When you look at a certain NFL general manager’s draft classes, you can usually find traits and things that tell you what the team values the most, and the Atlanta Falcons and general manager Terry Fontenot are no different.
There is a common trend that second-year general manager, Terry Fontenot, has had during his first two drafts as the lead front office guy.
What have been the Falcons’ trends for their last two draft classes?
The Falcons had a middling-draft class in 2021, albeit it is very early to evaluate at this stage, and their most recent class has garnered much praise as a whole, but again it will take a few years before we can truly grade how the team fared in the draft.
Among these two drafts, of course, being Terry Fontenot’s first two as the leader in a front office, there is one thing that sticks out amongst most of his draft picks—position flexibility and versatility.
Let’s start with the 2021 draft class, which certainly is headlined by the fourth-overall pick, Kyle Pitts. Pitts is a physical freak, he is listed as a tight end but can also dominate as a true receiver. The team’s second-round pick, Richie Grant, was drafted as a safety but played mostly as the slot corner for the team during his rookie season, it appears like he will move back to playing mostly safety in his second year.
Their third-round pick, Jalen Mayfield, started at Michigan as a tackle but ended up playing left guard as a rookie in the NFL and we will ignore how that went. Fourth-round picks Darren Hall can play inside and outside while Drew Dalman can play center or guard.
In the fifth round, the Falcons chose two defensive linemen—Ta’Quon Graham and Ade Ogundeji—who lined up in various positions on the line, and they also took cornerback Avery Williams who played slot corner, punt returner and kick returner. Arthur Smith originally said that they might have some offensive plays for him during the season, but that never happened, maybe we will see that this next season.
The trend continues for the Falcons’ 2022 draft class
Moving onto the most recent draft by the Atlanta Falcons, the one that took place a couple weeks ago.
First-round pick, Drake London is a prototypical X-receiver but he also frequently lined up in the slot for USC during his last year with the Trojans. Expect the Falcons head coach to move him between the two spots.
In the second round, the team traded up to select Arnold Ebiketie who is sort of an outlier here because he did almost strictly lined up as an edge rusher with a few plays on the inside and as an off-ball linebacker.
However, the same cannot be said about their other second-round pick, Troy Anderson. Anderson at Montana State played running back in 2017, quarterback in 2018, and finally linebacker in 2021. That is simply ridiculous.
Now the team’s third-round picks are also outliers as Desmond Ridder will obviously stick at quarterback but he is a versatile passer as he is extremely athletic, and then DeAngelo Malone is strictly an edge rusher.
In the fourth round, the Falcons took running back Tyler Allgeier who will stick at that position but he originally was a linebacker at BYU.
The Falcons last two picks are also two players that do not line up with the trend as Justin Shaffer essentially only played left guard and John FitzPatrick will be the team’s blocking tight end.
All in all, the Atlanta Falcons have seemingly prioritized position versatility as they have drafted some of the most versatile players that the draft has offered.