For an Atlanta Falcons defense that ranked largely amongst the league's worst last season, any and all unexpected contributions are valued.
The team spent significant capital on improving the defense both in free agency and the draft and is now getting a positive return on one of its undrafted rookies.
According to ESPN, linebacker Nate Landman has been Atlanta's surprise offseason standout. A four-time All-Pac 12 honoree, Landman racked up 409 tackles, 41 tackles-for-loss, and 11 sacks across five seasons at the University of Colorado.
Standing 6-3, 230 pounds, Landman's instincts and intelligence had him around the ball often for the Buffaloes, a characteristic that is translating to the NFL. While the pads have yet to go on, Landman is still impressing with his ability to be in position to make plays.
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This is admittedly a deep cut in terms of the Atlanta roster, but the undrafted rookie was active in 7-on-7 drills -- the only heavy action in the OTA period -- and seemed to have a knack for finding the ball. It's probably still a tough road for Landman to make the roster as an inside linebacker, but he might have jumpstarted himself at least into being in the conversation if he builds on his OTAs during training camp. - ESPN's Michael Rothstein.
The 23-year-old Landman faces competition in the form of veteran free agent adds Rashaan Evans and Nick Kwiatkoski, third-year pro Mykal Walker, second-round draft pick Troy Andersen, and 2021 undrafted rookie Dorian Etheridge, who managed to play in seven games last season.
While Evans, Walker and Andersen are safe bets to make the roster, the other spots at inside linebacker remain open. Landman's tackling prowess lends itself favorably to special teams, an area he has experience in from his freshman season in college and will have to be his calling card to stick on Atlanta's roster.
Landman will have to show he can translate his OTA ball-finding ability to finishing plays when pads come on, but if his college career is any indication, that shouldn't be a problem. From here, he has to keep stacking good days, but the ultra-productive Landman is off to a good start.