The Falcons threw us a few curveballs in this draft class, but the team trading up for a special teamer certainly qualified as one of the bigger surprises. LSU’s Russell Gage was a semi-interesting wide receiver, but his chief calling card was his potential as a gunner and perhaps a returner.
Or was it? The Falcons are trying something interesting with Gage early in rookie minicamp, as he played cornerback on his very first day and will get time at wide receiver tomorrow. It’s possible the Falcons are just trying him out at corner for a lark—he’s athletic and has ball skills, at the very least—but it’s also possible that the team is serious about at least having him play there part-time in 2018, and is looking to switch him full-time after the year. Aaron Freeman at FalcFans was among those who said earlier in the month that the team might consider that switch.
#Falcons rookie WR Russell Gage played corner today during rookie camp practice. Dan Quinn says he will play WR tomorrow.— Justin Felder (@Justin_FOX5) May 11, 2018
It would be kind of cool to see Gage get time on both sides of the ball, since his primary role is going to be special teams no matter what and he might legitimately be a useful player for five or ten snaps on offense and defense per game. If the Falcons do think he could be a good corner, though, a switch in 2019 when Justin Bethel and Blidi Wreh-Wilson will be gone (and Brian Poole could be a full-time safety, even) would put him in competition for some real snaps.
For now it’s just an interesting footnote for very early in the offseason program, but Gage is an interesting player and I do believe the Falcons may have some creative plans for him. At the very least, he and Bethel should be a huge upgrade over what the team had for gunners in 2017.