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NFL combine: Falcons met with top edge rushers in NFL Draft

INDIANAPOLIS – After finishing with the second-fewest sacks in the league last season, the Atlanta Falcons have made it clear that improving their pass rush is a major priority this offseason.

As football has become more space-oriented, the linebacker position has undergone an interesting evolution. Linebackers now have to have the ability to cover opposing running backs and tight ends, but they've also developed more pass-rushing skills. That was evident in the class of linebackers at this year's combine, which includes players like K'Lavon Chaisson out of LSU and Zack Baun out of Wisconsin.

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The Falcons met with at least 10 of the linebackers at this year's event, including a formal interview with Chaisson, who has been linked to Atlanta in some mock drafts. Here is a list of the players who said they've met with the Falcons this week:

  • Anfernee Jennings, Alabama – Informal
  • Casey Toohill, Stanford – Informal
  • Curtis Weaver, Boise St. – Informal
  • Darrell Taylor, Tennessee – Informal
  • Josh Uche, Michigan – Informal
  • K'Lavon Chaisson, LSU – Formal
  • Malik Harrison, Ohio St. – Informal
  • Patrick Queen, LSU – Informal
  • Terrell Lewis, Alabama – Informal
  • Zack Baun, Wisconsin – Informal

WHAT THE PROSPECTS HAD TO SAY

Anfernee Jennings: "I met with Tosh [Lupoi], but it wasn't about anything serious. He just told me a little bit about what they did and what they like to do. [They saw me] kind of as a SAM and asked me if I could play MIKE, just a lot of different things."

Casey Toohill: "It was more just talking some ball. It was a good conversation. We talked about playing in space, what I'd be asked to do if I played for the Falcons, kind of my role there. We talked about my Stanford experience and also some things to work on, I really enjoyed that conversation. A lot of our conversation we talked about [my ability to cover and rush the passer], which I was really comfortable discussion because I had to do both at Stanford. I embraced that, I like doing both. That was a good, well-rounded conversation."

Curtis Weaver: "We were just going of the defense and talking about background, nothing crazy. They talked about how pass rushing was a big thing."

Darrell Taylor: "I had a meeting with the Falcons my first day here, and it was pretty awesome. I had a chance to get around those guys and let them know what I stand for as a player. I was just happy to sit down and talk ball, go through simulations and things like that. It was pretty awesome."

Josh Uche: "They just talked about playing in the Atlanta scheme, different things like that. They wanted to know what my defense was like, what my role was on the defense, and they just wanted to kind of get to know me."

Malik Harrison: "Just a general conversation, getting to know me. We just went down the defense and simple things like that."

Patrick Queen: "It was very chill and just comfortable; they didn't try to overdo anything. They asked me a lot of stuff about my plays, asking me if I was comfortable with this and drawing up stuff, and I was. I feel like the meeting went good."

Terrell Lewis: "We were basically just talking about background and how they would use me, asking me questions about how I think I fit with the Atlanta Falcons. Obviously, they've got a guy like Tosh over there who knows a lot about me, so they kind of asked me what would he say about you, things like that. I think I fit well, on and off the field."

Zack Baun: "They gave me some good tips on things I do well, things I don't do well. Just a brief conversation. I think they're a team that's looking for an all-around guy like me."

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