DeAngelo Malone wasn't the first edge rusher added to the Falcons NFL Draft class. That mantle fell to Arnold Ebiketie at No. 38 overall. He was a popular prospect from a big school, making a national name for himself during a standout season at Penn State.
The excitement for what he can do at the NFL level, for a Falcons team in desperate need of pass-rush help, is sky freaking high.
Malone isn't getting the same run right now, and for good reason. He was taken 44 picks later. He went to a smaller school in Western Kentucky a casual fan hasn't heard or seen play.
He's a bit smaller than your standard edge, and the expectations aren't quite so high. There's a level of intrigue here that we can't ignore. In fact, we should highlight it heading into this week's rookie minicamp, the first opportunity to watch these guys work in Falcons gear.
Malone has a really fun highlights package, showing the speed and relentlessness and big-play ability you look for in an edge rusher. He's the type of player you could look back at in three years and say the Falcons got unreal value for a local product who thrived at the professional level.
The Falcons need an overhaul of the edge rusher position, adding Malone and Ebiketie to a group that includes fellow newcomer Lorezno Carter – he signed with the team in March – and 2021 fifth-round pick Ade Ogundeji.
There isn't a truly established quarterback hunter in the group, so they'll compete and find roles and establish a rotation that plays to every guy's strengths. It's no failure to end up a passing-down specialist while developing as a pro, and Malone could make hay in a position like that.
The Falcons need guys who can make plays in the backfield, and Malone has done that a ton. The two-time CUSA defensive player of the year had 57.5 tackles for loss over the last four years. He had 31 sacks in that span as well and could be an impactful rusher using speed and athleticism while developing his all-around game.
Atlanta Falcons have drafted Western Kentucky outside linebacker DeAngelo Malone in the third round.
While there's generally a type of edge rusher that fits a certain scheme, the most important trait is winning one-on-one matchups and finding ways to create havoc. Malone has a track record of doing exactly that. While he'll get knocked for playing at a smaller school, Malone stood out big time at the Senior Bowl. He matched up against better competition during the practice week and in the game, where he was named the American Team MVP.
He'll be a player to keep an eye on throughout the offseason program, training camp and beyond as we find out if a highly productive college player can transition well to the pros. The Falcons need some juice off the edge. Malone has vast potential, and could we provide it.