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De’Vondre Campbell’s quiet dominance continues apace

The second-year linebacker has really done it all in 2017.

Atlanta Falcons v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

I was only too happy to give Grady Jarrett the team’s midseason MVP award yesterday, given how spectacular he has been for Atlanta all season long. I mentioned that De’Vondre Campbell was also in the conversation, and with all the love we gave Jarrett, it’s only fair we turn our attention to another worthy player.

Atlanta’s defense has been improved, outside of some miserable drives and a lack of turnovers, in part because of De’Vondre Campbell. There is arguably no better linchpin for the defense this year, in part because Campbell can do do a bit of everything, and do it well. He’s shown himself to be one of the team’s most physical tacklers, he’s picked up two sacks, plenty of pressures and a forced fumble, and (surprisingly) he’s tied for the lead league in pass deflections by a linebacker. Campbell has done a stellar job of erasing the men he’s been asked to cover, as the stats below help to illustrate.

The most impressive part of all this is that Campbell is only in his second season in the NFL, meaning we still may very well see more from him down the line. There’s no question that for Dan Quinn to reach his dreams of a Seattle-caliber defense in Atlanta, Campbell will have to be great, and he’s probably 90% of the way there already.

The Falcons have some legitimate stars on this defense outside of the secondary for the first time in a long while, with Campbell, Jarrett, Vic Beasley, and Deion Jones all capable of playing at an elite level. With the offense still finding its way a bit, it’s going to be incumbent on the defense to deliver the kind of borderline dominant performance they’re capable of. Campbell, with his pass rushing ability, run-stopping prowess and excellent coverage chops, will be a critical piece of the puzzle.