The Falcons didn't draft a linebacker in this year's draft. That says something. What it says is ultimately up for debate. But if you're asking me, as I'm sure you are, I'd argue it speaks volumes about the front office's confidence in the existing personnel.
Several undrafted free agent linebackers were signed by the Falcons. Prior to those signings, the only linebackers under contract were Akeem Dent, Sean Weatherspoon, Stephen Nicholas, Robert James, Brian Banks, and Pat Schiller. Not the sort of depth you'd consider ideal. Keep in mind that Mike Peterson is no longer under contract, and it's unlikely the Falcons bring him back. Nick Clancy, Joplo Bartu, and Paul Worrilow were the undrafted free agents added to the mix.
First, let's just assume that the starting three linebackers are set in stone. If you think otherwise, Vishnu help you. From there, there's a lot of uncertainty. Despite all odds, Robert James has carved out a nice little niche with the Falcons. The coaching staff has, time and time again, kept him aboard. It's hard not to wonder why that is. One would think there is some rationale, some sort of potential they're seeing. Schiller had a good camp last year, before being cut and then ultimately re-signed as a practice squader. Banks is the feel good story of the century. And then there are the undrafted free agents.
Clancy had the third-most tackles in the country last year (he led the ACC). That said, he benefited from a defensive scheme that funnels ball carriers to the middle linebacker. Biggest knock on him is a lack of technique, which can be coached. He's versatile, having played all three linebacker positions at various points. Bartu was a star in the semi-proesque All-Western Athletic Conference. He had a fantastic game against perennial power New Mexico State in his senior year, notching 17 tackles, 4 sacks, and forced fumble. He's also got a ridiculously cool name; way cooler than "James" - that's for sure. Warrilow has solid technique and all the football smarts you look for in an NFLer. Some critics say he isn't fast enough to be anything but a 2 down linebacker and special teamer, but he has run sub 4.6 40s.
All said, I'd imagine the Falcons carry 5 linebackers, just like last season. It's an interesting position battle to watch, with 2 potential spots up for grabs. My best guess? Schiller and Banks nab those spots. I'm utterly convinced James is hanging on by his fingernails, and I don't see much value in Clancy, Bartu, or Worrilow. In my humble but historically inaccurate opinion, Worrilow has the best shot at landing on the practice squad. 7th rounder Zeke Motta certainly could find himself in the mix as well. Craziness!