Earlier, Atlanta Falcons rookie center Matt Hennessy signed his contract with the team, per his Instagram account. A little while ago, rookie cornerback A.J. Terrell and linebacker Mykal Walker have done the same, per their own Instagrams.
Then the Falcons announced they signed their entire six man rookie class for 2020, getting all of them under contract with about a week to spare until training camp is set to begin.
We have signed our six 2020 Draft picks. https://t.co/0zVQpsOJBR— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) July 20, 2020
With the class under contract, the Falcons now have new presumptive starters at cornerback, guard, and punter under contract, as well as intriguing options at defensive tackle (where Marlon Davidson looks like a force to be reckoned with), linebacker, and safety.
After parting ways with longtime cornerback Desmond Trufant, the Falcons were in dire need of help at the cornerback position. So, with the 16th overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, they addressed the need, and took A.J. Terrell. If all goes well in this shortened offseason, Terrell will be the team’s top starter right out of the gate, and we hope he’ll thrive there in 2020.
Terrell has prototypical size at 6’1, 195 and has excellent athleticism with 4.42 speed, and extensive experience in both man and press-man coverage. Although he’s extremely promising, many critiqued his struggles against future 1st-round wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase in the recent College Football Championship. One game does not a career make, though, and Terrell’s long-term outlook is promising.
Davidson, the team’s 2nd rounder, showed nimble feet and terrifying power at Auburn, where he primarily played defensive end despite his size. In Atlanta, he’ll slot into the rotation at defensive tackle, where the Falcons have needed someone with pass rushing potential for a while now next to Grady Jarrett, especially after moving on from Jack Crawford in the offseason.
Mykal Walker, a 4th round selection out of Fresno State, may not be an immediate starter but is expected to be a significant contributor on special teams and a key reserve at minimum. He was a productive, athletic player in college and should be in the mix for a real role at the position in 2020, with a better chance at starting with a less wild offseason under his belt in 2021.
Jaylinn Hawkins, a California safety the team also selected in the 4th round, is maybe the biggest unknown of the class early on. He showed a nose for the football in college and has the physicality to succeed in the league, but with safety fairly stacked in 2020, chances are he’ll primarily play special teams in his rookie season. With Keanu Neal, Ricardo Allen, and Damontae Kazee all headed for free agency next season, he can make a good impression this year and push to start next year, but he’ll at least be one of this team’s top backups sooner than later.
Finally, sixth round Sterling Hofrichter is likely the team’s new punter. The strong-legged Syracuse product takes over for Matt Bosher, who wasn’t re-signed after nearly a decade of excellence in Atlanta, and even has experience kicking long field goals that may come in handy in 2020.
Welcome the entire rookie class to the Falcons!