With pick 225 in the books, the Falcons have finished their 2023 NFL Draft class. They added four likely starters, either immediate or down the line, and a pair of interesting depth options with those selections.
Here’s a quick roundup of the whole class, which we’ll break down in more detail in the days and weeks to come as we figure out roles and likely playing time for all of them. In the meantime, stay tuned for our undrafted free agent tracker, which should be live as soon as the NFL Draft wraps up.
Round 1, Pick 8: Texas RB Bijan Robinson
The Falcons clearly fell in love with Robinson as a runner and potentially a pass catcher in this offense, pairing the hyper-elusive back with “sledgehammer” Tyler Allgeier. Widely viewed as one of the best pure talents in the draft, Robinson seems like a luxury pick for an already quality rushing attack, but will be a centerpiece for this offense and will be asked to man the slot at times in the passing game. He has a great chance of being one of the more productive backs in the league in his first season, and a massive headache for defenses that have to contain him.
We’ll love the pick if Robinson rolls and helps take this offense to greater heights, and we’ll wonder about the value if he doesn’t prove to be a game changer. His talent suggests that Robinson will be fantastic, especially for a coaching staff that is clearly geeked to work with him.
Round 2, Pick 44: Syracuse OL Matthew Bergeron
A mauler in the run game already, Bergeron comes to the NFL as a tackle but will shift to left guard for Atlanta. He’s a day one starter and a rare obvious needs-based pick for Atlanta, and that stellar work paving the way for running backs will matter a lot in what’s expected to be a run-first offense featuring Robinson and Allgeier.
Bergeron will likely need some work before he’s a real asset in pass protection, but the move to guard will hopefully help make those issues less glaring and he’s talented enough to become a stellar, well-rounded starter in this league sooner than later. The Falcons taking care of their last glaring roster hole and adding a player who fits their scheme well is a big plus here.
Round 3, Pick 75: Ohio State EDGE Zachary Harrison
In the tradition of this front office, Harrison is a player with significant upside who shouldn’t be counted on to have a major role in his rookie season. He does, however, look like the kind of player who can become an impact starter if things click.
Harrison has the ideal length and strength to play for Ryan Nielsen, and comes into the league as a capable run defender, which will lead to him having a small but immediate role on early downs. He has promise as a pass rusher—players this athletic and powerful often do—but the team will have to unlock that for him to be more than a useful member of the rotation.
If all goes well, Harrison will be a forced to be reckoned with. If he doesn’t advance, he’s a solid rotational defensive end over the long haul for a team that only has a couple of options under contract beyond this year.
Round 4, Pick 113: Utah CB Clark Phillips III
A widely lauded selection, Phillips is a tough, instinctive cornerback very capable of punishing mistakes by forcing turnovers. He figures to be in the mix for the nickel corner role in his rookie season, and even if there’s not a ton of pressure on him to take that role right away, he has the talent and upside to be a quality starter in the not-too-distant future.
Phillips doesn’t have ideal size, but makes up for that with his coverage chops, ballhawking skills, and tackling. Added up, he’s a threat to be this team’s next Brent Grimes—you all remember how fun Brent Grimes was, right?—and his floor is a very good reserve for an Atlanta team that needs long-term solutions at cornerback.
Round 7, Pick 224: Alabama S DeMarcco Hellams
A capable run defender who should be an immediate factor on special teams, Hellams joins an unsettled safety depth chart and has a good chance of latching on in 2023 because of it. He may never be a plus player in coverage, but as a fourth safety option who could be a tackling machine for Marquice Williams’ special teams group, he’s a nice fit late.
Round 7, Pick 225: South Carolina G/C Jovaughn Gwyn
The team capped off their draft class with Gwyn, a career right guard in college who might fit best at center in the NFL owing to his size. Regardless of which position he winds up playing, Gwyn is a quality run blocker who will be fighting for a roster spot this summer and may wind up on the practice squad. He does have the talent to stick around long-term as a reserve on the interior, however, and we’ll see if he can make the roster in 2023 or if we’ll have to wait for 2024 for him to have an impact.
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