Falcons’ Damontae Kazee named a rising defensive star to watch

Atlanta Falcons cornerback Damontae Kazee (27) tackles Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jakeem Grant (19), during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
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Atlanta Falcons cornerback Damontae Kazee (27) tackles Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jakeem Grant (19), during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, in Miami Gardens, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Credit: Wilfredo Lee

Credit: Wilfredo Lee

After playing in one exhibition game, Atlanta Falcons safety Damontae Kazee has been named one of the NFL's risings stars on the defensive side of the ball.

On NFL.com writer Ike Taylor's list of five rising defensive stars, Taylor glowed about the former San Diego State defensive back writing Kazee has been underestimated because of his small frame, but his training camp and preseason performance has proved what he's made of.

"Kazee has outstanding awareness and ball skills, which will make it hard for Dan Quinn to keep him off the field, even with a deep secondary," Taylor wrote. "Expect big things from a guy who reminds me a lot of Earl Thomas and Tyrann Mathieu— both small, dominant free safeties. Does Kazee have what it takes to be a Pro Bowl-caliber safety? He's certainly trending that way, but I'm not ready to make that prediction. However, it's realistic to say he could spend a January weekend in Orlando after Year 2."

Kazee, 5-foot-10, 184 pounds, was selected in the fifth round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Falcons.

Taylor also included Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt, Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis and Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas on his list of young defenders to watch.