce of Buffalo would be nice targets for OLB.

I mean, we have Fowler already. I'd like to re-sign Harris and we have Walker, who I actually was impressed with. 

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30 minutes ago, Mister pudding said:

I mean, we have Fowler already. I'd like to re-sign Harris and we have Walker, who I actually was impressed with. 

I see what you're saying somewhat but Fowler is here for one more year at most and I can't see Harris as having coverage skills, I think he's more of a sub-package rush end.  Walker, maybe, little light to hold the edge against the run on the outside but he'd probably be OK in coverage. I don't see an every down OLB there. Also, in a 3-4 if there's not a space eating 2 gapper at nose drawing doubles, Jones and Foye won't be looking like themselves in the run game. I see a Tyler Shelvin type DT as a necessity. Jones and Foye in the double "A'" gap blitz against the pass will be a pleasure to see however. I think Marlon Davidson should be great as a 4/5 tech DE. Interesting to see how Grady is used.

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Drafting another LB does make sense if we're moving to a 3-4, since drafting someone like Parsons or Collins, you're essentially drafting a starting pass rusher.

Drafting another impact LB may also be important to the new regime because odds are we may not be able to afford to re-sign Oluokun after his rookie deal expires at the end of this season 😑.

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45 minutes ago, blizzard_falcon said:

Drafting another LB does make sense if we're moving to a 3-4, since drafting someone like Parsons or Collins, you're essentially drafting a starting pass rusher.

Drafting another impact LB may also be important to the new regime because odds are we may not be able to afford to re-sign Oluokun after his rookie deal expires at the end of this season 😑.

Great points.  I would love Collins in the second.

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4 hours ago, Bunchy Carter said:

How are these topics related? Was Neal slated to play LB or are you saying this guy could play safety?

Yes.  He’s a hybrid Safety/LBer to use anywhere on the field.  It would fill a void from Keke while adding even more multiplicity to our D.  

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12 hours ago, Summerhill said:

I'm a believer you 

  1. Draft Parsons high if you think he's the next Devin White. I don't see it but apparently everyone else does.
  2. Draft Collins if he falls to round 2 or if you trade down from #4 a bunch.
  3. Don't worry about any other LBs until you get to the 5th round. 

Hes worse than the devins were coming out in coverage. However he is a better tackler than White was coming out, and a slightly better Blitzer. Also has value dropping on the line and rushing from there. His play diagnosis is on par with Whites coming out.

The big issue for many is the character concerns. Only thing is he is a MLB in this league and we already have a stud there

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Let's face it. DQ had this defense way too small for a 3-4 set up. They're saying they're going multiple because they have to create something that works out of what they have but it might take another couple of years to get that defense back where it should be. That's the price paid for running a defense that has safeties playing LB and DE's that are 30lb's light. It's like trying to rebuild a power offense after Mike Martz has just left the team. That might be an obscure reference for you young uns!

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