The Falcons have at linebacker what the Saints do not – a budding star.
Deion Jones was drafted out of LSU just two years ago, but has already turned into an exciting play-maker at the middle linebacker position. As a rookie he scored two touchdowns, and last season he broke out as Pro Football Focus’s sixth ranked linebacker.
He’s managed to register over 100 tackles and three interceptions in each of his two professional seasons, and has had an impressive nine and eleven pass breakups as well. Finally, Jones’ 138 tackles were tied for the second-most in the entire NFL last season.
Jones is cut very much from the same mold as Tampa Bay’s Kwon Alexander. Both are as rangy as you could ask from a linebacker and use their rare athleticism to force turnovers. It seems fitting that the LSU teammates ended up playing against each other in the NFC South.
Joining Jones in the Falcons linebacker room is third year pro De’Vondre Campbell, who was drafted back in 2016 out of the University of Minnesota. Campbell was third on the Falcons last season with 92, which were 44 more than his rookie season, and he tacked on two sacks as well. Campbell is slotted in at the strongside linebacker position.
Beyond Jones and Campbell the Falcons are thin at linebacker. Their starting weakside linebacker is 23-year-old Duke Riley, a third-round pick from last year’s draft who registered just 30 tackles as a rookie. The team didn’t draft or add anyone in free agency, so it’s safe to say they feel confident in their duo of Jones and Campbell handling most of the heavy lifting with Riley as an early down option.