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Marquand Manuel is the Falcons assistant most likely to become a head coach down the line

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After a productive year for Atlanta, he could be a hot name on the market as soon as 2018.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

This week at SB Nation, every NFL site is looking through its coaching staff and trying to determine which one is most likely to become a future head coach. Fortunately for us, we’ve got one of the easier choices in the league.

That would be rising star Marquand Manuel, a hot name in coaching circles even before he was made the Falcons’ defensive coordinator in 2017. Manuel is a well-regarded coach and former player who is known for communicating effectively with his players and has done masterful work with secondaries in Seattle and Atlanta. His work in Atlanta as a defensive coordinator has been a bit of a mixed bag, but he has still improved the unit over his predecessor Richard Smith.

Under Manuel, the Falcons’ 2017 defense has been exceedingly poor at getting off the field and stopping the run and have had a bad run of luck (or skill) getting turnovers, but has been improved more or less across the board otherwise, and are a top ten unit by some metrics. That’s likely enough for teams sniffing around for a defensive-minded head coach to take a hard look at Manuel, and even if he’s not in play in 2018 when teams like the Giants and possibly Browns are looking for experienced coaches to stabilize their wayward franchises, I’d imagine he’ll be in play in 2019 and beyond.

That would leave the Falcons scrambling for a defensive coordinator again, but to be fair, they have a defensive-minded head coach who seems comfortable taking over play calling duties for stretches. I’d be stunned if Manuel isn’t a head coach somewhere within the next three years, though.