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Report: Falcons will move Kemal Ishmael to linebacker, shop for safety in draft

The veteran safety will get a chance to bring his hard-nosed style a little closer to the line of scrimmage.

Carolina Panthers v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The Falcons brought back Kemal Ishmael, which was a huge move for them given his value as a hard-hitting, opportunistic defender and quality special teamer. Now it appears they’ll change his position.

The Falcons already gave Ishmael some run at linebacker a year ago, but I like the move for any number of reasons. Ishmael has always been a big hitter, top-notch run defender and aggressive player who has some coverage limitations, so moving him closer to the line of scrimmage only plays to those strengths while limiting any liabilities. I would not be shocked to see join Deion Jones and De’Vondre Campbell on the field when the Falcons need three linebackers, and if this move proves successful, he may be back on a long-term deal in 2018 and beyond.

This does have an obvious impact on the team’s safety depth. At the moment, Sharrod Neasman is the only backup with upside, and while the team could certainly move Brian Poole or one of their tall backup corners to safety, it’s not a surefire solution. That’s why a draft pick likely makes sense, and there are certainly some intriguing prospects to be found in this class.

The question is whether the Falcons are really looking for someone to go head-to-head with Allen, or if they’re just looking for depth with the upside to do so somewhere down the line. We’ll see what the draft brings, but my guess for now is that you’ll see a late second or early third day prospect coming to the Falcons to essentially replace Ishmael, with Allen holding on to his job for at least another year.