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Troy Andersen could have similar first-year struggles as Richie Grant


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Originally posted on SportsTalkATL  |  By Alex Lord  |  Last updated 7/18/22

The Falcons selected Troy Andersen with the No. 58 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, and he will have a shot at starting at linebacker. Standing 6’3” and weighing 242 pounds, the Montana State product ran an unbelievable 4.41 40-yard dash at the combine. He’s an elite athlete who had an impact as a quarterback and running back as well as at linebacker in college.

However, I don’t see Andersen being able to start from Day 1. Mykal Walker is more experienced in Dean Pees’ defense against NFL offenses. Nick Kwiatkoski is even more experienced than Walker and has had Pro Bowl-caliber performances before. Rashaan Evans will undoubtedly be one of the starting linebackers, and Deion Jones‘ future has never been less clear. I’m not the only skeptical one about Andersen starting.

 

“Standout & fastest LB at Combine has cover ability to play right away on sub-downs,” Executive Director Senior Bowl Jim Nagy said. “[I] expect him to be starter Year 2. Best football way ahead of him.”

Richie Grant, a fellow second-rounder, didn’t play much his rookie season, so don’t be surprised if the Falcons use Andersen sparingly.

I was very high on Grant coming out of UCF and was overjoyed when Atlanta selected him in the second round. However, his intangibles hadn’t quite caught up with his physical skill set. Grant not only rarely made an impact on the defensive side of the ball, but he hardly made it on the field, period.

Overall, Grant was on the field for only 23.5% of defensive snaps last season, including four games where he accumulated zero snaps on defense. He only surpassed 50% of defensive snaps in three games while playing in over three-quarters of all special teams snaps. A core special teamer isn’t what an organization is hoping for with a second-round pick.

 

Inside linebackers coach Frank Bush confirmed all of these concerns, noting Andersen is going through a learning phase.

“He’s trying to figure this thing out. We like him as a linebacker and that’s what he was as he finished up at Montana State, (but) he does not know our language,” Bush said. “We have to school him up on how we do things. The faster he learns that, the faster he’ll be himself on the field. He’s trending up. He’s doing the right things.”

“I can only say good things about him. He’s humble. He’s there to learn every day and never takes anything for granted. He’s starting to show his skill set the more he learns.”

Troy Andersen will likely have similar first-year struggles as Richie Grant. However, this shouldn’t surprise many people; the Falcons’ defense is notoriously difficult to learn.

“I kind of know [that] the guys that are back kind of know what to expect,” defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. “You know what we’re really looking for. Last year, I’d say we put in, at the end of the year, maybe 60 percent of the defense that we really want to run. This year, it’s going to be 100 percent

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I don’t think it’s the same transition for each spot or player. Grant was asked to play out of position after Oliver went down.  
 

Andersen has exceptionally high football IQ and if he plays it will be at the same position he practices in since beginning of camp. He’ll also be lined up closely to other LBs on either side of him to help communicate presnap.

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33 minutes ago, gazoo said:

I don’t think it’s the same transition for each spot or player. Grant was asked to play out of position after Oliver went down.  
 

Andersen has exceptionally high football IQ and if he plays it will be at the same position he practices in since beginning of camp. He’ll also be lined up closely to other LBs on either side of him to help communicate presnap.

Apparently there is no where on the field that is "out of position" for Andersen! 😄

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What?! A rookie that may have struggles in his first year? What nonsense is this?

Does the fact that he played multiple positions in college help or hurt him? He can at least focus on one position now. And if for some reason lb isn't his thing in the NFL, lucky for him he has a head coach that isn't afraid to try guys at other positions.

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I understand the whole “he’s a rookie he might take years to develop “ but didn’t we all agree we needed to target more instant contributors in the draft? Especially as a team that has been horrendous drafting in the second round. We need some sure things and guys that are ready to actually play a part for this team. Having a 2nd round player that just rides the bench (like Grant did) just isn’t a good look. 

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Has three guys ahead of him this year. If I’m guessing they are looking for a long term replacement for foye. Basically Bench him a year , focus on him learning the playbook and on the field calls bring him on during garbage time so he gets the feel, then you have a defensive play caller for at least next three years

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2 hours ago, Captain Falcon said:

I understand the whole “he’s a rookie he might take years to develop “ but didn’t we all agree we needed to target more instant contributors in the draft? Especially as a team that has been horrendous drafting in the second round. We need some sure things and guys that are ready to actually play a part for this team. Having a 2nd round player that just rides the bench (like Grant did) just isn’t a good look. 

But most people also agreed this year is a wash. So anybody in the camp of "this year being a wash" shouldn't be concerned that the Falcons took high potential in a year they're expected to suck right?

Additionally the Falcons signed multiple LBs that can start in front of the high potential player on one 1 year deals to allow the player to grow and not lose a lot at the position.

Sounds like a smart plan to me.

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5 minutes ago, octoslash said:

A player with his athleticism needs to be utilized.  Special teams at the very least.  

I don't give a **** if he's a rookie. 

I'm sure he will play special team, actually would be shocked if he did not.

I'm like you, I want him out there and see what he can do day 1 in this system. I'm not so sure Pees will even be the DC next year, depending on the record and his desire. 

In my eyes, **** roster + 2nd round draft pick= GTF on the field and figure it out. Half the forum makes the guy out to be superman, so lets see what superman can do.

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I would be surprised if he saw much of the field on defense this year. This staff has shown they don't rush rookies out unless necessary, and he's considered a project player anyway.

That being said they've talked him up already so maybe he'll force his way into playtime. Time will tell.

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I still think he'll be a big contributor by mid season.  The dude has picked up every position he's been asked to learn very quickly.  I know the NFL is a huge leap from the FCS.  But he played 4 positions (RB, QB, OLB and ILB) in college and excelled at each.  That shows he's not just a freak athlete.  He's also very intelligent and puts in the study work.  The 2 years he played primarily on defense, he had to learn 2 different positions in completely different schemes.   Junior year, Troy played OLB in a 3-4.  Then MSU had a coaching change.  So Senior year, he was MLB in a 4-2-5.   Oh, and the year he started as QB, he came into Spring camp slated to play LB.  So he can learn on the fly  lol

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Pretty lazy article.

Adetokunbo Ogundeji played the second most DE snaps on the team and he was a 5th.  We ALL know Jalen Mayfield was a 3rd and played every snap on the OL. Clearly the team has no issues tossing rookies who aren't 1st rounders into the fire.

The team will play who they play. Trying to map 1 player to another player is just stupid.

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14 minutes ago, runshoot said:

Pretty lazy article.

Adetokunbo Ogundeji played the second most DE snaps on the team and he was a 5th.  We ALL know Jalen Mayfield was a 3rd and played every snap on the OL. Clearly the team has no issues tossing rookies who aren't 1st rounders into the fire.

The team will play who they play. Trying to map 1 player to another player is just stupid.

Neither of them had anybody in front of them. They were basically required to see the field. Our LB'ing corps is one of the deepest positions on defense this year, though.

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