The Atlanta Falcons lucked out and landed Vic Beasley with the 8th overall pick in last week's NFL draft. Just a week later, one day into rookie mini-camp, the Falcons are officially listing Beasley as an outside linebacker, not a defensive end. What are the implications of that decision?
The implications may seem obvious, but it likely signals the Falcons' intent to keep Beasley upright permanently. Beasley made a point of showcasing his potential as a linebacker in the months leading up to the draft. He also put on 15 pounds of muscle, wanting to shake his reputation as a poor run defender. He wanted to show teams he could be versatile, if needed. That said, most experts presumed he wouldn't play DE in the NFL. The Falcons clearly believe OLB is the best place to utilize Beasley's unique, dynamic edge rushing skill set.
It's not clear that Beasley can be a three down linebacker from day one. It's a transition for him, after playing DE at Clemson. If anything, the Falcons will deploy him on third down and in obvious passing situations, just until he gets his feet wet. I won't be surprised if his snaps quickly increase; Beasley's 33 college sacks proved he has a knack for getting to the quarterback.