Mel Kiper isn’t the most accurate draft expert out there, but he is the highest-paid, and he does have the best hair. That makes his re-evaluation of the Falcons’ 2018 draft class worth another glance.
Predictably, Kiper is higher on the class now than he was in 2018. The Falcons were coming off a mixed 2017 draft class and hit some unexpected roster spots with their 2018 class, snagging WR Calvin Ridley in the first round and using only one selection (DT Deadrin Senat in the third round) in the trenches. But it turned out to be a productive class, with Ridley enjoying an impressive rookie season on balance, Senat and Ito Smith flashing, Foye Oluokun playing far more and far better than we had any right to expect, and with Isaiah Oliver and Russell Gage expected to have larger 2019 roles.
For all that, Kiper bumped up his grade from a B to a B+, which feels about fair until Oliver and/or Senat reach their potential. With the exception of the 2015 class, the Falcons’ draft classes have tended to look better as time passes than immediately, and hopefully the 2018 class will someday only be exceeded by the 2019 one.
Oh, and the Saints, Buccaneers, Panthers all had their grades downgraded, with the Panthers’ overall disappointing class, the Bucs’ confusing decision to pass on Derwin James, and the Saints’ big trade up for Marcus Davenport and widespread cutting of 2018 picks all factoring in. Hopefully that class helps to submarine all three teams as the Falcons rise again in 2019.