Vic Beasley preparing for move to SAM linebacker

The Atlanta Falcons are transitioning Vic Beasley from his role as a LEO pass rusher last season to SAM (strongside) linebacker.

"It's off to a great start," Beasley said of the change, via the team's official website. "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's more responsibility. But I'm off to a great start with it. ... I'm pretty sure in the game plan they'll use me in rushing and obviously dropping back, going back and forth."

Beasley will essentially fill the role that Bruce Irvin thrived in when Falcons coach Dan Quinn coordinated the Seattle Seahawks' defense. Beasley struggled as a rookie against the run. In the SAM role, the athletic defender will be in space to make plays, rather than immediately getting latched onto by an offensive lineman.

Interestingly enough, before Beasley was selected No. 8 overall in 2015, NFL Media draft analyst Lance Zierlein compared Beasley favorably to Irvin. (Too bad the Falcons don't have clones of Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril as well.)

While Beasley is capable in coverage, the Falcons dropping their best pass rusher even 75-100 times is a mistake -- before leaving Seattle, Irvin complained he wasn't allowed to rush the passer enough in that role. Given that Beasley is their most talented pass rusher, Atlanta needs the second-year player getting after the quarterback most downs.

Moving Beasley to linebacker certainly upgrades a putrid LB unit, however, questions are created at defensive end. Among changes to fill the gap, Ra'Shede Hageman is expected to move over on the defensive line.

The position switches, along with adding Derrick Shelby should make the Falcons' defense much more stout against the run. Regardless of Beasley's position, we still have significant concerns about Atlanta's ability to consistently disrupt the passer.