Atlanta Falcons: 15 best first-round picks of all-time

Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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Bill Fralic, Atlanta Falcons
Bill Fralic, Atlanta Falcons. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images) /

Bill Fralic was one of the most underappreciated interior offensive linemen of the 1980s. After being a two-time unanimous All-American at Pittsburgh, the Falcons used their No. 2 overall pick to select Fralic in the 1985 NFL Draft. He would go on to play eight of his nine NFL seasons in Atlanta.

Fralic would catch on with the Falcons in the twilight of center Jeff Van Note’s illustrious Atlanta career. By the time Fralic arrived in Atlanta, left tackle Mike Kenn was a well-established star out on the edge in the Falcons offense.

Around the time of Fralic’s arrival in the league, Atlanta boasted one of the better rushing offenses in all of football. The Falcons could run on just about anybody with Fralic opening up gaping holes for All-Pro running back Gerald Riggs to explode through. While Riggs is seen as the greatest tailback in franchise history, the same can be said for Fralic on the offensive interior at guard for Atlanta.

From 1986 to 1989, Fralic represented the NFC in the Pro Bowl annually. He was First-Team All-Pro in both 1986 and 1987, as well Second-Team All-Pro in 1988. Known for his ability to pancake defensive linemen, Fralic was an absolute road grader when it came to run blocking.

Atlanta made great early return on its investment on Fralic. Typically drafting an offensive guard at No. 2 would be considered asinine. Yet, taking Fralic second overall in 1985 proved to be one of the better draft picks in franchise history. Despite only playing in the second half of the decade, Fralic made the NFL 1980s All-Decade Team.

However after eight years with the Falcons, Fralic would leave in the dawn of modern NFL free agency in 1993 to sign with the Detroit Lions. He played just one year in Motown before retiring at the age of 31. Fralic was a four-time Pro Bowler and a three-time All-Pro in eight years with the Falcons.

Sadly, Fralic would pass away in December 2018 due to cancer. He was 56. Though he had a borderline Pro Football Hall of Fame career in Atlanta, he has yet to be inducted into the Falcons Ring of Honor. If he ever gets in, it would have to be a posthumous induction.

Overall, Fralic is a prime candidate to stay in the Hall of Very Good. Being on the NFL 1980s All-Decade Team could help his Canton case one day. However, he only played on teams that made the NFC playoffs twice in his career: 1991 with the Falcons and 1993 with the Lions. Like George Kunz, playing for a non-glamorous team certainly hurts his case.