Following the trend set by the Rams and the Cardinals, among others, the Falcons will be eyeing hybrid linebacker/safeties in this year’s draft, as D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution details. Los Angeles’ Mark Barron and Arizona’s Deone Bucannon are just two examples of “safeties” who have morphed into linebacker roles, and several prospects in the 2016 draft, including LSU’s Deion Jones, USC’s Su’a Cravens, and Florida’s Keanu Neal — all of whom Atlanta has met with — could make a similar transition.
“In the college game, they are more spread out,” said Falcons head coach Dan Quinn. “They are more open. You’re seeing more space players come out, who are the 215-, 225-pound linebackers who are outside and playing in space. Those players, we are finding ways to feature them at the NFL level as well because of their athletic ability.”
Here’s more from the NFL’s two South divisions…
- Even if they do end up targeting hybrid linebackers in the draft, the Falcons still need to add talent and depth at the prototypical LB position, writes Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com in his overview of the club as they open offseason workouts. Ohio State’s Darron Lee and Alabama’s Reggie Ragland could both be options for Atlanta at No. 17, opines McClure, who adds that edge-rusher is also near the top of the Falcons’ list of draft needs.
- The Colts are another club drafting in the middle of Round 1 that could use linebacker help, and as such, could be a fit for Ragland. Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star tweets that not only have the Colts held a private workout for the Alabama standout, but with Clemson’s B.J. Goodson, who starred at the combine.
- Oklahoma State defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah will take a short tour of the NFC South this week, as he’s lined up visits with both the Falcons and the Panthers, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). The 6’4″, 270-pound edge rusher could very well be available at either pick No. 17 or No. 30, where Atlanta and Carolina currently sit, respectively.
- Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld will make a visit to Houston to meet with the Texans on Tuesday, tweets Adam Caplan of ESPN.com. Sudfeld has also generated interest from the Saints and Cardinals.
Luke Adams contributed to this post.