Atlanta needs some unique pass-rushing athletes who can make a difference in the Mike Nolan defense. At the East-West Shrine Game, they showed interest in small-school talent Ethan Westbrooks according to Tony Pauline of DraftInsider.net.
Atlanta Falcons constantly talking about Ethan Westbrooks/W Tex AM. Seems like a natural fit in mid-to-late rounds.— Tony Pauline (@TonyPauline) January 15, 2014
To start off this year's potential Falcons' draft pick profiles, we'll take a look at the talents of Westbrooks and how he'll fit into the Falcons team and defense.
West Texas A&M University
6'4", 275 Pounds
2013: 14 Games Played, 43 Tackles, 19.5 Tackles for Loss, 7.0 Sacks, 10 QB Hurries, 1 Fumble Forced, 2 Fumbles Recovered, 5 Pass Deflections
2012: 15 Games Played, 60 Tackles, 28.0 Tackles for Loss, 19.5 Sacks, 19 QB Hurries, 3 Fumbles Forced, 2 Pass Deflections
2011: Played at the Junior College level.
2010: Played at the Junior College level.
Westbrooks' biggest strengths come from his first step off the line. He’s able to use it to bypass slower offensive tackles, and on top of that, he’s able to slip inside and penetrate better than most ends out there. He also has great strength off the snap and can throw offensive linemen around like rag dolls.
He’s got the ability to add some more weight to his 6’4” frame. He also has long arms and a build similar to that of Malliciah Goodman. With multiple players who have the same kind of skill sets and developmental talents, the Falcons could improve their depth.
Westbrooks' biggest weaknesses come from his inexperience at the position against even Division I-level competition. He's completely unrefined in his technique and does get washed out in run plays. He's also got a frame that could use some more strength for his bull rush and run defense.
How does he fit the Comrade Filter?
While he's not the former team captain most Atlanta Falcons players are, he is the kind of player who doesn't cause trouble off the field and plays the game with a competitive fire. Westbrooks is someone who fits into the new, tougher mentality that the Falcons want to breed on both sides of the ball.
A raw, yet supremely talented prospect for his level of competition in college, Westbrooks has shown to be someone who could be valuable for the Falcons. Nolan will enjoy his abilities as a defensive end and tackle hybrid, and will use him all over the four-man defensive fronts and at end in the three-man fronts.
In the East-West Shrine Game, Westbrooks performed extremely well with two sacks, multiple tackles for loss and just overall domination of the tackles put across from him. It will be interesting to see what the Falcons do in regard to pass-rushers. But Westbrooks will definitely be on the radar.
How he would fit into the Falcons' plans
Currently, he has a seventh-round projection, but with a great East-West Shrine Game and some good combine numbers, he could push his way into the middle rounds of the draft. He has the potential to have a long-term impact similar to that of Greg Hardy.
But in his first season or two, he's likely to be a situational pass-rusher for the Falcons on the inside or the outside. He has ability to play the 3-technique as well as any defensive end role. Despite being a small-school no-name, Westbrooks could make a legitimate impact on the Falcons in 2014.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, College Football, NFL and the NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.