A Look at the Linebackers
The Falcons’ group of linebackers should be a strength heading into 2019, but injury told the tale this past season. Once Deion Jones went down with a foot injury it forced the unit into a state of flux, with Dan Quinn shuffling the deck until he found an alignment that worked best.
This week we took a look at the position as a whole — the good, the bad, and the ugly — and offered a projection of how it may shake out next season. Duke Riley failed to impress in his sophomore effort, his level of play ultimately relegating him to the bench, while rookie Foyesade Oluokun enjoyed an unexpectedly increased role.
A Deep Division
The NFC South has established itself as one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL, producing a consistent group of contenders since its incorporation in 2002. In that time, the Atlanta Falcons have made eight visits to the playoffs, including two trips to the NFC Championship and a Super Bowl berth in 2016.
Collectively, there have been five conference champions in the division since its inception, and two Super Bowl winners — neither of whom are the Falcons, of course. 2016 will be forever seared into the identity of this franchise, but the hated Saints have also developed a recent proclivity for blowing it in the postseason. If there’s ever an appropriate palate cleanser for the sour taste of Atlanta’s failures, it’s New Orleans’ failures.
No, not the Super Bowl. We’ll be watching that one, too; but I’m talking about the Senior Bowl. Some of the 2019 NFL Draft’s top prospects will be participating in the game on Saturday, and our Eric Robinson is out with an early report from the first day of practice.
Be sure to familiarize yourself with some of these names, as they could emerge as draft selections for Atlanta in a few months.
The Athletic’s Jason Butt also name-checks a few Senior Bowl DBs who may be on the Falcons’ draft board.
The Falcons covet corners with length and versatility. There are two smaller-school prospects — one with NFL lineage and one who has local ties and a wrestling background — who could, and should, be of interest to the team: https://t.co/OZZpvVOt4O— Jason Butt (@JasonHButt) January 23, 2019
A Lineman Letdown
Right tackle Ryan Schraeder landed with the team as an undrafted free agent in 2013 and parlayed a couple of solid seasons into a contract extension. That’s essentially a dream scenario for any player who didn’t hear his name called in the NFL Draft, but Schraeder’s recent season was alarming — and may jeopardize his future with the Falcons.
The Falcoholic’s David Walker dives into the numbers and looks at Ryan Schraeder’s letdown of year, and what it may portend for the offseason and beyond.