Atlanta Falcons: Kemal Ishmael could be valuable hybrid
Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn wants his defense to thrive from versatility, and safety Kemal Ishmael offers plenty of that. Quinn has used him in a number of ways.
Many times throughout the 2015 season, Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn would feature Kemal Ishmael in as a dime linebacker in passing situations.
Against teams like the Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints, Ishmael was given the freedom to roam the weak-side of the opposing offense and able to cover limited amount of ground.
When the Falcons defended spread offenses, many of the times there would be three linemen (Vic Beasley, Jonathan Babineaux, and Adrian Clayborn), along with two linebackers (Paul Worrilow and Ishmael), and six defensive backs (Desmond Trufant, Robert Alford, Jalen Collins, Ricardo Allen, William Moore, and Phillip Adams).
In these sets, Ishmael was able to not only cover slot receivers, running backs, and tight ends but also he was out in the position to rush the passer and become an aggressor while guarding screen passes.
READ MORE: Projected Falcons depth chart ahead of preseason
At only 6-foot, 211 pounds, Ishmael may not have prototypical size for the linebacker spot but that shouldn’t be his problem. If he can improve his coverage ability from the line of scrimmage to mid-level of the defense then Ishmael may find himself in a profitable position for the future.
One of the most neglected areas which the team hasn’t improved in years has been finding versatile defenders who were able to help cover tight ends and be able to still be physical in the run game.
Next: Atlanta Falcons: Five greatest running backs of all-time
The 2016 season may not be one with high expectations for the Falcons, but there are players like Kemal Ishmael who should be worth watching.