Remember when we all thought the Falcons might land Jairus Byrd? Then Byrd was handed a huge contract to go to New Orleans, and now he's having what's being termed "minor" back surgery. It honestly seems like the Falcons may have come out ahead there. Then, of course, you remember when the Falcons made an offer to Rafael Bush, only to have the Saints match the offer and retain Bush. So the Falcons signed Dwight Lowery, a veteran who missed the entirety of last season after suffering a concussion, and the signing wasn't exactly met with overwhelming joy.
But after reading this recent Vaughn McClure piece on Lowery and catching up on some details about Lowery's performance during OTAs, I think fans should be pretty excited to have this guy on the Falcons' roster. Lowery has made a habit of learning from his NFL experiences, both good and bad.
Lowery has finely tuned his ability to dissect film, and has been breaking down Atlanta's defensive performances to get a feel for the team and the scheme. What I love about Lowery's observations, as shared by McClure, is that he's pretty forthcoming about some of the bad habits the team has had in the past, particularly when it comes to tackling. Lowery says that he's not sure whether it was caused by taking bad angles to the ball carrier or technique, but did mention that the coaching staff is really emphasizing the need for improvement.
Lowery also picked up on a sense of hesitation or confusion from the defense, particularly as they let a significant lead slip away during the second half of the NFC Championship Game against the 49ers following the 2012 season. That sounds about right.
All reports from OTAs indicate that Lowery is settling in just fine, and is quickly acclimating to being a part of Atlanta's defensive backfield. He's building relationships with William Moore, Desmond Trufant, and Robert Alford, and he took first team reps alongside Moore on Wednesday, even picking off a Matt Ryan pass.
Lowery's injury history made fans understandably wary, but he has been fully cleared to play. Lowery also had a bit of a reputation of not being the best locker room influence in the past, mainly due to tension during his time in Jacksonville, and Lowery himself acknowledges that he didn't always handle frustration in an appropriate way. All indications suggest that Lowery has matured beyond that, and he's ready to be a contributing member of the Atlanta Falcons. Lowery made it clear in his conversation with McClure that he's all about helping the Falcons win.
Atlanta did spend a third round pick on safety Dezmen Southward, a player with phenomenal measurables who is probably too raw at this point to realistically win a starting role. It's reasonable to expect that the Falcons see Southward as their free safety of the future, but it sounds like Dwight Lowery, who is just 28 years old, has the potential to provide solid veteran leadership in that starting role while Southward develops.