Just hours from the start of the 2022 NFL Draft, buzz continues to circulate around the Atlanta Falcons intentions for building their roster for the upcoming season.
Quay Walker (7) and Nakobe Dean (17)
Quay Walker identifies the play
In hopes of bolstering their defensive unit, the Falcons may be in the market for an impact player in the middle of their defense, who can provide the type of sideline-to-sideline coverage needed to neutralize the high-speed receivers, running backs and quarterbacks. They may also have their sharp eye on a potential thumper, with the skill set to potentially be just as versatile.
As the Draft draws near, Atlanta may benefit from giving strong consideration of linebackers, formerly of the National Champion Georgia Bulldogs: Nakobe Dean and Quay Walker.
In doing so, they may be able to keep some homegrown talent in the great state of Georgia.
Standing at only 5-11 , combined with questions surrounding his reach and wingspan, Dean may not exactly be your prototypical NFL linebacker. Still, for a defense that is looking for, Dean may be the perfect antidote.
Dean’s reputation as a sure-fire impact player at the pro-level is apparent among scouts within the conference. In fact, his prospectus for assimilation into a pro-level defense is quite high.
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“One of the best people I’ve ever scouted,” an AFC scout told ESPN of Dean on Wednesday. “He will learn the playbook in two days. Minimal deficiencies.”
Dean has a powerful motor, with an ability to beat blocks and complete his tackles in space. The former Georgia Bulldog plays downhill and has a knack for locating the football. rapidly diagnosing plays, and slipping away from blocks to make the tackle. As a result, he rarely misses tackles in the box.
While the eighth selection may be a bit high for Dean’s services, Atlanta does have the draft capital to consider a move back into the end of the first round. With four picks in the top 100, a trade of a second- and later-round selection could give them a shot to grab Dean.
Originally projected as a second-round pick, Walker’s draft stock continues to rise as the draft nears. In fact, some have projected him as a potential first round selection.
Walker remains one of the more intriguing linebacker prospects in the 2022 draft class. He possesses the blend of size, athleticism and toughness typically coveted by Atlanta. At 6-4, 240, Walker more than adequately fits the pro-level template at the position. Still, he adds notable speed to his size and strength, giving him the potential to be a stout run defender at the second level. Throughout his time at Georgia he has also proven to be quite durable, having appeared in 52 games for the program.
Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith
Walker became a starter for the first time during his 2021 senior season with the Bulldogs. As a result, his resume is a bit thin with regard to seeing time in coverage. Walker will need to improve his processing skills to become a top performer at the pro level. However, his power in the tackling game, as well as his upside to chase down plays in space makes him worth the watch for the Falcons in the early goings of the 2022 NFL Draft.