This one got a little more press than most 4th round picks, but it had more to do with Shembo’s past at Notre Dame, where he was accused of sexual assault by a student who eventually committed suicide. Granted, there’s nothing conclusive there, so it’s wrong to call Shembo this or that when it comes to his guilt, but suffice to say there’s a cloud around him that you’d rather not have. The Falcons likely did their due diligence and concluded he was worth the risk, if there was one.
Shembo played some 4-3 end in Notre Dame’s front last year, where he showed some burst off the snap, but was too easily contained by offensive tackles on rushing plays. As a pass rusher, he was a bit more disruptive (18 TFL/sacks as a Junior, 11 as a senior). In some of the tape I watched, I found that he was oddly more explosive when stunting inside. On one play he went inside and sniffed out a screen for a TFL. On another, starting at RE, he blows up the middle and makes a sack the QB sees coming from a mile away yet is powerless to stop:
Productivity aside, the 6-1 253 lb Shembo is unlikely to play with his hand in the dirt at the pro level. He has some experience as a 4-3 OLB, where he could drop into coverage without being a liability (but without really being an asset).
Shembo came out of HS as an inside linebacker, and I think that’s where his future is. There’s talk of using him as an edge rusher, but considering he did some of his best work in the middle, I’m not sure he’d be best served on the edge. He’s the type of linebacker who probably doesn’t need to be in open space pursuit as much as he should be attacking gaps.
Given Shembo’s propensity for pursuing ballcarriers in a straightline fashion, I imagine he’ll see plenty of work on Atlanta’s special teams unit in the near future.
Bottom Line: Shembo is a talented football player who can passably play any position along the front seven (though we should all be shocked if he sees interior DL time in the pros), but his future is almost certainly as a linebacker of some sort. At worst, I think he winds up a rotational linebacker, with upside to be a starting 3-4 ILB.
Projected 2014 role: Backup ROLB/ILB
Projected long term role: Low-end starting ILB
What it means for the 2014 Falcons: Depth and versatility in the front seven, as well as an infusion of talent into the special teams.