2023 NFL Draft Review: Grading the Atlanta Falcons picks with realistic expectations
Round 3: DL Zach Harrison, Ohio State
Zach Harrison is a long-term play on potential for the Falcons. He's got all the tools to be a great fit in Atlanta and was a value pick for them at No. 75 overall. He's got the athletic potential that suggests that he could be the new Cameron Jordan in the scheme. However, he's extremely raw and the Falcons should have him in a mentee role for the 2023 season. Harrison could end up being a long-term star in the defense, but it's more likely he ends up as a supporting starter.
No matter how it's laid out, the Falcons did make a good pick here. Third-round picks who can be at least average starters for reasonable contracts during their rookie deals and worth a second contract are worth the pick every time. Harrison should easily be in that kind of range for the Falcons with flashes of brilliance at worst. The value here is more than worth the pick at No. 75, though, even if it is just a potential play.
Realistic expectations for year 1: Solid special teams play with some additional defensive snaps here and there to help him learn. Maybe around 5-10 tackles and 1.0 sacks.
Round 4: CB Clark Phillips III, Utah
Value-wise, this was the best pick of the entire Atlanta Falcons draft. Clark Phillips was the Pac-12 defensive player of the year and is one of the best players in the draft this year. He's great in coverage and makes plays on the ball regularly. He should see time early as the nickel and could be the long-term starter for the Falcons at outside corner across from A.J. Terrell. This was a fantastic pick for the Falcons and should be with the Falcons for a long time.
He is going to be on special teams for the vast majority of his snaps in 2023, but he should also be able to eventually earn the starting nickel role. The Falcons could see him as a long-term outside corner. This year, he should have an impact even if he doesn't have the instant impact others might have. Phillips is a gamer, though. He can come right in and add turnover impact to the Falcons defense that it is sorely missing at this time.
Realistic expectations for year 1: Solid special teams play and potentially starting at nickel day one. Eventually ends up as the nickel starter and gets 15-20 tackles and 1-2 interceptions.