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How much will Leonard Floyd's versatility matter for the Falcons?

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If ESPN's Vaughn McClure is right, a lot.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

We don't know who the Falcons will take in the first round. It seems fair to winnow down to several players on the defensive side of the ball, ranging from Albama's Reggie Ragland to Clemson's Shaq Lawson, but narrowing down is about all we can do. That said, we're not going to stop looking for clues, and ESPN's Vaughn McClure has an intriguing one buried in his writeup of Mel Kiper's mock Ragland selection for Atlanta.

The Falcons obviously have first-round interest in Ragland, Lee, and Georgia's Leonard Floyd among the inside linebackers. UCLA's Myles Jack, the ideal fit, is likely to be out of the Falcons' reach as a projected top-5 pick.

Floyd probably would be valued over Ragland and Lee, if available, based on his position flexibility. The Falcons view him as an inside linebacker who can cover and thrive while blitzing. The only issue with Floyd is his slight build at 6-5 and 248 pounds, something he said he's working on.

You'll note the qualifiers here, but I think McClure is pushing Floyd because he has reason to suspect the Falcons are into the Georgia product. While Floyd is a fine player and a tremendous athlete, the real reason Atlanta is interested in him seems to be that versatility.

If you think about the way the Falcons have built their defense under Dan Quinn, you start to see a pattern up front. Adrian Clayborn and now Derrick Shelby are defensive ends who can and do kick inside, Courtney Upshaw is a linebacker who might be able to play end, and Vic Beasley will play both end and linebacker. If the Falcons truly believe Floyd can rush the passer, cover tight ends, and move all around the formation, he becomes their biggest chess piece on defense, and the Falcons suddenly have a pretty flexible front that can contort itself into all sorts of configurations, depending on the opponent and game situation.

There are many reasons not to want Floyd in Atlanta—he could be a jack of all trades and master of none, and he is slightly built—but it's not hard to see the appeal for the Falcons if Floyd is everything he's cracked up to be. If he does wind up with Dan Quinn and company, versatility will be one of the biggest reasons.