The Atlanta Falcons' draft is over, and we've had a little time to digest the potential impact of that class. That means it's time to dole out some delicious, fresh draft grades from our motley collection of writers, editors and hot take artists.
We have a couple more writers who may be delivering their grades later, so check back during the day as I add them.
Here's what's fun about this draft class: everyone already knows these players are good.
They all made differences on national TV. There's no secret project pick of some mystery from Division VI Hipster State. There's no pro day stud whose leg algorithms somehow rule out the fact that he never did much during a game.
I watched Vic Beasley and Grady Jarrett cough up the bones of the Oklahoma Sooners. Justin Hardy set an all-time FBS record while starring for one of the country's most legit mid-majors. There is no sensible argument against the claim that Tevin Coleman should've been a Heisman finalist, IMO.
Jalen Collins is a little bit of an unknown, or about as unknown as "monstrously athletic LSU defensive back" can be. And the seventh-rounders aren't big names, but they're still interesting prospects.
There are many reasons to draft football players. The best one, according to my idiot amateur brain, is to pick the players who've been playing good football. That is the standard this draft class meets. If it fails, it will not be because these players were underqualified going in.
I love this draft. This may be the first year under Thomas Dimitroff where we do not have to preach patience while trying to figure out what the front office was thinking. It is Monday after the draft and no one is saying, "Sure, I guess that pick could make sense." The Atlanta Falcons had a bit of luck in getting great value at positions of need, specifically Vic Beasley, RB Tevin Coleman, and DT Grady Jarrett.
The team checked off a number of needs, and finally addressed a number of positions that have been forgotten for years, such as DE, WR, and RB. There are still a few holes on the roster, specifically at LG, but it would be naive to think that every issue with a team could be fixed in one offseason. What we saw this weekend was a front office on the same page as the coaching staff, and the preliminary indications are the Falcons came away with one of the best draft classes in the entire league.
This was a potentially transformative class. If everything breaks right, Vic Beasley, Jalen Collins and Grady Jarrett will be huge assets for a rebuilding defense, while Tevin Coleman and Justin Hardy are weapons for an offense in need of new ones. We're a long ways away from finding out whether this class is as successful as it could be, but right now, it looks like a great mix of needs-based drafting and huge potential. I'm a happy Falcons fan.
The only knock is that this team still has potentially major holes at left guard and free safety that might have been addressed starting in the fourth round, and those holes remain today. It may be a minor quibble, given what the teams got in rounds four and five, but it's enough of a concern that I have to knock a little off.
It was a weird feeling to actually like all of the Falcons' moves during this draft. They addressed a glaring need by selecting Vic Beasley with the eighth overall pick, and did so without having to move up, which was a pleasant surprise. Throughout the rest of the draft, I felt like they added tremendous talent and potential and addressed needs with great value.
I also got the overwhelming sense that Dan Quinn had significant influence on these choices, which is encouraging in that it suggests Quinn is getting the players with whom he believes he can build a winning team.
The minus is for the lack of an inside linebacker and the lack of a starting-quality offensive guard, but as long as the picks they did make pan out and the coaching staff is able to work effectively with the guys they already have on the roster at those positions, these issues certainly won't outweigh the overall success of this draft.
I'm torn between being really excited about this draft class or hesitant to jump on board with any of the players not from Clemson University. From a pure value perspective, the draft is an A+. Beasley is Beasley, Collins is a fringe first round talent, Coleman might be the best back not named Gurley in the draft, and Grady Jarrett's surprise departure from the top few rounds of the draft does nothing but reinforce the notion that we had very specific players in mind and had them all conveniently fall into our laps. We might even consider ourselves lucky, something Falcons fans probably haven't felt since 2008.
The amount of talent we pulled in from the draft forces this grade up to a low A. I think we could have done better with our 2nd and 3rd round picks, but that doesn't mean I think they're necessarily bad picks or will turn out to be subpar players. The talent brought in with our first five picks (nice trade, TD!) could shape a new foundation for the team that builds on a great QB in his prime while also plugging holes on a leaky defense.
It's always strange to grade a team's draft class before any of the players take the field, but for what these draftees could potentially be and are expected to do in the league, Atlanta hit several home runs.
They filled a major hole with one of the best pass rushers in the draft in Vic Beasley. Big, long cornerback Jalen Collins, considered by some to be a first-round talent, is another great fit for Dan Quinn's scheme. Speedster running back Tevin Coleman has a penchant for ripping off long runs, and the sure-handed Justin Hardy should be a terror as an inside receiver. And Grady Jarrett, a second-round talent defensive tackle who the Falcons traded up to select at the top of the fifth round, could end up being the best pick of the class.
Realistically, each of the first five picks have a chance to contribute in some fashion this season. When is the last time Falcons fans felt this good about a draft class?
Let's get this out of the way first: there are still glaring holes on the Falcons roster that are a concern for the 2015 season. There's no "great fit" for left guard. The options of Godfrey or Southward at free safety are not inspiring. Worrilow is likely still our starting MLB. But we all knew going in that this roster rebuild was going to take more than one off-season. So keeping that in mind, I don't know how you can grade this draft as anything other than great.
Getting Beasley without having to trade-up was a good first sign. He's probably the best pass rusher in this class, and we snagged him. While the Collins pick in the second initially surprised and confused some, there's no denying that the LSU corner has amazing measurables and a high ceiling. Drafting him in the second seemed like a good value. While Coleman isn't a bruiser, his lightning fast speed makes him a dangerous weapon - and one we got in the third. Replacing Harry Douglas with Hardy seems like an upgrade to me, especially since Hardy appears to be a very strong route runner with great hands - things HD was not known for. As a fourth rounder, he was a potential steal. For my money though, getting Grady Jarrett in the fifth round could be the coup of the entire draft. He's been likened to something in-between Babineaux and Aaron Donald. He's known for being highly disruptive with fantastic hand usage and a high motor. Most analysts had him with a second round grade, and we got him in the fifth - wow.
While the real proof of this draft quality won't come for another couple of years, based on talent and draft evaluation alone, the Falcons had one of the strongest drafts in the NFL this year and easily one of their best since 2008. I cannot wait for the season to begin.
What would be your grade?