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Duke Riley’s making rapid progress on the Falcons defense

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The rookie linebacker draws high praise from teammate De’Vondre Campbell.

NCAA Football: Louisiana State Spring Game Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Duke Riley has the best hair in this rookie class by a wide margin, but he’s also one of the most intriguing, athletic players the Falcons managed to land. If you want De’Vondre Campbell’s opinion on the matter, Riley is also ready to play. Like, now.

That’s what he told media earlier this week at OTAs, when he said that Riley looks more prepared for the start of his Falcons career than Campbell himself or Deion Jones, who had one of the better rookie seasons in Atlanta history.

I think we’ve probably undersold Riley a little bit around these parts, given our excitement for gifted pass rusher and wonderful character Takkarist McKinley, and our interest in sleepers like Damontae Kazee and Eric Saubert. Riley’s speed and production figure to make him a valuable, quality starter very early in his career, and if you take Campbell’s word for it, Riley could be terrific player right off the bat.

The upshot here is that the Falcons legitimately have one of the best, most exciting young linebacking corps in the entire NFL. It has been way too long since we’ve been able to say that, and if Riley blossoms the way his teammates expect, we’re not going to need to quality that statement much longer.