Falcons Met With Versatile Virginia RB: Report

Falcons running back todd gurley

Getty Todd Gurley II #21 of the Atlanta Falcons.

For quite some time, the Falcons haven’t had a solid run game, so that will be one of the several areas they will be addressing in this year’s draft and free agency.

In fact, the Falcons have already looked into a potential draft prospect in Virginia running back, Shane Simpson, according to Justin Melo of the NFL Draft network.  They were able to see him up close and personal back in January at the Gridiron Showcase.

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Simpson transferred to Virginia ahead of the 2020 season where he played in just 10 games for the Wahoos. Prior to that, he played five years at Towson and graduated with a degree in sports management. Despite missing some of the 2015, 2017, and 2019 with injuries, he recorded
5,088 total yards as a Tiger. This past season, Simpson reeled in two touchdowns for 278 yards on 54 carries.

Shane Simpson’s Scouting Report

Scouts believe Simpson is smart but lacks athleticism, however, his versatility makes up for it.

Here is the NFL Draft Network‘s scouting report on Simpson:

Simpson was not the starter at Virginia and may have even been third on the depth chart. In his final college season, he showed off his intelligence as a runner. Simpson wins by reading and playing off his blocks with nice burst. He also uses his quick feet to make sudden cuts at the right time to force missed tackles. At the contact point, he manufactures power with leverage, leg drive and contact balance. On passing downs, Simpson exhibits reliable hands and a willingness to be physical in pass protection. Moreover, he served as a kick returner in 2020, a testament to his ball skills and vision. All the same, the Towson and Virginia product lacks NFL-level athleticism. He is noticeably stiff, which hurts his ability to make defenders miss and run precise routes. Once in space, he has sufficient but unspectacular long speed. What’s more, his underwhelming functional strength makes him less effective at the tackle point and as a blocker. Similarly, his short arms prevent him from throwing meaningful stiff arms and give him a small catch radius. All in all, Simpson is a smart runner who may offer third-down and special-teams value, but he is a limited athlete whose overall projection is not favorable.

Simpson offers more than what your typical running back would which is why so many teams find him appealing. And with the right coaching under Arthur Smith, Simpson might be what Atlanta is looking for.

The Falcons Need to Address Their Running Back Needs

Last season, Atlanta finished 27th in the NFL with an average of 95 rush yards a game

Falcons running backs Todd Gurley and Brian Hill are both expected to hit free agency once the new league year rolls around in March. This leaves them with just Ito Smith and Qadree Ollison.

The Falcons acquired Todd Gurley last offseason, but he didn’t live up to his expectations and even lost his starting spot to Hill towards the end of the season. The Falcons’ only way of re-signing Gurley would be for a very cheap price, which he might agree to. And Hill wouldn’t be a bad option to re-sign, but he has some work to do.

Smith showed some signs of potential, but nothing reliable, and Ollison has struggled to even make the 53-man roster.

If it’s not Simpson in the end that the Falcons turn to in the upcoming 2021, it’s going to be someone.

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