Sunday marks 49 days until the Falcons kick off the 2019 season in Minnesota against the Vikings. To mark the day, we’re going to profile the latest Falcons player to be issued No. 49, undrafted free agent Tre’ Crawford.
Crawford met with five teams prior to the 2019 NFL Draft but went unselected through all seven rounds. Two days after the draft’s conclusion he was among 16 undrafted free agents signed by the Falcons.
Crawford played two seasons at Tyler Junior College in Tyler, Texas, then transferred to the University of Alabama-Birmingham. In 2018, his senior season, Crawford recorded 42 tackles with an impressive 12.5 for loss and eight sacks. He also recovered two fumbles.
When healthy, the Falcons are loaded with linebackers. Deion Jones just signed a four-year extension to remain the leader of the position group with De’Vondre Campbell and Foyesade Oluokun flanking him on the outside. Then there’s Bruce Carter, the oldest of the group at 31, Duke Riley, Jermaine Grace and two other UDFAs to compete with, Yurik Bethune from Alabama A&M and Del’Shawn Phillips out of Illinois.
The advantage that Crawford brings to the linebacker competition is speed to go along with his size. His eight sacks last season shows that he has an eye for the quarterback. Crawford is going to get plenty of opportunities to show that talent in the preseason, starting with what likely will be a large block of playing time in the Hall of Fame Game on August 1.
His speed will also give Crawford a chance to separate himself from the rest of the linebacker competition on kickoff and punt coverage teams. That’s where the real roster competition between Crawford, Bethune and Phillips will take place.
Every winning team needs undrafted free agents to add depth to a talented roster and hopefully develop into starters themselves. Fans should keep their eye on No. 49 this preseason to see how far Crawford’s raw talent will take him.