The Atlanta Falcons are looking to bring in some defensive ends from this year's draft to improve their horrible pass rush. Dee Ford of Auburn University is just one of the defensive ends they have taken a look at this offseason.
According to Chase Goodbread of NFL Network, the Falcons have shown interest in Ford by interviewing him at the Senior Bowl. Atlanta could use him in multiple spots within Mike Nolan's defense and could truly take advantage of his speed rushing abilities.
6'2", 242 pounds
2013: 12 Games Played, 29 Tackles, 14.5 Tackles for Loss, 10.5 Sacks, 17 QB Hurries, 2 Fumbles Forced, 1 Pass Deflection
2012: 11 Games Played, 34 Tackles, 6.5 Tackles for Loss, 6.0 Sacks, 8 QB Hurries, 1 Fumble Forced, 1 Pass Deflection
2011: 3 Games Played, 7 Tackles, 2.0 Tackles for Loss, 1.0 Sacks, 4 QB Hurries before getting redshirted due to a back injury
2010: 13 Games Played, 11 Tackles, 2.0 Tackles for Loss, 2.0 Sacks, 4 QB Hurries
2009: 13 Games Played, 12 Tackles, 2.5 Tackles for Loss, 1.0 Sack, 7 QB Hurries, 1 Interception
Outside of his leadership, two things really stand out for Dee Ford—his athleticism and his pass-rushing ability. New defensive line coach Bryan Cox will love the fact that Ford can rush from a multitude of spots and be effective in all of them. He understands speed rush, bull rush, dip and rip moves.
But wait! There's more! Ford's athleticism could allow him to convert into more of a linebacker than a pure defensive end. He'd be able to test his luck covering tight ends and have more of a roaming role in the running game than he played at Auburn.
Outside of pass-rushing and athleticism, there isn't much to love about Ford's current skill set. Against the run, he has trouble with fighting off blockers and with over-pursuing ball-carriers. Cox would have a lot to fix in regards to Ford's run defense when he's not in the 9-technique.
On top of that, he doesn't have much experience in coverage. Atlanta loves to drop back their defensive ends into mid-level zones at times. However, Ford's athleticism would tempt them to drop him deep like they have with Kroy Biermann at times. Nonetheless, he needs to learn coverage from the point of basically nothing.
How does he fit the Comrade Filter?
Dee Ford was a captain for the Auburn Tigers. Not only that, he did it with a style that is very similar of the Falcons' own Sean Weatherspoon—a high-energy leader who understands football is about having fun. Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson described Ford to Ryan Black of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer:
"He’s got a really unique way,” said Auburn’s defensive coordinator, who noted he’s coached “all kinds” of different players and personality types in his 38 years of coaching. “I think the players really respect him. … I know these players have great confidence in him, and he’s a good influence not only on the practice field, but on the game field and off the field.”
Atlanta bringing in yet another captain would only be wise. Bringing in a captain who led one of the greatest turnarounds in college football history would be brilliant. The Falcons would definitely keep Ford on the board, as his attitude is exactly what the Comrade filter looks for.
Ford is a bit of a one-trick pony. Fortunately, he's tremendous at that one trick. Atlanta could refine his other talents and possibly use him the way they had intended to use Biermann in 2013. His higher level of athleticism could give them a great chess piece in a defense that likes to maximize those pieces.
His fire on and off the field would also be a great impact to the locker room. As a linebacker to complement Weatherspoon and Paul Worrilow or as a defensive end to focus on pass-rushing across from Jonathan Massaquoi and Malliciah Goodman, Ford could be a valuable long-term asset.
How he would fit into the Falcons' plans
For the Falcons to secure Ford's services, Atlanta will likely have to trade up in the second round from where it currently sits. Jacksonville played Ford over Georgia Tech's Jeremiah Attaochu in their LEO role at the Senior Bowl and could be the team that would take him ahead of the Falcons.
If he does fall to Atlanta's pick in the second round, it could take him and put him at right defensive end and strong-side linebacker depending on the set played. He'd be a good fit for Nolan's defense due to his versatility and could end up being a 10-sack guy as a pass rush specialist his rookie season.
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.