Following the 2020 NFL Draft, we had a chance to speak with former Falcons kicker and NFL Hall of Famer Morten Andersen to get his take on Atlanta’s draft class, the team’s trajectory in 2020, and the new uniform designs. If you missed the first part of the interview, where Morten broke down his thoughts on each of Atlanta’s picks, you can find it here.
Below you’ll find part 2, where we get into some more of Morten’s thoughts on the draft class as a whole, the Falcons’ trajectory in 2020, and Atlanta’s new uniforms.
Morten Andersen was speaking on behalf of Bet Pennsylvania.
Kevin Knight, The Falcoholic: Outside of a few free agent signings here and there, the Falcons roster is pretty close to its final form. How do you feel about the team heading into the 2020 season, and do you think Atlanta did enough to return to playoff contention?
Morten Andersen: You know, if the core group performs to their ability, I think they can get back there. I think they’re vulnerable at certain positions—they’re thin. They’re going to be facing Tom Brady, Teddy Bridgewater, and Drew Brees, so their pass defense is going to be tested. I know Marlon Davidson will help the pass rush and other guys will step up but...I don’t know man, I’m kind of 50-50 on another 8-8, 7-9 season.
They’re certainly, to me, not the best team in the NFC South. I’d put the Saints and...maybe Carolina? They had a great draft. But listen, the Falcons have the ability. They have great playmakers on offense, they’ve got a quarterback that’s solid. They’re Achilles heel has always been scoring in the red zone, and I don’t know if they’ve shored that up any. So, we’ll see. It’s a tough division now. The division got better, and there’s some gunslingers here. All of the quarterbacks in the division now can throw the rock, and Teddy Bridgewater can move.
Overall, I think I’d give the Falcons draft a C, maybe a C+.
Kevin: Yeah, I think that’s fair. There’s been quite a range of grades on it, and it probably depends on what you think of Terrell for the most part.
Morten: Well, maybe a B-. I mean, I like Marlon Davidson in the second round, I like Matt Hennessy in the third round. Those were solid picks. I think the main thing is, they’ve underachieved lately. That trade that they were talking about never happened.
Kevin: I know a lot of fans were interested in the Falcons trying to get someone like Javon Kinlaw, the defensive tackle from South Carolina. Then to have him go two picks before we picked, it was really crushing to a lot of people.
Morten: And there may have been some talk about trading up [for Kinlaw], we don’t really know. We weren’t sitting in that room.
Kevin: Right, we’re so used to seeing Dimitroff trade up. I think this was the first time he hasn’t made a trade in a draft in quite a while, so it was pretty surprising. Were you hoping they would make some sort of trade, or move up for any specific players?
Morten: I was looking for that, you know. I thought they really had a need. Again, the Terrell pick was very surprising to me. He got bullied against LSU.
Kevin: Yeah, if only that wasn’t his last game, because it was rough!
Morten: I mean he has great tape otherwise, don’t get me wrong, but it was rough.
Kevin: It’s funny, because obviously you’ve seen more of his tape and I have too, but so many people have only seen the LSU game. That game was really bad, and it really soured the public’s opinion on him. But it was a bit of a surprising pick, and you actually mentioned two of the guys I had ahead of him on my board: Jeff Gladney and Jaylon Johnson. Two guys that I really liked. Not to say that I didn’t like Terrell, or his fit with the Falcons: I had actually mocked him twice to the Falcons in the second round. But I think people seeing his name in the first gave a little bit of sticker shock. His hype was building and he was getting first round buzz over the last week, but that was pretty recent.
Morten: Yeah, I think he was like the fifth or sixth ranked cornerback.
Kevin: That’s about where he was for me. It’s interesting, because we heard that the Raiders were interested in taking him at 19. Sean Payton, the Saints coach, came out and said that they were planning to trade ahead of the Raiders to take him. So it seemed like maybe the NFL was higher on him than most of us were.
Morten: Hey, he may go out and ball and surprise us!
Kevin: Yeah, that would be cool. I’m always open to that.
Morten: Hell yeah, I’m open to that. I love the stories where players get criticized, and they don’t say anything. They just go out and ball, and surprise us, and prove everybody wrong. That’s the motivation, you know, that’s what it’s all about.
Kevin: Yeah, those are the great stories, the ones that we love.
Morten: So what draft grade would you give the Falcons?
Kevin: I think I gave them a B, because I really liked the Marlon Davidson pick. I had been really clamoring for a defensive line addition, and then Matt Hennessy was someone who I really liked throughout the draft process as well.
Morten: Yeah, I thought those were two really solid picks, I really liked them.
Kevin: Very forward-thinking too, with the Hennessy pick. Giving him a chance to learn behind Alex Mack for a year is important.
Morten: That’s right. He steps into an ideal scenario, you know? He’s got a starting job waiting in the wings, and he’s got a chance to learn as an understudy with a really solid veteran. That’s an upgrade, long-term.
Kevin: I’ve got to get your take on the Falcons new uniforms while I’m here. What are your thoughts?
Morten: Yeah, I don’t like [the uniforms]. Not a fan of the “ATL” on the front. But I’m old school when it comes to unis, you know? If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. The all-blacks that we wore in the 90s, the black with the black helmets, I loved that. I even liked the originals—the red jerseys and red helmets with black falcons. That to me is the Atlanta Falcons, what the logo should be.
Kevin: The new uniforms are very different, they definitely took more of a modern turn.
Morten: It reminds me a little of the XFL, you know?
Kevin: Yeah, it’s a different look. They said they wanted to make it different, so it’s not surprising. I definitely wanted them to go back to all-black.
Morten: Me too!
Kevin: Right, so that part was a step forward. The new design is kind of polarizing, you either like it or you don’t.
Morten: I personally don’t care for it, but I’m not running the team. I’m not Arthur Blank, and I don’t have a fancy marketing position in that front office (laughs).
Kevin: So if you had your choice, the Falcons would be wearing the throwbacks every week?
Morten: Yeah, oh yeah. Throwbacks for sure.
Kevin: Haha, I know we’ve got a certain part of the fanbase that would always prefer the throwbacks. I’m glad that we’re going to continue to see that, as the Falcons did list that as one of the options.
Morten: I’m fine with options, you know? Fine with having different unis. Just keep it consistent as far as what’s on the unis. Your branding should be consistent.