When the Atlanta Falcons took former LSU linebacker Duke Riley in the third round of this year’s NFL Draft, they took a player who has been doubted every step of the way.
Riley, listed at 6-foot-1, 230 pounds, is considered undersized to play outside linebacker in the NFL or even at LSU. Riley paid his dues for three years, playing mostly on special teams and as a reserve linebacker until it was his time to shine.
“I was always an undersized guy,” Riley said in a hype video released on the Falcons’ Twitter page Tuesday afternoon. “It never bothered me. Being undersized, I have tools that some bigger guys don’t have.”
Made it anyway.
— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) May 23, 2017
When he did break out, his impact was immediate. He collected a team-high 93 tackles and nine tackles for loss to go with 1.5 sacks. Most importantly, Riley was a leader on a defense that yielded just 16 touchdowns all season, an FBS-low for 2016.
“Im a guy who’s always around the ball, a guy with a motor that … I’m just always moving, being loud and being vocal,” Riley continued in the video.
The LSU product is projected to at least make the two-deep this season as the Falcons look to defend their NFC Crown in 2017.