Atlanta Falcons draft recap and grade for each round

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 30: Wide receiver Drake London #15 of the USC Trojans catches the ball against cornerback Christian Roland-Wallace (4) of the Arizona Wildcats during a college football game between the Arizona Wildcats and the USC Trojans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 30, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 30: Wide receiver Drake London #15 of the USC Trojans catches the ball against cornerback Christian Roland-Wallace (4) of the Arizona Wildcats during a college football game between the Arizona Wildcats and the USC Trojans at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 30, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images) /

The 2022 NFL draft is in the books, the Atlanta Falcons had 8 selections and used them to fill a variety of needs and get the eventual future at the QB position. Terry Fontenot’s second draft as general manager of the Falcons witnessed him add some heat to the pass-rushing group, attend to the power fun game and get future pieces for an offense that begins a new era.

Round 1, 8th Overall | WR Drake London, USC

Grade: A-

The Pick: London is coming off a broken ankle but his talent alone helped put him into the top 10 as the first pass-catcher selected over Jameson Williams and Garret Wilson. London uses every inch of his 6’4, 219-pound frame that allows him to win jump balls as a 50/50 artist while his ability to win from the slot is also coveted. London is incredibly tough to bring down after the catch as his aggressiveness and physicality take numerous defenders to bring him down. AJ Brown developed quite well for Arthur Smith in Tennessee and you’d imagine the vision is similar as London will be used underneath a lot with the ability to win downfield.

What’s Next? The Falcons only added one wide receiver during the 2022 draft so this positional group is still in need of a major boost as it’s quite alarming the talent around him. Kyle Pitts gives them two young building blocks in the receiving core meaning it’s not all bad as the future is bright and if Calvin Ridley comes back in 2023 then this core will be in great shape, but short term this group still needs immense attention. Atlanta will turn toward the UDFA market as they look to bring in some more options for training camp.

Round 2, 38th Overall | EDGE Arnold Ebiketie, Penn State

Grade: A

The Pick: I mocked Ebiketie to Atlanta numerous times and thankfully it became reality. The 6’2, 250 pound Temple transfer arrived at Penn State and in his one year of work with Brent Pry developed into an early day two selection. Ebiketie has a great bend off the edge as he uses every bit of his long arms and although he struggles directly against the run he has a nice backside pursuit. Ebiketie has some clean inside moves as a pass rusher that are mixed with pure strength and balance.

What’s Next? Edge still remains a big area of concern, like many positional groups on this roster but the Falcons did a respectable job this weekend in giving it a facelift. Ebiketie has a role carved out for him in Dean Pees’ 3-4 system and will in all honesty end up leading the Falcons in sacks this fall as his services will be leaned on immediately.

Round 2, #58th Overall | LB Troy Anderson, Montana State

Grade: B

The Pick: Anderson brings a ton of versatility to the table so his role with the Falcons will be something to monitor as his zone coverage skills give him the ability to play in the nickel while his speed makes him desirable when moving vertically. Anderson ran a 4.42 and when your are 6’4, 243 with that type of speed you are destined to get on the field early as that frame also allows him to match up with tight ends and backs. Anderson sounds amazing, right? but he does have his flaws that can be addressed with coaching like the lack of physicality that causes his run-stopping abilities to take a dip, while his change of direction doesn’t match his athletic profile.

What’s Next? Anderson is a high upside player but if he can’t find the urge to be physical and aggressive it will be hard to have a sustainable NFL career and that is a true concern but something that can be brought out of players. The Falcons found Foye Oluokun’s hopeful replacement but newly acquired Rashaan Walker will get the first crack at a starting spot Anderson will certainly be on the field often in year one as the athletic traits are to impressive to keep on the sideline. LB is now arguable the most well-secured group on this roster and I like the Anderson pick as it fills a need in Atlanta.

