clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Pre-draft position breakdown: Linebacker

New, comments

With the draft fast approaching, it’s time to take one final look at the roster to determine the Falcons’ positional needs. Today we look at LB, where Atlanta has two starters but very little behind them. How big is the need at LB in the 2020 NFL Draft?

New Orleans Saints v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images

With the 2020 NFL Draft coming up quickly, it’s time to take one final look at the roster before the rookies arrive. The Falcons were fairly active in free agency, addressing some of their most pressing needs and creating some new ones. Over the next week or so, I’ll be taking a look at several of the positions on the roster to determine if the Falcons need to invest resources there in the draft. If you missed any previous entries in the series, you can find them below:

G | EDGE | DT | CB | LB

Today, we move on to LB, where the Falcons have a star in Deion Jones and a solid starter in Foyesade Oluokun. After losing De’Vondre Campbell in free agency, the depth is thin and Atlanta has a lot of question marks behind them. Should we trust Jones and Oluokun as the starting duo, and just how big is the need at the position heading into the draft? Let’s take a closer look at the depth chart.

Current Depth Chart

Deion Jones
Foyesade Oluokun
Edmond Robinson
LaRoy Reynolds
Ahmad Thomas

The Falcons have one of the best young LBs in the league in Deion Jones, who’s a tremendous athlete with excellent coverage chops and quality tackling ability. Starting next to him will be third-year player Foyesade Oluokun, who comes from a DB background and has looked like an average starter over his first two seasons. Behind those two, however, there isn’t much in the way of proven veteran depth.

Edmond Robinson, an XFL standout and recent free agent addition, probably has the inside track to start at SAM. He’s got good size at 6’3, 245, solid athleticism, and blitzing ability. LaRoy Reynolds is a special teams standout who is probably best served as a rotational player on the defense, although he does have a lot of experience in the scheme. Former UDFA Ahmad Thomas has spent time with several NFL teams, most recently joining the Falcons in 2019. He’ll be around to compete in camp for a possible spot on the roster.

Is it a draft need?

Although I don’t think going into the season with Deion Jones and Foyesade Oluokun as your two starters in nickel sets is necessarily a bad thing, the lack of depth and developmental talent behind them is concerning. All it takes is one injury for LaRoy Reynolds to be pushed into the starting lineup. While Reynolds can hold the fort for a game or two, the Falcons still need to add talent to the position.

I do believe LB is one of the bigger needs for the Falcons, although it isn’t quite on par with CB and DT. The 2020 class is pretty top-heavy, with three LBs projected in the first and six on Day 2. After that, however, the talent drops off pretty quickly. I’ve mentioned in other articles that I believe Atlanta is working to orchestrate a trade for Clemson’s Isaiah Simmons if he should fall past pick 7, but there are other quality options as well.

Patrick Queen and Kenneth Murray could both be options if the Falcons elect to trade back in the first round. The sweet spot after that may be in the third round, where the team could be deciding between some of my favorite prospects: Texas Tech’s Jordyn Brooks, Appalachian State’s Akeem Davis-Gaither, Wyoming’s Logan Wilson, and Mississippi State’s Willie Gay Jr. A draft where the Falcons take an impact CB and DT in the first two rounds and then get one of those guys at LB in the third would be a tremendous start to 2020.

What are your thoughts on the LB group heading into the 2020 NFL Draft? Where do you think the Falcons will target the position? Who are some of your favorite prospects for Atlanta?