A quick glance at the Falcons linebacker depth chart will tell you that there are few sure things heading into 2015.
Paul Worrilow is coming on a bit, he's young and he's a defensive captain, so you have to imagine he'll be in Atlanta even if the regime changes heading into next season. Ditto Prince Shembo, a fourth-round rookie who looked solid before his mysterious demotion to reserve and special teamer. And hell, Joplo Bartu has a decent chance to stick around, given that he's young and athletic and has had some fine moments in 2014.
That's not exactly a murderer's row, however, and Sean Weatherspoon is uncertain to return coming off his injury, Nate Stupar is purely a special teamer (though a damn fine one) and Tyler Starr is a project. There's plenty of room for the team to add talent or shuffle these linebackers around, which creates a real opportunity for a player like Marquis Spruill.
Spruill was billed as a special teamer for Atlanta coming out of college, which gives him a leg up some of the other linebackers lurking on the fringes of the roster. The team may not have needed to trade for Stupar if Spruill hadn't suffered an extremely unfortunate ACL injury in camp that cost him this season. Then there's this:
Falcons rookie LB Marquis Spruill, on season-ending IR (ACL), weighed in at 241 pounds today. He came to the Falcons weighing 220.— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) November 12, 2014
You'll recall one of my major concerns with Spruill was his size, specifically his weight, and a lack of strength that caused him to sometimes wash out of plays. While it's tough to add twenty-plus pounds of muscle in a single offseason, particularly when you're recuperating from an injury, that added weight will only help Spruill as he bids for a roster spot in 2015, even if the staff that liked him enough to trade up for him in the fifth round isn't around to lobby on his behalf.
With a potential regime change looming and Spruill coming off a major injury, he's certainly no lock to return and contribute, I'll grant you. Given the work he's clearly put in this offseason and the flux in the linebacking corps, though, I have to think he's got a real shot to stick as a useful reserve.
What say you?