When the Atlanta Falcons drafted Kemal Ishmael, the reaction was very similar to what it would have been if they had drafted me. "What?" "Who is that guy?" and "Typical Falcons taking a no-name" were some of the fan responses that were out there on Twitter after this pick.
So the real question is why take a guy who is completely unknown by even some of the more well versed draft analysts?
Because he has potential not just on special teams, but as a reserve at his position. It also makes sense to look at the contract situations. The Falcons had four safeties under contract going into the draft—starters William Moore and Thomas DeCoud and reserves Charles Mitchell and Shann Schillinger.
The thing here is that Schillinger is only under contract for one more season and likely isn't going to earn another one after this year. So knowing this, it shouldn't have been shocking at all for the Falcons to take a safety or even two in this year's draft.
On the Field
Kemal Ishmael is a unique player who compares well to current Falcon Charles Mitchell. He can play either strong or free safety and either in the box or in center field. This makes him a very useful player in the Mike Nolan scheme because Nolan likes pairing both of the Falcons safeties as roaming, attacking players.
Ishmael is one of the most solid tacklers at the safety position out there and might even be able to teach veteran Thomas DeCoud a few things about how to wrap up. He's good in run coverage and good in zones and is used to playing in a defense with deep coverage responsibilities despite dropping into the box every now and again.
His best abilities may end up being on special teams where he can use his intelligence and speed. He flies all over the field as a safety and will be even more active for the Falcons' special teams unit. He may be a late pick, but he could easily end up earning one of the final spots on the 53-man roster when all is said and done.
Off the Field
When verifying the Comrade Filter credentials of a new Falcon, the first thing to look for when players are brought into the Falcons is whether they have been arrested or suspended. Kemal Ishmael has never had either thing happen and is one of the hardest working members of the Central Florida team. When it comes to his leadership on and off the field, Ishmael is a guy who leads both by example and vocally.
He was a captain for the Knights and is known for his leadership in the locker room at Central Florida. At this point, it's easy to see that the Falcons have one of the best fits for their team here in Kemal Ishmael. Honestly, he may be a better fit for safety than the man drafted directly after him.
All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus' Premium Stats (subscription required), ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All contract information is courtesy of Spotrac and Rotoworld. All recruiting rankings come from 247Sports.com.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.
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