2023 Atlanta Falcons Round 7 NFL Draft Pick: Get to Know Safety DeMarcco Hellams
The Atlanta Falcons selected Alabama safety DeMarcco Hellams with the first of their two seventh-round picks in the 2023 NFL at No. 224 overall. He was likely selected to be a special teams guy in the short term and long-term a depth safety for the Falcons. Atlanta has some really good safeties on the roster, and they won't be putting insane expectations on the talented safety out of Alabama early in his career allowing him to potentially develop into a good third safety on the roster.
University of Alabama
Athletic Comparison and Numbers
Stats and Awards
2022: 13 Games Played, 108 Tackles, 3.0 Tackles for Loss, 1.0 Sack, 1 QB Hurry, 1 Interception, 1 Fumble Forced, 7 Pass Deflections
2021: 15 Games Played, 88 Tackles, 2.5 Tackles for Loss, 1 QB Hurry, 3 Interceptions, 3 Pass Deflections
2020: 13 Games Played, 62 Tackles, 1.5 Tackles for Loss, 1.0 Sack, 3 Pass Deflections
2019: 12 Games Played, 4 Tackles, 0.5 Tackles for Loss, 0.5 Sacks
DeMarcco Hellams is an obvious on-field leader that knows not just his responsibilities, but everyone on the field's responsibilities. He is like having a coach on the field. He has excellent instincts and knows exactly where to be and what to do to help create the best situation for his team. He's one of the best tacklers in the draft and doesn't let people beat him when they're in the open field. He's extremely intelligent with his run fits and what to do against the run.
Hellams is known for that jarring hit in coverage to separate the ball from the man and will break on the ball even if he can't get there to make a play on it to be in the right position. He hits like a hammer and can stand up to anybody whether tight end, wide receiver, running back, or quarterback in the open field and make them feel the hit. The Falcons will love using his strengths on special teams, and he has experience with that during his time at Alabama.
The former Crimson Tide safety has some issues when it comes to his athleticism in coverage. Demarcco Hellams is not super fluid with his hips and it caused him to have trouble dropping deep. In an ideal fit for him, he's not playing a deep safety role at all and is more in the box and playing underneath routes. He's someone who can get beat deep easily and has trouble covering in man. He also has issues with getting off blockers when playing the run.
His angles aren't the best, but that's something he can get better at with time. The Falcons will have to help him develop his run support as an eighth defender near the box because once they get him in the vicinity, he can make the tackle. Hellams has a lot to work with, but he's still a bit raw despite starting for two seasons under one of the best defensive back and safety developers in the college game in Nick Saban.
Intangibles & Off-Field Red Flags
DeMarcco Hellams is one of the best character players that the Falcons could have drafted at safety. He won the Pat Trammel Award which only goes to three Alabama players and is for a "player whose character and contributions reflected qualities of Integrity, Character, Importance of Academics and Inspirational Leadership during their time at Alabama."
While he wasn't a captain, that alone says that he's someone who was a leader for the Crimson Tide in the locker room. He shows leadership on and off the field like during the Mississippi State game when even in a blowout, he wanted everyone to hit their assignments correctly. The clip below shows him freaking out because of a touchdown being allowed that prevented a shutout.
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How does he fit in with the Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons are likely starting Jessie Bates III and Richie Grant as their safeties in 2023, and Jaylinn Hawkins looks to be the primary backup for them. However, DeMarcco Hellams should see a ton of time on special teams. The Falcons love to use their fourth safety as a primary gunner on special teams, and this should be something familiar for Hellams since he saw the same situation at Alabama. Hellams was a good special teams player his first two years and that translates up.
Why Demarco Hellams instead of Brandon Joseph or Emil Ekiyor?
The Falcons must think DeMarcco Hellams has better potential than either player on their team. Emil Ekioyor wasn't a great fit for the scheme the Falcons run on their offensive line. Brandon Joseph wound up going undrafted, so it's possible that he was misevaluated. The NFL teams always know more than what media does, so this kind of disconnect will happen at times. It's interesting that Joseph went undrafted though.
All advanced stats are courtesy Pro Football Focus or Football Outsiders. All traditional stats are courtesy of official team websites, NFLGSIS or CFB Stats.All RAS and athletic testing numbers are courtesy of DraftScout.com and Kent Lee Platte's RAS Football website.