Atlanta Falcons: Strong Draft Class Has A Lot To Prove

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Sep 13, 2014; Bowling Green, OH, USA; Indiana Hoosiers running back Tevin Coleman (6) against the Bowling Green Falcons at Doyt L. Perry Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Nobody knows how good the rookies will be

With the first overall selection of the 2012 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts selected Andrew Luck. Three years later, it’s safe to say he has justified that selection, and will likely lead the Colts to at least one world championship in his career. 

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Luck was a home run, but when you look at the rest of the top-10, it’s a bit of a mixed bag.

Second overall, the Washington Redskins selected Robert Griffin III. Griffin had an excellent rookie season, helping the Redskins to a 10-6 record and a playoff berth. It’s been a struggle since; he has been plagued with injuries, and couldn’t maintain a starting place in 2014.

Griffin has plenty of time to turn it around, and there’s a chance he will, but the Redskins mortgaged their future to get him, and they have paid a heavy price for it.

With the third overall selection, the Cleveland Browns took running back Trent Richardson. Richardson hasn’t surpassed 1,000 yards once in his NFL career, and enters 2015 at his third team.

The Panthers found a star in linebacker Luke Kuechly with the ninth overall selection, which highlights the fact that you just never know who will be live up to expectations and who won’t.

What about the players who fell in the draft?

Sep 28, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts running back Trent Richardson (34) warms up prior to the game against the Tennessee Titans at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Seahawks didn’t just knock it out the park with their first three selections in 2012, they hit it out of the stratosphere.

With the 15th overall selection, they landed defensive end Bruce Irvin. At No. 47, they drafted linebacker Bobby Wagner. In the third round they picked up quarterback Russell Wilson.

Do you think they would go back and change any of those picks?

In contrast, the Browns picked 11 times in 2012; only four of those players remain on the roster three years later. It’s likely they would do things a little differently if they could turn back the clock.

So what does this prove?

It just shows that you truly never know who will live up to their hype, and who won’t. With good coaching, the right scheme fit and a lot of luck, draft classes like the Seahawks’ in 2012 will be looked upon as a great success.

This time of year, every team from the Packers to the Jaguars feel optimistic, and rightfully so. Teams don’t draft players they don’t think will succeed in the NFL. We just never know.

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This isn’t to put a downer on the Falcons’ 2015 draft in any way whatsoever. In my opinion, the Falcons stocked up on a lot of good football players, while addressing their biggest needs in the process.

In the 2015 season, we will get a glimpse of what these players can do. I for one believe this class will be a strong start to the rebuild under Dan Quinn.

Three years from now, how will be look back on this draft class? Will Quinn’s first group in Atlanta compare to what his former team were able to achieve in 2012? It’s possible.

The beauty of football is its unpredictability. The draft isn’t a science, and nobody has a crystal ball. On paper, the Falcons had arguably the best draft in the entire NFL this year.

Now it’s time to prove it.

Next: Atlanta Falcons UDFA Spotlight: OT Eric Lefeld