The Falcons are gearing up for the 2023 NFL Draft, where they currently have seven selections. The team swapped a fifth rounder and a seventh rounder to get Jeff Okudah and Jonnu Smith, so this list is a little slimmer than it was a month ago, but should hopefully help the team bring in plenty of talent.
What have the Falcons done with the No. 8 pick in the past? How about the No. 75? Because trips down memory lane are enjoyable, let’s take a look at who the team has come away with at their current draft slots in previous years, just as we did in 2022.
WR Drake London, 2022
EDGE Vic Beasley, 2015
DE Jamaal Anderson, 2007
CB DeAngelo Hall, 2004
OT Bob Whitfield, 1992
Five picks in just over 30 years have come at #8, making it the most frequent landing spot for a Falcons first round pick in that span. The results have been mixed, but mostly good.
We’ll start with Big Bob. Whitfield is a franchise great, having played in 178 games for the Falcons and locking down the left tackle job for nearly a decade. He was a Pro Bowler in 1998, but probably should have received that honor more than once during his time in Atlanta. Only Mike Kenn and Jake Matthews are in his stratosphere as a left tackle for the Falcons.
Hall had a couple of terrific seasons in Atlanta, earning Pro Bowls nods in 2005 and 2006 and picking off 10 passes over those two years. The incoming Thomas Dimitroff/Mike Smith regime soured on him and shipped him off in 2008, but he’s ninth in team history for career interceptions despite spending just four years in Atlanta.
Anderson is justly considered one of the worst misses in team history, a top ten pick who finished his career in Atlanta with just 4.5 career sacks.
Beasley, of course, had one huge season, picking up 15.5 sacks and helping key a stronger-than-expected Falcons defense in 2016. While he washed out of Atlanta after five years and currently is playing in the XFL, it’s tough not to remember that season fondly, and he’s seventh in team history for career sacks.
Finally, there’s London. It’s too soon to say what his career in Atlanta will look like, but he had a quality rookie season minus a couple of costly fumbles and looks like he should be a top option in this passing game for many years to come. Hopefully he’ll wind up being one of the best picks on this list.
WR Gerald Tinker, 1975
I just wrote about Tinker for the 1970s draft retrospective, naming him as the worst pick of the decade for Atlanta. An incredibly speedy receiver who won Olympic gold, Tinker might have thrived in a different era on a different team but quickly washed out of Atlanta despite showing some promise as a returner.
DT Andrew Provence, 1987
WR Laurent Robinson, 2007
A couple of solid role players here. Provence started 12 games in his rookie season, serving as a defensive tackle and picking up 1.5 sacks, but quickly fell into a rotational and reserve role for the next four seasons. He finished his career in Atlanta with 69 games, 16 starts, and five sacks.
Robinson caught 50% of his targets in 2007, coming up with 37 catches for 437 yards and a touchdown, but fell out of favor the next year with a new coaching staff and was targeted just six times. He went on to have more success elsewhere, catching 47 balls balls for over 500 yards and three touchdowns over two seasons with the Rams before breaking out with the Cowboys in one of the more awe-inspiring one-year wonder seasons, catching 58 receptions for 858 yards and 11 touchdowns. A year later he had a solid year with the Jaguars and then was out of the league.
CB Charles Dimry, 1988
A lightning rod for criticism during his short time in Atlanta, Dimry once allowed Jerry Rice to score five touchdowns in a single game, earning the nickname “Toast.” He was actually pretty solid in 1990 outside of that absolutely brutal game against Rice, his third year with the team and the only one where he started the majority of games, but he moved on to stints in Denver, Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, and San Diego, where he was a starter multiple times. He had a long and pretty productive career overall, just not in Atlanta.
This will be the first pick at 113 in franchise history.
TE Kevin Starks, 1986
Starks, drafted out of Minnesota, never played in an NFL game.
DT Larry Bailey, 1974
T Jake Rodgers, 2015
Bailey appeared in just one game for the Falcons.
Rodgers, an athletic tackle prospect, didn’t stick in Atlanta but wound up appearing in 19 games for the Broncos from 2019-2020, making one start.