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Falcons 2021 draft class: Versatility and upside a theme for Atlanta

Headlined by Kyle Pitts, the Falcons’ 2021 draft class added several new pieces for all three phases.

2021 NFL Draft Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

On Saturday afternoon the Atlanta Falcons completed their 2021 draft class, and it looks to be a promising one.

The team leaned slightly towards the defensive side of the ball, adding five defenders and four offensive players, but it grabbed young talent at some sorely needed positionsth sides. Atlanta drafted two offensive linemen and three members of the secondary, and those players should be in the competition early.

Most importantly, however, the Falcons may have ended up with the draft’s best player – Kyle Pitts. Already marked with the “unicorn” label, Pitts might be the most tantalizing prospect to join the Falcons since Julio Jones, and that pick turned out fairly well. If Pitts becomes 75 percent of the player people expect him to, this draft will be considered a success.

Let’s take a quick look at the nine newest Falcons.

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Round 1, Pick 4: TE Kyle Pitts, Florida

What the Falcons are getting: A potentially transcendent tight end who has the potential to develop into one of the best offensive weapons in the NFL. Pitts has arguably the greatest athletic profile of all time at the position, and he enters a situation where he won’t need to be the first option right away. Matt Ryan has developed good connections with his tight ends throughout his career, and Pitts is yet another great option for him at the position.

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Round 2, Pick 40: S Richie Grant, UCF

What the Falcons are getting: After trading back a few spots and picking up a fourth-round pick, the Falcons selected a playmaker on the back end of the defense. Grant had 10 interceptions during his college career and is a sound player in coverage and against the run. He’s the type of defender with whom defensive coordinator Dean Pees has had success throughout his career, and Grant will add some talent and youth to a position group that changed nearly entirely this offseason.

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Round 3, Pick 68: OL Jalen Mayfield, Michigan

What the Falcons are getting: With their final Day 2 pick, Atlanta added a powerful offensive lineman in Mayfield. Although playing tackle in college, Mayfield is a player who could get a look at the Falcons’ open left guard position. He’s a well-rounded player who should be able to add value as both a run blocker and a pass protector at the next level, and Mayfield plays with the right demeanor to thrive in Arthur Smith’s offense.

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Round 4, Pick 108: CB Darren Hall, San Diego State

What the Falcons are getting: A standout at the Senior Bowl, Hall proved to be a smart, composed player in college and could develop into a good NFL contributor. He’s another playmaker in the secondary, and that may be something Atlanta rates very highly with this new regime. Hall isn’t physically dominant, but he improved every year in college and brings some football smarts to Atlanta.

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Round 4, Pick 114: C Drew Dalman, Stanford

What the Falcons are getting: An agile, zone-scheme center who fits the mold the Falcons have had in recent years. Dalman isn’t the biggest offensive lineman, but he is a good blocker on the move and will also be a candidate to man one of the team’s open interior line spots. At this point, Dalman is much more of an asset in the run game than in pass protection, but that can be helped by both scheme and growth at the next level.

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Round 5, Pick 148: DT Ta’Quon Graham, Texas

What the Falcons are getting: The first defensive lineman selected by Atlanta, Graham is a former team captain and an extremely long interior defender. It’s expected that the Falcons will utilize a variety of fronts, and Graham is someone who could play multiple spots on the defensive line. He has a great first step, which will make him a threat as a pass rusher, and he shows some potential to develop as a two-gap defender.

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Round 5, Pick 182: DE Adetokunbo Ogundeji, Notre Dame

What the Falcons are getting: Ogundeji became the second defensive lineman to join the Falcons, and he brings a lot of experience. A well-built end, Ogundeji should be a rotational player on a fairly thin defensive line. He has some versatility to offer and good hand usage, but Ogundeji will benefit from NFL coaching early in his career.

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Round 5, Pick 183: CB Avery Williams, Boise State

What the Falcons are getting: Although listed as a cornerback, Williams is likely in Atlanta’s special teams plans more than its early defensive plans. The former walk-on was a two-time Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Year and could be the Falcons’ starting punt returner. Williams had six career punter returns for a touchdown and was a threat to go the distance every time he touched the ball.

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Round 6, Pick 183: WR Frank Darby, Arizona State

What the Falcons are getting: The 2021 draft featured yet another excellent group of wide receivers, and Darby may be among the best athletes of that group. With their final pick, the Falcons added someone who may not have the best feel for the game but has the type of athletic upside worth investing in. A true deep-ball threat, Darby should have a clear role early on as the coaching staff works to determine if he can be anything more.