Round 3, #74 Overall | QB Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati

Grade: A

The Pick: I mocked Ridder to the Falcons numerous times to this exact selection as it just made to much sense and it to fruition. Ridder struggles with accuracy and his mechanics wavier which causes balls to be underthrown downfield but he heats up and gets better in these areas as the game progresses. Ridder is very similar to Marcus Mariota as the former Duck is an inch taller and only 6 pounds bigger with a great ability to run and pick up yards when he takes off. The pocket awareness needs some work along with some passer discipline as he tends to put too much air on balls or throw them too high but overall this is a great pick for the future. Ridder is a terrific raw prospect and will be alongside an outstanding locker room guy in Mariota.

What’s Next? Nothing much changes for the Falcons QB room as this was the plan all along and i was totally on board with it, especially with the pick coming at 74 overall. Arthur Smith has implied there will be a QB battle this fall but Mariota should come out on top and will be a good bridge into the future while they would like to see Ridder on-field by 2024 at the latest before his contract expires in four years. Atlanta isn’t desperate and they aren’t in a hurry either to find Matt Ryan’s successor, meaning this is a good situation for the Falcons. Felipe Franks will presumably battle be QB3 as I don’t anticipate a fourth passer being brought in for fall camp.

Round 3, #82 Overall | OLB DeAngelo Malone, Western Kentucky

Grade: B+

The Pick: Malone was insanely productive for being an undersized defensive end as he won with power and quickness and just overall tough play that resulted in numerous negative plays for the opposition. Malone isn’t a particularly well-run defender but his instincts will allow him to hold up the play so the athletes can arrive and make the stop.

What’s Next:? Much like Ebiketie, the run-stopping ability is a major drawback to Malone’s game but Atlanta made a good quality effort in getting some much-needed fresh beef in the pass-rushing department which should put a smile on the face of Falcon fans. Malone will be a situational pass rusher early on and if Lorenzo Carter struggles could easily find himself in the starting lineup but they now have a few options.

Round 5, #151 Overall | RB Tyler Allgeier, BYU

Grade: C+

The Pick: I’m a fan of Allgeier but he is the type of running back that won’t thrive unless his offensive line does a big bulk of the work at the next level. Allgeier is 5’11, 214 pounds but is mainly a back that does work from between the tackles as he won’t win much on the outside although his foot speed and size could allow him to win some short-yardage situations of the edge.

What’s Next: Allgeier is a good scheme fit for a zone running attack that will put his size to good use while he does an impressive job of making people miss but Atlanta needed to add not only a power back but some more explosion in this draft to his backfield and they didn’t. It’s not the end of the world as RBs come and go and the retooling of this backfield isn’t exactly something Terry Fontenot is going to rush but Allgeier will be a moderate producer as his ceiling isn’t very high.

Round 6, #190 Overall | OG Justin Shaffer, Georgia

Grade: B

The Pick: The Bulldogs left side was highly impressive a season ago and Justin Shaffer was one half of that. Shaffer has a strong lower body mixed with a physicality which is a must when playing ball at UGA. Shaffer can really drive defenders back when he pops out of his stance with good technique and hand placement but he struggles at times with balance in pass protection.

What’s Next? This is a really solid pick-up late in the draft as the Falcons made a small effort here on day three to give the running game some assistance. Shaffer is strong and physical but will have to battle with Jalen Mayfield to get into the starting lineup, a player that struggled immensely in pass protection in 2021. The Falcons have invested a lot into this offensive line and should start to take a turn and the addition of Shaffer could shore up the interior but it will take some time.

Round 6, #213th Overall | TE John FitzPatrick, Georgia

Grade: C+

The Pick: The Falcons go with back-to-back national champions to end day three with a tight end. FitzPatrick is a mean blocker but that’s all his role will be at the next level as he doesn’t provide much as a pass-catcher but his 6’7, 250-pound frame could allow for some positive matchups in the red zone. Atlanta could have filled other needs with this selection but the continued commitment to beefing up the run game is respected.

What’s Next? Kyle Pitts was one of the top rookies a season ago as a perennial pass catcher while Anthony Firsker reunites with Artur Smith from their Titan days meaning FitzPatrick should slot in as tight end three on run-heavy sets. Tight end is one of the better put-together groups on this roster but overall this was a moderate selection that could have allowed ATL to focus on other needs.

Next. Will the Falcons start Desmond Ridder?. dark