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Breaking down the Falcons 53 man roster by draft round

Atlanta’s built its roster on the strength of its early round picks and undrafted free agents.

NFL: Atlanta Falcons at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

As the warmer weather comes and the time before training camp grinds on, taking a novel look at this team becomes more challenging and more necessary. Let’s try something new today.

Here’s a look at my current projected 53 man roster by draft round. This exercise is simply going to tell us how successful the Falcons have been at assembling their talent via the draft, as well as where their outside free agents have come from. Any player the team drafted or originally acquired are bolded.

1st Round

QB Matt Ryan

WR Julio Jones

C Alex Mack

LT Jake Matthews

DE Vic Beasley

DE Adrian Clayborn

DE Takkarist McKinley

DT Dontari Poe

CB Desmond Trufant

S Keanu Neal

2nd Round

G Andy Levitre

DE Ra’Shede Hageman

DT/DE Courtney Upshaw

LB Brooks Reed

LB Deion Jones

CB Robert Alford

CB Jalen Collins

3rd Round

QB Matt Schaub

RB Tevin Coleman

WR Mohamed Sanu

WR Andre Roberts

TE Austin Hooper

LB Duke Riley

4th Round

RB Devonta Freeman

WR Justin Hardy

TE Levine Toilolo

G Sean Harlow

LB De’Vondre Campbell

5th Round

RB Brian Hill

TE Eric Saubert

DE/DT Jack Crawford

DT Grady Jarrett

S/CB Damontae Kazee

S Ricardo Allen

6th Round

G Wes Schweitzer

P Matt Bosher

7th Round

LB/S Kemal Ishmael


FB Soma Vainuku

WR Taylor Gabriel

WR Anthony Dable

TE Josh Perkins

G/C Ben Garland

G Cornelius Edison

T Andreas Knappe

RT Ryan Schraeder

DE Derrick Shelby

LB LaRoy Reynolds

CB C.J. Goodwin

CB Deji Olatoye

CB Brian Poole

S Sharrod Neasman

K Matt Bryant

LS Josh Harris

The core of this team is undeniably made up of first and second rounders. You’ve got the franchise quarterback, all-world wide receiver, steady left tackle, Pro Bowl-caliber cornerbacks, the league’s best young safety, and arguably the NFL’s best young linebacker. The Falcons have had their fair share of misses at the top of the draft, but they’ve also done their best work there, and gotten many of the building blocks the team relies on today.

The third round features big-time offensive contributors Tevin Coleman and Austin Hooper, and Duke Riley could become a big factor sooner rather than later. The Falcons have been unusually successful in the fourth round, snagging one of the best running backs in the NFL, a useful tight end, promising young linebacker, and useful receiver and special teamer there. Harlow may turn into a starter down the line, as well.

The fifth round gave this team Grady Jarrett, one of the most promising defensive tackles in the league (you’re sensing a theme, here), a capable starting safety in Ricardo Allen, and their three fifth rounders this year all look like they’ll get a shot to contribute sooner than later.

Devin Fuller, former 7th round pick, could very well sneak on here ahead of Anthony Dable, a longshot I’m projecting mostly based on his athletic ability and potential. It’s still surprising to see just three players from the sixth and seventh rounds on this roster,

Two things are simultaneously true about undrafted free agents. The first is that there are way more of them than there are drafted players, increasing the available pool and the chance that you’ll uncover a gem, and thus it’s not surprising to see this many making up the Falcons roster. The second, though, is that they have a daunting road to relevance on many NFL rosters, and that simply isn’t the case for the Falcons, who have almost a full third of their projected roster here in the form of UDFAs. They’ve done excellent work uncovering guys like Poole and Schraeder, and they’ve been diligent about scooping up former UDFAs from other teams who have been able to be key contributors here.

You’re welcome to quibble with the contours of this roster, but it’s still fascinating to see how this might break down by draft selections, and how many of the truly integral players have been Falcons all along.