Selecting Minnesota Gopher's De'Vondre Campbell in the fourth round caught us so flat-footed, we almost perfectly resembled Jalen Collins in coverage. As is typical with most Falcons day three draft selections, you might be wondering who is this guy.
Campbell was the third fastest OLB in this years draft, which is even more surprising when you consider he is 6-foot-4, 232-pounds. All the scouting reports may actually remind you of Jalen Collins. Impressive athlete that is still learning to play the game.
Per Lance Zierlein at NFL.com.
Wiry and strong, Campbell is just scratching the surface of his potential. Though you'd expect a linebacker of that size to be purely a pass rusher, the Hutchinson Community College transfer moves better than expected in the open field. After a solid sophomore (three starts in 13 games played, 41 tackles, three for loss) season for the Gophers, he earned a starting role as a junior (75 tackles, 6.5 for loss, 2.5 sacks). Campbell lived up to his billing in 2015, named by Big Ten coaches and media honorable mention all-conference as he made 92 tackles, 6.5 for loss, and a team-high four sacks.
Zierlein calls Campbell an explosive athlete with a prototypical frame that is "badly" missing linebacker instincts, and will likely be a project. However, that should be expected from a player that transferred to Minnesota from Hutchinson Community College just a few years back, and played tight end and defensive end in high school. He sat out his entire freshman year due to a concussion. Zierlein expected Campbell to be drafted in the 5th or 6th round.
He made an impression at the Shrine Game, thanks to his physical attributes.
When he hit the field for the West squad on Tuesday, just four days away from the East-West Shrine Game at Tropicana Field, you could see the obvious characteristics that most NFL teams crave on Sundays: height, size, speed, length and athletic ability.
After practice, the Arizona Cardinals became the first team to approach Campbell, who had 123 tackles and 13 for a loss over his last two seasons with the Golden Gophers. And among other personal questions they posed — like whether he ever failed a drug test (once), or was in trouble at Minnesota (late to chapel once).
Falcon great Chuck Smith took an interest in Campbell.
And he was handpicked by Chuck Smith, a former NFL pro bowl lineman for the Atlanta Falcons, to train in Orlando for two months before the draft with seven other premier front-seven prospects.
"He doesn’t make the same mistakes twice," Smith said. "Which is a huge factor when you draft. You teach him, he learns. He soaks up information. He really challenges other guys he’s working with. He brings so much value."
CBS Sports confirmed all of this in their scouting report.
Campbell is a well-built athlete who showed the ability to be a tackling machine at Minnesota.
Everything I have seen says that Campbell is a very smart player, but is still learning to play. Based on Dane Brugler's thoughts, he could get up to speed faster than expected.
Looks the part in pads with near defensive end size, but he is a coordinated athlete on his feet, playing comfortable in space. He has smooth body control and flexible ankles with the read/react instincts to break quickly on the ball. Never lets up with consistent hustle through the whistle each snap.
Campbell settled in with more reps and started to play with less hesitation and more urgency throughout the week of practices at the Shrine Game, showing improvement from practice to practice.
However, he noted the same problems, and there is a lot of question if Campbell can take the next step. Brugler projected him to go in the 5th or 6th round.
Pete Prisco echoed this, saying Campbell is still learning to play the game.
He is 6-5, 238 pounds and can play the run and has some pass-rush ability. He is a JUCO transfer, so he's still learning to play the game. With the right coaching, somebody could get a solid starter late in the draft.
Campbell said he is still learning the linebacker role, and he has "only been playing the position three or four years."
Lets be honest. This selection feels like a small reach, especially with other needs on the roster. But the coaching staff must be sold they can turn Campbell into a great player and start him as a rookie. This is clearly Dan Quinn's draft, and he knows he is taking a big risk with Campbell.