FLOWERY BRANCH – Vic Beasley is primed for his move to strongside linebacker for the Falcons after playing defensive end last season as a rookie.
The Falcons played Brooks Reed and O’Brien Schofield at the strongside linebacker position last season. Reed was injured for most of the season and Schofield, was solid, but not spectacular. He hasn’t been re-signed by the team.
“It’s off to a great start,” said Beasley, who was the eighth overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft. “I just know that it’s a new position. I played a little bit of linebacker in college, but it’s different in the league. There are more responsibilities, but I’m off to a great start with it.”
Beasley started all 16 games last season and broke the team record for most sacks by a rookie in a season (4.0) since 1982, according to NFL True Media. Beasley, who struggled at times against the run, had 27 tackles (20 solo), one interception, two forced fumbles, and two passes defensed.
In the upset of the Panthers in the 15th game of the season, Beasley recorded his second career strip-sack to close out the game.
The plan is to use Beasley as more of a hybrid. He will rush the passer from defensive end in the nickel defense. The team is evaluating him at strongside linebacker during the offseason program and upcoming OTAs. He may blitz or strong in coverage in pass situations.
“I’ve been working with a number of coaches so far this year,” Beasley said. “Coach (Richard) Smith, (linebackers) coach (Jeff) Ulbrich since I’ve been playing (strongside) now, and (defensive line) coach (Bryan) Cox. They have been helping me a whole lot and just having all of their different opinion and strategies is helping me a lot.”
Beasley is up to 240 pounds and wants to play the season at 245 pounds. He believes he can make the transition to linebacker and cover tight ends in pass coverage.
“I think I’ll do great,” Beasley said. “I have great versatility and athletic ability that God’s blessed me with. I also played it a little bit in college so that adds and should help.”