If a team trades up to select you in the NFL Draft, it’s generally a good sign they like you. Whether the trade comes in the first round or the fifth round, a move up suggests interest. For former Syracuse middle linebacker Marquis Spruill, that was the case when the Falcons traded two draft picks to move back into the fifth round to take him. Spruill was the second of four linebackers the Falcons took in last weekend’s draft.
“We added a guy that we were kind of honing in on him,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff said Saturday night. “We knew there were some teams involved that were interested in him. There was a run on a lot of those ‘backers that were of his stature and his caliber, as far as fast guys that can cover a lot of ground. Again, back to the versatility thing, we just felt like instead of sitting on our hands once again, let’s deal a seventh rounder for a guy that we wanted. We went after him, and we think he’s going to be a nice addition.”
Spruill was a four-year starter at Syracuse in the middle and walks away from the program as one of the top ‘backers in school history. Last season, he paced the Orange with 66 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. He was also a standout special teams player and that played a role in Dimitroff’s decision.
“He was marked as one of our most highly rated special teamers out there from the college ranks by our staff, by our special team staff with (special teams coordinator) Keith Armstrong and such,” Dimitroff said. “We liked that addition, as well.”
Unlike some, Spruill won’t face a position or role change when he joins the Falcons. Dimitroff said he will remain at inside linebacker, but depending on the 3-4, 4-3 alignments, he’ll be asked to line up and play different roles when he’s on the field.
“With the different looks he’ll line up anywhere from head up on the center to lineup on an offensive tackle,” Dimitroff said. “It will be dependent on how were displacing our front in front of them. He will be a guy that will line up on the inside — won’t be an edge player. He will be a guy that has good speed and has good ability to rush the passer. I think if you saw some of the highlights that they put up on one of the shows today that you can see that he is a guy that can get up the field as well. That gives you a lot of flexibility in terms of what you want to do with your linebackers.”