I have to admit that I’m a bit surprised the Falcons didn’t elect to bring back LaRoy Reynolds, though admittedly the year is young yet. Reynolds has been one of the team’s most consistent special teams performers since joining up, and typically a fine reserve when he gets the chance to play linebacker. I had re-signed myself to the idea that the Falcons would likely choose between Kemal Ishmael and Reynolds and would probably be letting Ishmael go.
That didn’t happen, of course. Instead, the Falcons brought back Ish and used one of their sixth round picks on an intriguing linebacker/safety prospect from Yale. Foye Oluokun’s athleticism stands out, he’s got a track record of quality special teams play from college, and his most likely position in the pros does appear to be linebacker. I had said earlier in the year that I anticipated the Falcons would start looking to stack depth at linebacker that fit their preferred athletic profile, and Oluokun appears to be the first piece of the puzzle there.
Nothing’s set in stone just yet, but all that makes it very possible that Oluokun will be Reynolds’ replacement, and one of the team’s long-term reserve options at outside linebacker. The knocks on his game sound eerily like De’Vondre Campbell’s—a lack of instincts and awareness, an over-reliance on athleticism rather than skill—and it’s possible the Falcons will groom him for bigger things. Both Oluokun and fellow sixth rounder Russell Gage are expected to be pressed into duty on teams right away, though, and in the year 2018 with three talented young starting linebackers, that’s chiefly what we would have expected from Reynolds.
To answer the question I posed in the title of this piece, I’d fully expect Oluokun to replace LaRoy Reynolds, with the latter being an option in the summer if A) he’s un-signed and B) Oluokun scuffles. The more intriguing question for Oluokun is if he can become more than just a reserve linebacker and special teamer down the line, but we’re a very long way from knowing the answer to that.