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Falcons Bye-Week Rookie Review: DeAngelo Malone's Stock Up?

During the Atlanta Falcons' bye week, Falcon Report will be examining the rookie seasons of each of the team's draftees (plus a few extra). Up next in the series is third-round outside linebacker DeAngelo Malone, who's up-and-down season has shown some of the flashes that made him a top-100 pick coming out.

The Atlanta Falcons needed a step up in the pass rush department this past offseason, and targeted outside linebacker DeAngelo Malone to help do that, selecting the Western Kentucky product No. 82 overall.

Considering Malone's college production - 59 tackles for loss and 32.5 sacks in 61 career games - and ties to the Atlanta area, he seemed like a well-rounded solution the pass rush woes.

But through the season's first 13 games, Malone's largely spent time making his mark on special teams while getting acquainted with the physicality of NFL trench play.

There have been occasional flashes of brilliance matched with spurts where his impact was visible ... but that's ultimately just a part of the transition process for rookies, especially those who play at the line of scrimmage.

With 11 games of action under his belt and four more to come, here's a look back at Malone's first year thus far ...

KEY NUMBERS: 20 tackles, four pressures, three tackles for loss, two quarterback hits and one sack. Malone's defensive snap share the last three games: 28 percent, 29 percent, 38 percent - all season-highs at the time.

"REMEMBER WHEN": Malone tracked down Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields behind the line of scrimmage? Fields, who ranks top-10 in rushing yards league-wide and is known for his game-breaking speed, couldn't escape the length and speed of Malone. Of his three tackles for loss, that was perhaps the most physically impressing display.

BEST OF THE BEST: Malone recorded his first (and only) sack against the Cincinnati Bengals, a game in which the Falcons lost by 18 points and were largely uncompetitive throughout. However, it served as a fantastic learning opportunity for Malone, who blew away his previous highs in both snap count and share, recorded two tackles and got home on Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, finishing in space to check a big box off his bucket list.

BIGGEST OBSTACLE: Despite his status as a top-100 pick, Malone was inactive in Week 1 and played just 29 total defensive snaps over the next three games. It was an instant reality check for Malone, who was a dominant force his final three seasons in college - but he's responded to the adversity in a big way.

WHAT'S TO COME: It's unlikely that Malone ascends into a significant role down the stretch, but he should still see around 30 percent of snaps on defense while maintaining his spot on special teams.

ONE LAST LINE: "Those guys are getting better every week," Falcons coach Arthur Smith said of Malone and fellow rookie pass rusher Arnold Ebiketie. "(Arnold) and DeAngelo, they're fun to work with."

You can follow Daniel Flick on Twitter @DFlickDraft

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