I've said on a few occasions that I anticipate rookie De'Vondre Campbell will not win the Falcons' starting weakside linebacker job, but I've also said that I hope he does. Today, I'm going to explain why.
You may recall when the Falcons drafted Campbell that his scouting reports sounded pretty glowing for a guy most projected to go in the fifth round or later, with most of the knocks on him centering on his lack of great football instincts and experience, given that he'd only been playing linebacker four years as of 2015. The strength, physicality, speed, and raw talent here have never been in question, though, and the Falcons saw someone that their staff could mold into a potential future starter at one of the weakest position groups on the roster. In the fourth round, he was a risk worth taking.
He's going to have to beat out the likes of Philip Wheeler and Sean Weatherspoon to actually lock down the gig, and both of those players have genuine talent and long NFL experience, so it's an uphill climb. But think about Campbell learning on the job a bit this year and becoming a full-time starter in 2017, which I do think is a strong possibility. Think about the team having a young, very cheap starter at linebacker for these next four years, one who has the legitimate potential to grow into a solid option, in my humble opinion. The Falcons have lacked that for so long--we had hoped Paul Worrilow would become that kind of player, but at least to this point he has had a mixed career--that I can't help but root for the outcome. Add Deion Jones and his tremendous speed at middle linebacker and the Falcons are suddenly better-positioned for the future at linebacker than they have been since...well, a very long time.
I'm getting ahead of myself, here, but Campbell could be a long-term option for Atlanta, and there's no one else on the roster who obviously fits that bill. That's why you should want Campbell to start, too.