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Falcons LB Corps: Worst in The NFL?

What's the outlook on the middle of Atlanta's defense?

Last season, the Atlanta Falcons' linebackers were the most productive position group on the team, with Foye Oluokun leading the entire NFL in tackles with 192, and Deion Jones racking up a stout 137.

However, Oluokun is off to Jacksonville, and Jones appears to be on his way out, as well. As a result, the Falcons added several linebackers this off-season, including free agents Rashaan Evans and Nick Kwiatkoski, and second-round draft pick Troy Andersen.

According to PFF, general manager Terry Fontenot's efforts aren't enough, as the Falcons' linebacker group was ranked as the worst in the league.

After looking like he might be the next great linebacker earlier in his career, Deion Jones‘ play has fallen off a cliff. He might not even start this season. Rashaan Evans and Mykal Walker are solid players, though, and the team will hope that rookie Troy Andersen can make an early impact. - PFF's Seth Galina

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John Smith is entering his senior season as a cornerback and punt returner.

Evans' best professional season came in 2019, his final year with current Falcons defensive coordinator Dean Pees when the two were in Tennessee. The 26-year-old racked up 111 tackles, nine tackles-for-loss and 2.5 sacks.

Walker has 80 tackles in 33 games (eight starts) across the past two seasons, though he hasn't been given a consistent opportunity to prove himself. At 6-3, 230 pounds, Walker has proven playmaking ability, shown by his 66-yard pick-six last season against Carolina.

Andersen was one of the best size-speed prospects in the 2022 draft class, as he ran a 4.42 40-yard dash at 6-3, 243 pounds. The Falcons like Andersen's football intelligence, as he played on both sides of the ball at Montana State.

A name to remember from the group is undrafted rookie Nate Landman, who had a highly productive college career at Colorado and performed well at OTAs.

For the Falcons to improve on their 7-10 record a year ago, they'll need a high level of play from the middle of their defense. Faced with potentially replacing over 300 tackles from last season is a tall task, but with Fontenot bringing in pieces that better fit Pees' defense, Atlanta's outlook at the position is brighter than its 32nd overall ranking indicates.