clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Falcons shopping for hybrid players in the 2016 NFL Draft

New, comments

The Falcons need safeties and linebackers, so they'd like players who could be both safeties and linebackers.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

We used to make fun of Mike Smith and his staff for prizing versatility, but Dan Quinn and company also do so, and it sounds like they're going to ramp up their commitment to players who can make an impact at multiple positions.

This is going to be a factor at both linebacker and safety, where the Falcons have needs and not enough draft picks to fill them all with immediately useful players. Someone like USC's Su'a Cravens, LSU's Deion Jones, or even Florida's Keanu Neal might be asked to log time at both positions. Doing so would give the Falcons the opportunity to put Cravens at linebacker on early downs and let Kemal Ishmael play strong safety, and move Cravens back to safety in place of Ishmael on clear passing downs when Ishmael's coverage ability is more of a concern. There's a lot of utility for a player like that, even if Quinn doesn't wind up switching things around all the time.

This would at least help to explain why the Falcons have been so curiously quiet when it comes to acquiring a starting-caliber safety and speedy linebackers, considering that both are potentially back-breaking holes on a defense that otherwise looks stronger than a year ago. We'll see if the Falcons actually pull the trigger on a guy like Cravens or, more likely, Jones.

It's worth noting that while the focus of Ledbetter's article is on those safety/linebacker hybrids, the Falcons have been sniffing around some versatile offensive linemen who may be able to play guard or tackle, with the interior unsettled aside from Alex Mack and Ryan Schraeder's status uncertain beyond 2016.

Who do you have your eye on for hybrid prospects?