The Falcons have undergone a makeover in recent seasons with new players manning several positions as the regime gets their ‘guys’ into the fold, most notably at the linebacker position. Foye Oluokun signed a three-year, $45 million deal with the Jaguars in free agency, while Deion Jones’ future remains unclear after being placed on the IR.
The influx of linebackers the front office brought in this offseason has completely shifted the landscape of the position. The Falcons added Rashaan Evans and Nick Kwiatkoski through free agency and Troy Andersen with the No. 58 overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft, joining Mykal Walker, who assumed the signal calling duties as a first-year starter.
Despite never being a full-time starter, Walker is showcasing the ability to be in that full-time role, which position coach Frank Bush reiterated.
“Mykal has had a really good spring. He came back in tremendous shape. There’s a certain level of maturity that has shown up in the building this year. He physically looks the part, and he’s embracing the role of trying to be the guy who can be on the field all the time. He has done a great job and has had a really good spring. We have high expectations for him and, so far, he has lived up to them.”
Walker is coming into his own and has made plays in every facet of the game through the Falcons’ first two games — 13 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, and an interception in 123 defensive snaps, per Pro Football Reference. Those are impact plays from a guy who hasn’t been on the field much thus far in his career, but nobody on the Falcons is surprised.
“We had a lot of faith in him, the way he developed last year and the games that he had to play in there, especially stack linebacker behind the ball,” head coach Arthur Smith said. “Now, he has the green dot, he’s continued to develop. I like his football IQ and he’s making plays; he made a hell of a play [against the Rams] on the interception.”
It’s becoming apparent the Falcons have a great piece of the future in Mykal Walker, and his confidence will only grow as his experience does. But honestly, he’s not short in that area of his game; nobody believes in Mykal Walker like Mykal Walker.
“I’ve always believed that I could do this,” Walker said. “Now people are starting to realize it, but it’s nothing that happened overnight. It’s about what I’ve been doing and the work I’ve put in preparing to be the guy. This year, I’ve gotten that opportunity to be on the field.”
Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire