The Atlanta Falcons, after going 8-8 in Dan Quinn’s first year as head coach, attempted to upgrade the roster this offseason.
With the team set to report to training camp on Wednesday, July 27, here’s a look at the Falcons’ top 10 newcomers:
10. Tom Compton, tackle/guard. He was signed to a one-year, $760,000 contract. He will have a shot at winning the backup swing tackle position.
9. Matt Schaub, quarterback. He was signed to a one-year $1.75 million contract after playing last season with the Ravens. He has experience in the offense from his days with the Houston Texans. He can help out Matt Ryan with the intricacies of the offense and at age 34, the former Falcons draft pick, may be able to get them through a game in case of an emergency.
8. Sean Weatherspoon, linebacker. The former first-round pick is back after spending a year with the Arizona Cardinals. He was a reserve on a team that reached the NFC championship game. He signed a $1.5 million incentive-laden deal. If he returns to good health, Weatherspoon could restore some credibility to the linebacker unit or at least help show the younger players the way.
7. Courtney Upshaw, linebacker/defensive end. The former Ravens standout is a native of Eufala, Ala. and he played at Alabama in college. He selected the Falcons after also receiving interest from the Jets, Patriots and 49ers. He signed a one-year, $1.25 million contract in March. Upshaw played four years in Baltimore. He worked out as a defensive end over the offseason.
6. De'Vondre Campbell, weakside linebacker. He was a fourth-round pick out of Minnesota. He spent part of the OTAs and minicamp working with the first-team defense. Played both inside and outside at Minnesota. He played in 13 games and started 11 games. He finished third on the team with 92 tackles, including 6.5 for loss. At 6-foot-4, he has length to cover a lot of ground. "In our defense, we put a lot on our backers… regarding vertical responsibility with receivers," linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich said.
5. Deion Jones, middle linebacker. Jones finished the offseason working with the first-team defense at the mandatory minicamp. He'll have to beat out Paul Worrilow, the team's leading tackler over the past three seasons. There's a clear path to the field for Jones if he can cover running backs on third-down situations. Worrilow was a liability in pass coverage last season, as opposing quarterbacks had a 104.6 passer rating throwing in his direction. Jones ran the 40-yard dash in 4.38 seconds at LSU's Pro Day and has the speed to keep up with running backs. Quinn has repeatedly talked about getting faster on defense.
4. Derrick Shelby, defensive lineman. The Falcons signed Shelby to a four-year, $18 million deal. Shelby, 6-foot-2 and 280 pounds, had 3.5 sacks last season for the Dolphins. Shelby, 27, has played in 63 games and made nine starts. He has nine career sacks. He was one of those "value signings" that the Falcons like in free agency. He spent a lot of time at defensive tackle during the offseason.
3. Mohamed Sanu, wide receiver. The Falcons parted way with Roddy White, the franchise's all-time leading receiver in February. Sanu was signed to a five-year, $32.5 million contract to replace White as the team's No. 2 wide receiver. Sanu, 26, caught 61 percent (152 of 249) of his targets in four seasons with the Bengals. He has amassed 1,793 yards and 11 touchdowns. Sanu was selected in the third-round (83rd overall) of the 2012 draft. He's considered a good, but not great wide receiver. Sanu, a former high school quarterback, has completed five of five passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns in the NFL.
2. Keanu Neal, strong safety. Neal was the 17th player selected in the NFL draft. He spent some of his time before the start of camp working out with Seattle safety Kam Chancellor. He's slated to replace William Moore as the starting strong safety for the Falcons. Despite being last in the league with 19 sacks, the Falcons picked Neal over Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson, Alabama linebacker Reggie Ragland, Ohio State linebacker Darron Lee and UCLA linebacker Myles Jack. The Falcons stayed true to their "needs-based" and "system-specific" drafting system. "The strong safety position is a critical one for us and one that's really valuable," Quinn said.
1. Alex Mack. center. The Falcons signed the three-time Pro Bowler to a five-year, $47.5 million during free agency. He played for Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Shanahan while with the Cleveland Browns in 2014. He's expected to help solidify the interior of the line. "Alex brings a lot of experience," offensive line coach Chris Morgan said. "He's played a lot of ball. He brings toughness. He's a really smart and vocal guy."
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