For all the excellent value the Falcons got with the Freeman and Allen picks, they balanced it out with this one. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with the pick, and it’s really hard to consider any 5th round (or later) a truly wasted one, if the team likes the player. And the Falcons clearly do. That said, many scouting services considered Marquis Spruill a longshot to get drafted. Taking him in the 5th is quite the leap of faith.
6-1, 231 lbs isn’t exactly big for a LB, but he ran a 4.53 40 at his pro day, so he makes up for the lack of bulk with speed to burn. He had 20 TFL/sacks this year, earning him 3rd team All-ACC honors, so the production is there. Spruill gets caught up on blocks and runs himself out of position a lot, so the tape is frustrating to watch. He whiffs on more tackles than he should. Spruill is at his best when he can just straight-line and use that burst of speed to track down targets in open space. He doesn’t change direction fluidly, so even in open space, he’s still a wild card, but there’s raw talent there. I have my doubts, but the Falcons clearly see something.
Bottom Line: It certainly feels like a reach, but Spruill is another ILB with talent that the Falcons can throw against the wall in hopes of something sticking.
Likely 2014 role: Practice squad, 3rd string LB
Likely long term role: Backup LB
What it means for the 2014 Falcons: Probably very little.