March 18, 2020 seems like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it? Remember, that’s when NFL free agency officially began, although “legal tampering” preceded the official kick off by a couple of days. In the 6 weeks since, the Falcons got their game-changing pass rusher and filled out the defense via the draft. If the Falcons can somehow resemble a competent football team when the season begins, it’ll be the direct result of what may have been a surprisingly good off-season for a front office in desperate need of one.
The league year is in its infancy but we can now accurately predict compensatory picks. You see, NFL teams get these extra draft picks to help them compensate for talent they lose during free agency. 32 of these picks are made anywhere between the 3rd and 7th rounds. NFL Media’s draft analyst Lance Zierlein is confidently projecting that the Falcons will receive 1 compensatory 5th round pick and 2 compensatory 6th round picks in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Atlanta lost five free agents and signed one, but unfortunately for them, the addition of Fowler canceled out the loss of Hooper, leaving them with lesser-valued picks. One of their free-agent losses, Adrian Clayborn, is unlikely to qualify as one of the top 32 free agent losses according to the league’s compensatory formula, so the Falcons’ compensatory-pick total should be pretty locked in.
In a perfect world, the Falcons can use this excess draft capital to improve on the current roster. It probably feels way too early to start thinking about the 2021 off-season. In a way, it is, because these picks can’t be traded until they’re awarded. They’re not awarded until after the Super Bowl. Obviously that doesn’t mean the number and relative value of the draft picks a team expects to have won’t influence much of what it does over the course of the year.
Your thoughts, Falcoholics?