Atlanta Falcons: Top 10 All-Time Draft Classes – #3


Today, we continue our “Falcons 50” countdown. Staff writer Eric Robinson has been counting down the Atlanta Falcons’ best ever draft classes, and now moves onto No. 3.

You can find the full list of “Falcons 50” posts here.

The “Falcons 50” Top 10 draft classes has now reached the final three. Three draft classes that implemented a cornerstone type player(s) that transitioned the franchise.

For draft class No. 3, this particular class provided a new leader to lead the team into a new era of Falcons football. The class also included a key slot receiver for a few seasons, a starting middle linebacker, and added depth to the defensive line position. Here is draft class No. 3:

3. 2008 – Notable names: Matt Ryan, Harry Douglas, Curtis Lofton, Kroy Biermann

1. Matt Ryan, QB
1. Sam Baker, OT
2. Curtis Lofton, LB
3. Chevis Jackson, CB
3. Harry Douglas, WR
3. Thomas DeCoud, FS
5. Robert James, LB
5. Kroy Biermann, DE/LB
6. Thomas Brown, RB
7. Wilrey Fontenot, CB
7. Keith Zinger, TE

The 2008 draft class came as an important one. The Falcons were fresh off the Michael Vick catastrophe, the failed experiment of runaway coach Bobby Petrino, and a horrendous 4-12 season that got uglier by the minute.

In came QB Matt Ryan at third overall to be the new face of the franchise. Former coach Mike Smith called upon the former Boston College gunslinger and Ryan responded immediately. Ryan’s first throw was the first play of the 2008 season and so happened to be a 62-yard touchdown pass to WR Michael Jenkins. Ryan led the Falcons to the playoffs during his rookie season, throwing for 3,440 yards and 16 TDs.

Ryan’s best season came in 2012 with Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez as his weaponry. Ryan threw for 4,719 yards, 32 TDs, and 14 INTs.

Skeptics questioned whether Ryan was able to carry the franchise but Ryan has responded with 28,166 passing yards (1st in Falcons history) 181 TDs and 91 INTs plus voted to three Pro Bowls in just seven seasons on duty. Ryan earned the nickname “Matty Ice” by providing clutch play with 27 career game-winning drives.

The second round provided a solid LB in Curtis Lofton out of Oklahoma. Lofton started 63 of a possible 64 games and recorded a career-high 103 tackles in 2009, his second season. Lofton also recorded 92 tackles and 96 tackles in back to back seasons.

“The 2008 draft class came as an important one”

Third round pick WR Harry Douglas played six seasons in Atlanta with a career year in 2013 with 85 catches, 1,067 yards and 2 TDs.

Fifth round pick DE/OLB Kroy Biermann initially came in having to make his name on special teams. Biermann has provided depth for the Falcons over the years and recorded 21 sacks over seven seasons.

The 2008 class will be defined ultimately by the career of Matt Ryan. He was drafted to be the next face of the franchise and has been exactly what the Falcons needed, and then some.

Next: 3 Falcons who need to impress before opener