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The Falcons had the fifth-highest number of “homegrown” snaps in 2017

That’s a testament to the way they’ve built this team.

New Orleans Saints v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons have, to my eternal surprise, done a lot of things right over the last few years. They’ve bucked a long history of futility to get to this point, where they have one of the league’s strongest rosters and seemed poised for yet another playoff run in 2018, and much of that success has come through the draft.

Here’s a little stat that helps to illustrate just how much this team has been built on a foundation of good, young players acquired through the draft (and, in a few lucky instances, through undrafted free agents).

The Falcons were fifth in snaps from homegrown players, or players they’ve either drafted or brought up via undrafted free agency, as I mentioned above. That despite the fact that the Falcons gave fewer snaps to rookies than any other team in football, which means they were leaning heavily on players like Matt Ryan, Devonta Freeman, Julio Jones, Justin Hardy, Austin Hooper, Jake Matthews, Wes Schweitzer, and I could go on by you get the point. Atlanta’s done an impressive job, despite hiccups, in building a roster without being massive players in free agency every year, and without flipping bushels of picks for established players.

You have to figure Atlanta will once again be among the league leaders in this regard in 2018, and that bodes extremely well for the franchise.