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Last season when the Falcons drafted cornerbacks Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford and tight end Levine Toilolo they put a lot of stock in the fact that they came from “NFL families.”
Trufant, who was selected in the first-round last season, is the younger brother of NFL players Marcus Trufant and Isaiah Trufant. The Falcons reasoned that Trufant would not have as steep of a learning curve because he’d been getting taught by his bigger brothers for years.
Alford’s older brother, Fred Booker, played in the NFL after starring at LSU.
Toilolo had three uncles, Dan Saleaumua, Edwin Mulitalo and Joe Salave'a, who played in the NFL.
So, it made sense to make note of players with NFL heritages when combing through the 330 plus bios.
Here are some of the players with NFL lineage that my pique the interest of the Falcons.
George Atkinson III, RB, Notre Dame: Son of the former All-Pro Oakland Raiders defensive back George Atkinson Jr., who terrorized wide receivers from 1968 to 1977, in the good old days when you could knock receivers’ blocks off. Pappa Atkinson helped the Raiders win Super Bowl XI and is currently a broadcaster for the team. Notre Dame listed little George at 6-1 ½ and 220 pounds. He’s the 25th rated back in the draft and is projected to be drafted in the seventh round or be a college free agent by NFLDraftScout.com heading into the combine.
James Wilder Jr, RB, Florida State: Son of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Missouri running back James Wilder. He’s the 12th rated back and projected to be a fourth or fifth rounder by NFLDraftScout.com.
James Gayle, DE, Virginia Tech: His uncle, Shaun Gayle played for the Chicago Bears and Ohio State. Nephew James turned in a solid 2013 season. He played 711 plays and like most Hokies was not a stranger to the special teams units. He played 55 special teams plays. He had 34 quarterback hurries, 10.5 tackles for a loss and six sacks last season. He’s the 14th rated defensive end in the draft and projected to go in the fifth-round by NFLDraftScout.com.
Jackson Jeffcoat, DE, Texas: Son of former Dallas Cowboys (1983-94) and Buffalo Bills (1995-97) defensive lineman Jim Jeffcoat. He was a four-year player for the Longhorns and played in 40 games, making 33 starts. He was a consensus All-American and the Ted Hendricks Award winner. He had 27.5 sacks and 60 tackles for losses over his career.
Max Bullough, ILB, Michigan State: Son of Shane Bullough and grandson of the legendary Hank Bullough. All played for the Spartans. Hank Bullough played for the Green Bay Packers and was a longtime NFL coach. Max was suspended before the Rose Bowl this season and will have some explaining to do at the combine. He’s 6-3, 265 pounds. He is the 11th rated inside linebacker and projected to be drafted in the seventh-round by the NFLDraftScout.com.
Brock Vereen, FS, Minnesota: Is the brother of New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen. Both parents were athletes at UNLV. His father Henry played football and his mother Venita played tennis. He had a 4.4 grade point average in high school and will likely impress the Falcons with his high FBI (Football Intelligence).