The Falcons drafted two linebackers in the draft: LSU's Deion Jones and Minnesota's De'Vondre Campbell. Jones was believed to be a WLB, and Campbell could fit at a few different spots. We received a little clarity on that from the team's digital content producer.
. @CookieByNature As of right now Paul Worrilow, Deion Jones and LaRoy Reynolds are slated as the MIKE linebackers!— FalconsKelsey (@FalconsKelsey) May 1, 2016
This changes a lot. Instead of being handed the WLB spot, Jones should be putting on a bit of weight and competing with current starter Paul Worrilow. The veteran's salary this season is guaranteed after signing his tender, but it appears as if 2nd-round pick Jones is the heir apparent to the position. Worrilow's tender was likely to protect the team in case they failed to add a replacement, or in case a rookie face plants in camp.
Our resident draft expert Charles MacDonald had this to say about Jones moving to the middle.
@FalcoholicDW think he definitely has speed, instincts, physicality, and coverage ability to make this work. just *needs* to add weight— reborn falcons fan (@SundayFiasco) May 1, 2016
There should be a limited competition for the starting spot. Worrilow did well beating out the atrocious Akeem Dent in 2013, but failed to improve after more time in the scheme and adding weight. He has proven that he may be more of a backup player that contributes on special teams than an every down starter. It would be a mild upset if Jones is not starting week one, and a major disappointment if he is still warming the bench halfway through the season.
Update: looking for confirmation on this quote, but according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jones is already up to 230 pounds. If I had to guess, I would say he dropped some weight so he could perform better at the combine. That might explain why he is already up 8 pounds, even when unsure of his role.
Yes! Coach Dan said he's up to 230 pounds. https://t.co/XyjNSn77WF— D. Orlando Ledbetter (@DOrlandoAJC) May 2, 2016