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De'Vondre Campbell brings versatility, length to the defense

Fourth round draft pick De'Vondre Campbell spoke to the media following the second day of rookie minicamp and shared his thoughts on his transition to the NFL.

Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

De'Vondre Campbell is more comfortable in front of the media than a lot of rookies usually are. He's confident and intelligent, and he has a clear idea of how he fits into the Falcons' defense and what he has to offer this team.

Still, the transition to the NFL is a big adjustment for every rookie. The speed of the game is very different from the college level, even for players out of Power 5 programs. Campbell, Atlanta's fourth round draft pick out of Minnesota, has just tried to absorb as much as he can over the course of rookie minicamp.

"I'm just trying to get better and better every day, learn the plays, taking it one day at a time," Campbell said. "Everything's kind of moving so fast right now, because we're installing every day, but I just try to pick up on everything I can. I think I'm picking it up pretty well. But I'm just trying to go in here, take the coaching, go learn from the mistakes that I made today on film and just try to get better."

Part of what Campbell is trying to accomplish is figuring out how to best use his versatility as a player to improve Atlanta's defensive effort. That versatility is what Campbell says he brings to this defense.

"I can guard tight ends, running backs, and I can also get in those passing windows and stuff that a lot of people can't, because I'm a lot taller than the average linebacker," Campbell said. "So that's just a little bit of what I see right now that I can bring to the Falcons organization."

The area of his game he wants to improve is his pass rush, and that's certainly a big need for the Falcons.

Campbell spent the offseason trying to develop this skill with the help of a former Falcon.

"My pass rush is something that I worked on in the offseason with Chuck Smith, who's an Atlanta native," Campbell said. "I trained with him down in Orlando before the Combine and a little bit after, so that was something I was working on then, because I feel like that's a part of my game that, if I work on it, I can really become dominant at, so it's something that I'm trying to implement into my game now."

It was clear right off the bat that Campbell has fully bought into Dan Quinn's "fast and physical" defensive philosophy. He said playing fast at all times was the main thing the coaches were preaching throughout rookie minicamp.

"Like, even if you don't know what's going on, make sure you run to the ball," Campbell said. "Try to get the ball out ... The biggest thing that they've been preaching is, if you make mistakes, make [them] at full speed. You don't want to make a mistake in low, because you can fix errors, but you can't coach effort. Effort is something that's internal. You have to want to do it."

Another thing Dan Quinn consistently preaches is the bond he wants to see between players. That's why the team rearranged the locker room, mixing up position groups and making things more open to encourage interaction across the entire roster. Quinn wants these players to be brothers, and he wants everyone to play for the man next to him.

Campbell and second-round pick Deion Jones are already building that bond.

"He's a good guy, man," Campbell said of Jones. "We've been getting really close the past couple of days. Every day at lunch we sit together, talk, try to get to know each other a little bit better. Just trying to get comfortable with each other, because we're going to be here for a while."