Continuing the countdown of the top 40 players on the Atlanta Falcons, we move on to outside linebacker/defensive end O’Brien Schofield.
To read about the methodology in how these rankings came about, you can click here.
Total Score: 41/100
Last year’s rank: N/A
Player Grade: 48/100
Teams he is starter: 1 out of 32
Teams he is best position player: 0 out of 32
Teams he is role player: 21 out of 32
Peak-Year Bonus: +2
Positional Bonus: +4
Schofield is a player that has an enormous opportunity to make this low ranking look foolish if he can turn in a strong 2015 campaign. Expectations are that Schofield not only will provide depth at outside linebacker behind Brooks Reed on the strong side, but also help out the Falcons in their sub-packages as a defensive end.
Schofield is also an accomplished special-teams performer, being the co-leader for the Arizona Cardinals in special teams tackles in 2011. The Falcons likely will expect at a minimum, Schofield to impact there. But he’ll also be counted on to produce on defense as a pass-rusher, given his experience and knowledge of Dan Quinn’s defensive scheme.
The Falcons may hope that other edge-rushers like Vic Beasley, Adrian Clayborn and Malliciah Goodman emerge, but if not, then Schofield’s experience makes him an excellent fallback option at the very least. However, Schofield is out to prove that he’s not merely an insurance policy and that he can be an impact edge-rusher.
Schofield was a highly rated MF: prospect at Wisconsin, but then tore his ACL at the 2010 Senior Bowl, causing his draft stock to fall. He was eventually scooped up by the Cardinals in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. He worked his way up from reserve and special teams contributor to a starter at outside linebacker by his third year in 2012. He was second on the Cardinals with four sacks through nine starts before an ankle injury landed him on injured reserve.
At least according to the Cardinals’ new coaching staff under Bruce Arians, Schofield became expendable when the team signed former Falcon John Abraham in the summer of 2013, resulting in the former’s release. Schofield landed with Quinn in Seattle and has made the most of his opportunities playing both outside linebacker and LEO defensive end for the Seahawks the past two years.
Having a chip on his shoulder, Schofield is out to prove that the player he was beginning to emerge as in 2012 is still around.