The Falcons will add fresh talent via the draft, and they’ll stock up the roster through free agency. We’ll likely see some 2021 and 2022 roster fixtures fade into the background as a result, which is a welcome sort of thing when your team is still building.
Where does that leave the 2022 draft class, though? In a nutshell, no amount of new additions is going to prevent that class from being impactful in 2023, in my opinion.
Last year, I wrote that the 2021 class’s impact shouldn’t be disregarded, a take that history both smiled and frowned upon. Richie Grant took the expected huge step forward, Ta’Quon Graham was a key piece of the defensive line rotation, and Drew Dalman locked down the starting job at center all year, but Kyle Pitts faded into the background, Adetokunbo Ogundeji did not really progress despite a large role, and Jalen Mayfield missed the entire year with injury. Out of all of those players, only Pitts and Grant came into the season with sky-high expectations, and only Dalman and Grant had full seasons as impactful starters.
That likely won’t be true of the 2022 class. Drake London is the team’s locked-in #1 wide receiver, Troy Andersen an intriguing expected starter at inside linebacker, Tyler Allgeier may well be the team's top running back, Arnold Ebiketie should be one of the team’s top pass rushers, and Desmond Ridder might well be the starter at quarterback, with others likely contributing as reserves. There’s essentially no doubt at all that three members of the class will start and play a lot—and hopefully well—and the fourth might get a shot to prove he’s the long-term option at the most consequential position on the field. That’s a recipe for importance.
Again, it’s unlikely any of those players are supplanted outside of Ridder. The Falcons will add a top edge rusher—please, Football Gods—but Ebiketie was always destined to be the #2 option for Atlanta. London can’t and won’t be pushed out of his top role, Allgeier won't fade away after putting up over 1,000 yards in 2022, and Andersen’s a lottery ticket the Falcons are intent on turning into a jackpot. That security means the real risk is that these players don’t take a step forward, rather than that they don’t have roles at all.
How important do you think the team’s 2022 class will be for their 2023 fortunes, and what kind of impact are you expecting from these players?