Albert Breer of NFL.com reports that Florida pass-rusher Dante Fowler will meet with the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday for a private workout. Fowler is considered one of the premier edge-rushers in this year’s draft class and may be a target of the Falcons with their top selection: the eighth overall pick.
Fowler has been a player that has been frequently mocked to the Falcons over the past several months, although the frequency in which that has occurred has diminished more recently given the fact that most mocks now project him to be off the board by the eighth pick.
Fowler is a player that is very familiar to new Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, who coached him at the University of Florida in 2012. That year, Fowler was a true freshman when Quinn was in his second year as the team’s defensive coordinator. Quinn left Florida to rejoin the Seattle Seahawks as their defensive coordinator in 2013. In his lone season with Quinn, Fowler recorded 30 tackles, eight tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks predominantly as a reserve. He was promoted to the starting lineup as a sophomore, earning second team All-SEC honors with 50 tackles, 10.5 for loss, 3.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. Fowler had his best season this past year as a junior with 60 tackles, 15 for loss, 8.5 sacks and two forced fumbles, earning All-SEC honorable mention honors.
Both under Quinn and subsequent coordinators, Fowler was used in a variety of ways, playing both with his hand on and off the ground as a defensive end and linebacker. He would mostly likely project to play defensive end for the Falcons. Fowler measured in at 6’3″ 261 pounds at the Scouting Combine in February, after being listed as a 277-pound end during his freshman year at Florida. He clocked a 4.60-second 40-yard dash, lifted 225 pounds 19 times on the bench press, had a 32.5-inch vertical and a 7.40-second three-cone drill.
Fowler was recently quoted as saying he would love for the Falcons to take him with their first-round pick:
“I would love for [Quinn] to [draft me]. I know some of his plays, so going in, I feel like I wouldn’t get off to a slow start. He knows me, and he knows how to use me, and what he can do with me, so if I were to go there, I would feel totally comfortable. At the combine, I met with him and the [Falcons] owner and the GM, and they were great guys. We didn’t talk about any football; we didn’t get on the board and draw up plays, none of that. They were trying to get to know me, and my family, and where I come from. It was only 15 minutes, but we talked the whole 15 minutes.”
In that same interview, Fowler also noted the influence that Quinn has had on his career:
“[Quinn] taught me so much in one year, and it’s kind of scary, because I always ask myself, ‘What if he would have stayed the rest of my career? What would have happened?’ But he still had some dreams he wanted to accomplish, which was being an NFL coach, and hats off to him. He’s doing a lot of great things, with what he did in Seattle, and what he’s doing now in Atlanta. He deserves everything that he’s getting, and more. He was my position coach my freshman year, and he was my high school recruiter, too. He and coach Muschamp were big reasons why I flipped from Florida State and went to UF. He was like a father figure for me, and he was there from the first day I met him until today. When I was growing into a mature young man, he was there. When you listen to coaches, sometimes it goes in one ear and right out the other, but when he talks, you listen. Whenever I had a question, he had an answer. You have your own work ethic, but he taught me how to dig in, and dig in a little bit more, because you always have a little bit more in you. And he taught me how to play my position, the Buck position. It’s different; it’s not like any other position. You have your cornerbacks, your linebackers, your defensive line, but your Buck, the Jack linebacker, is really the quarterback of the defense. That’s your athlete on the team, and he showed me how to play and how to move and feel good playing it. It baffles me sometimes, because I feel like a lot of the things I’ve done throughout my whole career, was the stuff he taught me in that one year.”