This is the seventh entry in a series of articles examining players from the 2009 NFL Draft. The Falcoholic has almost finished cobbling together a retrospective on the season. Due to truth in advertising laws, we are required to inform you that this post cannot cure your gout. Next on our list, sixth-round linebacker Spencer Adkins.
Sometimes, potential takes the form of a human being. Spencer Adkins is one such human being.
Adkins is the rare draft choice under Thomas Dimitroff who appeared weaker as a football player than as an athlete. Look at Matt Ryan and you'll see a quarterback widely considered to be smarter than the average bear, but not an exceptional athletic specimen. Look at Sam Baker and you'll see a guy who makes up for his short arms with aggression and hard work. Look at our entire cornerbacking corps and you'll see guys drafted by Dimitroff who may not have ideal height or 40 yard dash speed, but fit the Falcons' system well and (allegedly) know their way around a wide receiver. Adkins is not one of these guys. He's an aberration.
The only player selected out of Miami in 2009, Adkins was not a highly touted prospect. He's lightning-fast, a punishing tackler and the kind of guy who can seemingly teleport from one end of the field to the other, moving sideways as fast as a ghost crab. His athleticism has never been in question, but he didn't achieve significant on-the-field results at Miami and thus was in danger of falling out of the draft entirely. The Falcons, who arguably have shown a tendency to go too safe in the late rounds, really rolled the dice on Adkins in 2009. The question wasn't so much when he'd get the positional end of things figured out so much as it was if he'd ever get it figured out at all.
A year later, we don't have the answer to that question, as he got limited playing time and only three tackles. He's got clear value on special teams and it's nice to have a capable athlete as a backup, but the Falcons haven't said anything that indicates where he stands in their long-term plans. The most optimistic projection for Adkins is that he takes one more year to really learn the position and becomes a starter on the outside, replacing Mike Peterson and potentially forming a vicious combination with Stephen Nicholas and Curtin Lofton. Worst case scenario, he's a career backup and offers some value on special teams. For a sixth round pick, the latter wouldn't be bad at all, and the former would be awesome. It depends on how quickly he can learn, and nothing more.
So don't look for Adkins to achieve superstardom in 2010. Don't even expect to see him on the field regularly. Just hope that you'll hear his name a few more times, and that when you do see him he starts to look like a natural linebacker. If that day arrives, Spencer Adkins could be something very special.
Final Grade: INC