Another year, another Atlanta Falcons NFL draft in the rearview mirror. The Falcons took nine solid rookies this past weekend and while they, once again, look incredible on paper, will they actually be?
According to Pro Football Network’s Matt Williamson, the Falcons should be ‘lethal’ on offense, but he’s ranking them No. 22 overall because their defense doesn’t look any better following the 2021 NFL draft.
“The Falcons offense should be lethal, especially with Kyle Pitts now on board. But are they any better on defense? It doesn’t seem as if they are. Expect high-scoring games this year for the Falcons,” Williamson wrote.
Here’s a look at all of the Falcons’ draft picks:
First-round pick: TE Kyle Pitts
Second-round pick: S Richie Grant
Third-round pick: OL Jalen Mayfield
Third-round pick: CB Darren Hall
Fourth-round pick: C Drew Dalman
Fifth-round pick: DT Ta’Quon Graham
Fifth-round pick: DE Adetokunbo Ogundeji
Fifth-round pick: CB Avery Williams
Sixth-round pick: WR Frank Darby
ALL the latest Falcons news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Falcons newsletter here!
Join Heavy on Falcons!
Falcons Boost Their Offense With Pitts
The Falcons went into this draft with a lot of faith in Matt Ryan and building around him. Arthur Smith made it very clear he would coach to Ryan’s strengths and adding another game-changing pass-catcher made his plan solid.
Atlanta could have added another QB at No. 4 overall and they might regret that down the stretch but we saw Ryan wasn’t the problem last season or even four years prior.
The Falcons might be 29-36 since blowing their infamous 28-3 Super Bowl to the Patriots, but Ryan’s numbers since then have proven that he’s still a huge part of the solution with a 66.4 percent passer rating, an average of 4,516 passing yards per year and 120 touchdowns.
So what do you do instead of drafting a guy to sit behind Ryan for up to two years? You give Ryan another weapon and Pitts is that guy who will come in and make an immediate impact alongside Calvin Ridley and Julio Jones.
On top of that, the Falcons addressed their biggest offensive needs in offensive lineman Jalen Mayfield and center Drew Dalman. Dalman can come in and compete with Matt Hennessey or Atlanta can move Hennessey to guard and put Dalman at center.
Follow the Heavy on Falcons Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors, and content!
Falcons Address Defensive Needs
Williamson might be putting the Falcons’ power ranking at No. 22 right now because he has yet to see what they do on the field.
But Atlanta taking UCF safety Richie Grant at No. 2 overall may make more of an impact than adding Pitts to an already talented offensive roster.
In fact, according to PFF, Grant, with 33 run stops over the last two seasons and a score of 90.0, was the highest-rated safety in run defense this past season. He also added 10 interceptions and seven forced fumbles during his college campaign which proves his versatility. Grant will likely start out in the free safety slot but he can play strong safety and has also played some cornerback which gives the Falcons a chance to use him in many ways. This pick was cherry on top as Atlanta traded back for Grant, so they were able to get top safety and add on an extra draft pick in 2022.
Then the Falcons drafted Darren Hall, who can also play both safety and corner. Hall will come in as a corner alongside AJ Tarrell, the Falcons No. 1 corner who they drafted last year. And you can’t forget to note that adding Ta’Quon Graham, who can play in a 3-4 base as a defensive end or as a pass-rushing defensive tackle, behind Grady Jarrett, is setting the Falcons up for a scary rotation.
With Atlanta adding expected game-changers on both offense and defense, the Falcons’ roster looks a lot better than No. 22 heading into week 1.