Ranking the Falcons 2014: No. 18 Paul WorrilowI’m counting down the top 40 players on the Atlanta Falcons, and let’s continue with 18th-ranked player: linebacker Paul Worrilow.
To read the methodology I devised to rank the Falcons players, click here.
Total Score: 60/100
Last year’s rank: N/A
Player Grade: 56/100
Teams he is starter: 18 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 0 out of 32
Teams he is role player: 31 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +4
Positional Bonus: +3
Worrilow certainly qualifies as the player that made the biggest leap in this year’s rankings considering his humble origins as an undrafted free agent last year. Expected to be a camp body last summer, Worrilow is now going to be counted upon to be a key difference-maker in the Falcons defense.
That has been largely brought on by the recent season-ending injury to fellow linebacker Sean Weatherspoon. But even before Weatherspoon went down, Worrilow was expected to be a big part of the team’s defensive resurgence in 2014.
Worrilow impressed last summer and coupled with the shoddy play of Akeem Dent, made a swift and prompt move into the starting lineup at middle linebacker.
One of the reasons why Worrilow was so impressive as a rookie was his natural feel for the game and instincts. He certainly showed a better knack for diagnosing plays and being in proper position than Dent, who had more than two years worth of NFL experience on him.
But there were still several times last season where Worrilow looked and played like a rookie. Yet, the Falcons remain optimistic that many of those issues can be ironed out.
Not blessed with great size and strength, Worrilow has bulked up this offseason to improve his tackling.
Another area where he’ll need to improve is in coverage. Last season, he wasn’t asked to play a ton of man coverage and there will be more opportunities this year. And it’s a question of whether Worrilow or opposing teams will take advantage of those increased opportunities.
Worrilow has the potential to grow into one of the better inside linebackers in the league, and should be helped by the beef the Falcons have provided in front of him that should better shield him from blockers and take advantage of those instincts to make plays.
As a second-year player, Worrilow is going to be asked to be the stabilizing force for the middle of the Falcons defense. He’s certainly capable of being that player, but it’s now going to have to be displayed on the field. Had Weatherspoon been aligned beside him, it would have made Worrilow’s job easier. But in the face of adversity, some plays will rise while others will fall. In the case of Worrilow, he now has to be the former.