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“This is a guy we targeted and all the contemplation went out the window when we had this guy in our sites,” General Manager Thomas Dimitroff said Thursday evening, moments after the selection.
A tackling machine at Missouri, Weatherspoon left school with more than 400 stops. The Associated Press named him a second-team All-American last season. He posted 41 career starts, 415 tackles, 12.5 sacks and 43.5 tackles for loss on his collegiate resume.
He was also on the mock draft radar for the Falcons for weeks and Weatherspoon himself had a hunch this would be the team to draft him.
“It’s an honor. It’s a blessing from God,” he said. “When I got the call I was smiling from ear to ear because I knew it was about to go down.”
The Jasper, Texas native is third in Missouri history in career tackles and 10th on the Big 12’s all-time charts.
“We’re very excited for the opportunity to take an outside linebacker who is going to ramp up our speed, our enthusiasm (and) our athleticism,” Dimitroff said. “In our minds he’s a guy that’s going to be a four-down player for us.”
Head Coach Mike Smith — a defensive coordinator before taking over in Atlanta in 2008 — likes Weatherspoon’s versatility.
“He’s an urgent, passionate football player that can play both (outside) linebacker spots in our scheme,” Smith said. “Our outside linebackers are interchangeable… He will be competing for an outside linebacker position.”
Dimitroff said the team also spoke with William Moore — a 2009 second-round draft pick that played at Missouri — about Weatherspoon, who will become a teammate again.
“You always seek insight from teammates,” he said. “It’s not the end-all, obviously, but it’s important to discuss interaction… William was very positive and I know through our interviews with Sean he was positive about having the opportunity to work side-by-side with William.”
Weatherspoon, who has remained active and conversational on his Twitter feed during the pre-draft process, said he’s looking forward to talking with Moore and using him as a resource in learning the team’s defense.
At the close of the first round the Falcons did not have a second-round selection, but Dimitroff said the team would consider opportunities to get into that round, which starts at 6 p.m. Friday.
MORE ON WEATHERSPOON:
- BIO: Weatherspoon’s bio on AF.com
- PHOTOS: Images of new Falcon Sean Weatherspoon
- VIDEO: NFL Network highlights of Weatherspoon
- YOUTUBE: Universal Draft Presents
- YOUTUBE: Sean Weatherspoon “Right Now”
- YOUTUBE: Post-Practice Interview
- YOUTUBE: A Day in the Life — Sean Weatherspoon
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