The Falcons were terrible on defense in 2015, which explains why they spent their 1st, 2nd, and 4th round draft picks on defensive players. Their first round pick, Deion Jones will likely take over at MLB right away, but the sleeper of the bunch is the 4th round pick, De’Vondre Campbell, who could make a splash as a rookie as well.
* De’Vondre Campbell – Is a 6’4”, 235 pound stud out of Minnesota. The former Gopher spent two years as a starter in the Big 10 after transferring from Junior college. Campbell’s skills lend well to special teams, but also extend to every down on defense. If Campbell refines his coverage abilities, he’ll become a play-maker on Sundays in 2016.
The Carolina LB core is one of the strongest in the league, with stars Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, and Shaq Thompson starting, one would have to sustain an injury before a sleeper would get a chance this year. That said, a boom or bust type of guy to track for the future is Jeremy Cash.
* Jeremy Cash – Was an undrafted rookie free agent in 2016 out of Duke University. The former Blue Devil is considered a project at linebacker, but has all the tools to thrive. Cash is a hybrid type of player in the mold of Deone Bucannon or Su’a Cravens, in that he can play safety and linebacker. At this point in his career, Cash is considered a linebacker in Carolina.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers have two very talented young linebackers in Kwon Alexander and Lavonte David, and if you own either of them, you’re feeling good about your LB1/LB2 situation. For a Tampa Bay sleeper though, you’ll have to check the IR where Devante Bond can be found.
* Devante Bond – The 6-foot-1, 236-pound Bond was a 2016, sixth-round pick out of Oklahoma. He hurt his hamstring earlier this year and was placed on IR by the Bucs. Once Bond gets back on the field, he has shown the athleticism to be a solid NFL linebacker. Bond was a top performer in the Vertical Jump, the 3 cone drill, and ran a 4.7 forty coming out of OU.
New Orleans Saints
New Orleans defense has not played particularly well over the last few seasons, so the players involved in the Saints lineup generally have opportunities for many tackles. The starting linebackers like Danell Ellerbe and Stephone Anthony are fairly set, but watch for a guy like Michael Mauti to get a chance to make a splash.
* Michael Mauti – A former Viking who has had a lot of injuries in his career (2009,2011, and 2012). When healthy, Mauti has solid production all over the field. Keep an eye out for him if one of the starters in New Orleans struggles.
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