With seven selections in Dan Quinn’s first draft back in 2015, the Falcons landed two impact starts in Vic Beasley and Grady Jarrett, and three useful pieces in Tevin Coleman, Justin Hardy, and Jalen Collins. That’s two true starters and three part-time starters and/or valuable reserves in seven selections, which I think is pretty good.
The 2016 draft class has absolutely blown that initial haul out of the water. With the news that Wes Schweitzer is starting (congratulations, Wes!). the Falcons have five starters out of six picks. Even seventh round Devin Fuller might be a useful special teamer and reserve right now if not for terrible injury luck.
Let’s review who the Falcons picked up in that class real quick, in case you’ve forgotten.
- Keanu Neal, starting strong safety
- Deion Jones, starting middle linebacker
- Austin Hooper, starting tight end
- De’Vondre Campbell, starting strong side linebacker
- Wes Schweitzer, starting right guard
Neal and Jones are already star defenders not just for the Falcons but across the entire NFL. Hooper has loads of promise, Campbell is coming into his own, and Schweitzer will have a chance to hold down the right guard job for years if he plays well in 2017. Draft classes like this one are spectacularly rare, and landing five starters in a single year is one of the better ways to set yourself up for short and long-term success, particularly when you already have pieces like an elite quarterback, running back, and wide receiver to build with.
Dan Quinn and the front office have done a lot of remarkable things since 2015, but it’s hard to think they’ll ever top the 2016 draft class. They deserves all the kudos they’ll get if this group excels again in 2017.