2023 NFL Draft Review: Grading the Atlanta Falcons picks with realistic expectations

2023 NFL Draft - Round 1
2023 NFL Draft - Round 1 / David Eulitt/GettyImages
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Round 7: S DeMarcco Hellams, Alabama

DeMarcco Hellams was an excellent safety for Alabama. However, he needs to work on a lot of technique before he sees any time on defense. He's not the best athlete and needs to work on processing offensive route concepts better. Long-term, he looks like a depth guy and special teams player. He's likely not someone they actually want playing any defensive snaps if they can help it, similar to Jovante Moffatt from last year. Brandon Joseph is a better safety who was available.

Hellams was a starter for the last two seasons at Alabama, but he contributed from day one. He has the potential to work himself into a role with the Falcons. It's not likely for Hellams to be anything but that backup safety. Atlanta could have gone a different, higher potential direction with this pick. However, new assistant head coach of defense Jerry Gray must have seen something in him that caused this pick to happen instead of what looks like better players behind him.

Realistic expectations for year 1: Special teams stud and depth. Ideally, he doesn't see the field on defense this year.

Grade: C

Round 7: C Jovaughn Gwyn, South Carolina

Jovaughn Gwyn doesn't look like someone who will contribute to the 2023 Falcons except as a practice squad guy who can eventually end up being a solid center. Essentially, he's a depth upgrade over current backup center Ryan Neuzil. Athletically, he's very similar to David Andrews, but his experience being only at right guard during his entire college career suggest that it's going to take a while for him to slide over. The Falcons definitely took him with a long-term plan in mind.

What that plan is could be anyone's guess. The best fit for him in the NFL is at center because of his lack of length, and he doesn't have the caliber play or athleticism to be a long-term solution at either guard spot. However, the Falcons likely just took him to be a depth piece for cheap, and that's a perfectly acceptable reason to take someone in the seventh round of the draft. It never makes sense to rely on seventh round picks to be anything but depth pieces.

Realistic expectations for year 1: Backup center for Drew Dalman and not seeing any game action

Grade: C


Overall, the Falcons got great value in the first four rounds and should have three instant contributors. Not only that, they got the best offensive playmaker in the entire draft in Bijan Robinson. They filled a hole on the offensive line with a starting left guard in Matthew Bergeron, and they got a starting nickel with Clark Phillips. They also got some depth and development picks with Gwyn and Harrison. They didn't need a lot with this draft, but they filled what they did need.

Overall Grade: A

ll 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.