The Atlanta Falcons began a voluntary mini-camp yesterday, a collateral benefit of the Mike Smith firing. Any NFL team with a new head coach can do the same. While it's just a pre-draft mini camp, there's one interesting story line you may want to follow. As Vaughn McClure astutely pointed out yesterday, it's worth following Quinn's use of Dezmen Southward.
The second-year defensive back played free safety last season but has been working on the possible switch to cornerback this offseason. Southward has the length and speed Quinn wants out of a cornerback, but needs to improve his ball skills. The problem is, the Falcons need a starting free safety after striking out in free agency. Veteran Charles Godfrey could get the opportunity, and the draft is a possibility as well. It might take a while for the Falcons to develop cohesion at safety with starting strong safety William Moore likely to be held out of on-field work following significant shoulder surgery.
Quinn was very direct about his preference regarding Southward earlier in the off-season. The Falcons want to transition him to cornerback. But that was before they struck out at free safety in free agency, leaving them exceptionally thin at the position. Given that, you have to wonder whether Quinn's mentality has changed.
We won't hear much about the mini-camp, but do yourself a favor: keep an eye on the Southward storyline. If the Falcons don't move him to cornerback, free safety is a lesser priority in the draft. If they do transition him, their draft strategy has to involve the addition of a free safety.