by Gary VanDyke | Falcons Correspondent | Wed, Nov 7th 9:32am EST
According to multiple resources, the sixth-round rookie Foyesade Oluokun has firmly positioned himself as a viable linebacker in the NFL for Atlanta. One resource reportedly is by Garret Mehal of Pro Football Focus with the statement that only four linebackers in the NFL have graded higher than Oluokun since Week 7. Additionally, he has also outproduced his fellow linebackers Duke Riley, Bruce Carter, and De'Vondre Campbell in overall production as well as his growing snap count percentage. There is no doubt that Oluokun has made a positive statement that he deserves to be on the field more going forward. (thefalconswire.usatoday.com)
As positive as those multiple resources reports are there are certainly still questions at this point if Oluokun will have a meaningful role if Deion Jones (foot) does indeed return for Week 11. One thing that will likely happen will be that Bruce Carter ends up having the biggest reduced role as he mainly has been used in goal-line situations. And that is something that Deion Jones dominates. Campbell's role will unlikely change as the otto (strongside linebacker) simply because he is built for that position over the other linebackers. That will likely narrow it down to the weakside linebacker position being manned by either Oluokun or Riley. And even though the report mentioned Oluokun being where he is among the PFF rankings in the last few weeks, it fails to mention a couple of things. One would be that Atlanta had a bye-week in Week 8 leaving this report based off Week 7 and Week 9, The other and the more important fact is that there were no snap count criteria mentioned in the second-hand report about the PFF grading. While Oluokun has garnered a larger share of snap counts over Riley those two weeks, according to the PFF Twitter account Riley has been one of the linebackers who was graded higher than Oluokun. It is a "catch 22" leaving a cloud over what exactly will happen if Jones returns. One general positive in this is the fact that it was Riley's reduced role and being used only in certain situations that helped his play on the field improve. And in reading between the lines that in overall run support and coverage it favors Oluokun. This next contest versus the Cleveland Browns will be crucial for both players as well as their IDP owners going forward.