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Posts tagged with "Duke Riley"
Duke Riley earned a starting job at weakside linebacker as a rookie for the Atlanta Falcons.
Duke Riley earned a starting job at weakside linebacker as a rookie for the Atlanta Falcons.( | The Times-Picayune archive)

Former LSU linebacker Duke Riley earned a starting job for Atlanta in his first NFL game, Falcons coach Dan Quinn announced Friday.

Riley, the LSU team MVP last year, was a third round pick by the Falcons and will start at weakside linebacker in the Falcons’ base package. He will line up alongside former Tiger teammate and middle linebacker Deion Jones when the Falcons play at Chicago Sunday at noon.

In a sense, he outdid his close friend Jones, who didn’t earn the starting job with the Falcons until later in the 2016 season. Jones led all rookies with 108 tackles and helped the Falcons to the Super Bowl.

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As is common with teams which played in the Super Bowl the year before, there isn’t much room for rookies in Atlanta.

In fact, none of their rookies are listed as starters on the unofficial depth chart the team’s PR staff released.

First-round pass-rusher Takk McKinley is actually listed as a third-stringer at defensive end, behind veterans Brooks Reed and Adrian Clayborn.

Of course, McKinley’s been recovering from shoulder surgery and has only recently been given the green light to practice, so it’s not surprising that he’s a little behind. But he’s apparently shown positive signs in camp, and the Falcons are hoping he’s going to become an integral part of their defense.

Third-round linebacker Duke Riley and fourth-round guard Sean Harlow are each listed as backups.

Again, take all these depth charts with a grain of salt, as they’re prepared by PR staffers and not necessarily coaches. But it’s an interesting jumping-off point for discussion with games about to begin.

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The 2017 edition of the NFL Draft is now complete and for the Atlanta Falcons, this draft class presents an opportunity to add talent to key spots on an already talented roster. Last year’s draft class was pretty rare. Four rookies stood out last season for the Falcons (Keanu Neal, Deion Jones, De’Vondre Campbell, and Brian Poole) and all four started in Super Bowl LI. It’s not often that a rookie class produces that much production from a number of individuals.

This cycle, the Falcons decided to address the linebacker position again. Ironically, the team used LSU once again as a source for another athletic linebacker in the third round. At 75th overall, the Falcons selected Duke Riley to help add more speed and athleticism to the second level of their defense. Let’s breakdown Riley’s ability.

Duke Riley Scouting Report

Height: 6’0

Weight: 232 lbs

Strengths: The comparison/similarities to Jones are accurate. Riley’s size is not ideal to many NFL defenses but in Atlanta’s particular scheme, he’s what the system looks for. Riley tested very well at the Combine by posting the second fastest 40-time amongst linebackers and the fifth best in the 3-cone drill. Riley, like Jones, never really came into his own until his senior season. He posted career-highs this past season in tackles with 93 (1st on the team), nine tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, and an interception. Riley is very good in coverage with the ability to open his hips and mirror running backs and tight ends.

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