Draft grades can sting or they can thrill you, but they certainly aren’t a reliable metric for what your team did. We just saw the Falcons assemble an eight man class that I think is generally pretty well-liked, so the real purpose of looking at outside grades is removing any homerism and/or earned cynicism from the mix.
Below, you’ll find a roundup of snap grades from a few outlets who have published theirs. Generally speaking, folks are bullish on this draft class, as you’d expect given the praise we saw for the picks as they were made.
The combination of London and Kyle Pitts should give a needed boost to the Falcons’ passing game. General manager Terry Fontenot addressed the team’s other major need on Day 2, strengthening a poor pass rush with Ebiketie and Malone, while also landing an athletic second-level defender in Andersen and smartly nabbing a potential future starter in Ridder.
Allgeier’s a solid pick but they could have met other needs with their first Day 3 selection. Shaffer lumbers a bit but can move the line of scrimmage. FitzPatrick wasn’t used enough at Georgia but has the potential to be a fine pass-catcher. Their defensive tackle group could use a strong undrafted free agent addition.
The Skinny: They took Drake London with their first pick, which will pay off, and wisely waited to take a quarterback in Ridder. He will be a good one and eventually be their guy.
GM Terry Fontenot understood how desperately the Falcons needed to infuse high-end defensive tackle to his roster. And he did that. Day 2 was tremendous for Atlanta, and London was my WR1 in this class. Desmond Ridder in Round 3 was awesome value, and DeAngelo Malone has sky-high upside. The later picks were shaky.
The Falcons receiving corps badly needed an infusion of talent, and London should provide a nice boost. A lot has been made about his ability to separate because of how much of his production came in contested-catch situations (FBS-high 17 contested catches in 2021). But that’s not all he brings to the table — he can create separation underneath, and he was productive after the catch for the Trojans. His 22 missed tackles forced after the catch last year — in just eight games before injury — is a top-five mark in this class.
The Falcons should be applauded for not forcing a quarterback in the first round. Going into the season with Marcus Mariota isn’t all that exciting, but adding a jumbo receiver in Drake London will make his life easier. London was the top receiver among a talented class on the B/R big board.
I think Drake London will be a really good NFL player, and maybe the Falcons have the capabilities to use him right now. Both Marcus Mariota and Ridder are on-time throwers who succeed more regularly with a defined system. But London can reward quarterbacks who can buy themselves time, re-set and throw the deep ball, which Mariota and Ridder can both do. Ridder was especially impressive in finding more time within tight spaces. The Falcons’ offensive skill position set reminds me a bit of the middle years of Cam Newton’s time with the Patriots. Most of the weapons are taller with a larger catch radius and can dominate mismatches. Ebiketie has a heavy first punch and while his own momentum can be used against him sometimes, he is an example of the depth of this edge-rushing class.
There’s no doubt GM Terry Fontenot addressed all the team’s glaring needs, going down the line with wide receiver, pass rusher and an active tackling replacement for Foyesade Oluokun. The bonus was still getting a borderline first-round passing prospect to groom well behind Marcus Mariota, to whom Ridder has similar athletic and intangible traits. Allgeier was a much-needed power back, too. The drop from a “A” is tied to London being such a potential bust vs. the true top three wideouts in the class.
The most interesting pick may have been Desmond Ridder, who fell to Atlanta as the draft quarterbacks plummeted down the board. Ridder will need time to diagnose NFL defenses, and he’s got some accuracy issues to clean up, but he’s got Good Alex Smith potential. The Falcons had needs everywhere, and did a pretty good job of plugging all those holes.
Throw those red-zone fades after pairing leapers London and Kyle Pitts as the past two years’ first-rounders. Two pass-rushers in the first three rounds was smart. Stole the second quarterback, Ridder, at No. 74 to play a similar style to starter Marcus Mariota.