Atlanta Falcons 2023 rookie review & grades: DeMarcco Hellams

Evaluating and grading how surprise contributor DeMarcco Hellams played during his rookie season with the Atlanta Falcons

Atlanta Falcons v Carolina Panthers
Atlanta Falcons v Carolina Panthers / Grant Halverson/GettyImages

Not often do you see a seventh-round pick contribute to their team, especially in their rookie season, but that is what the 224th pick in the 2023 NFL Draft did.

Alabama product DeMarcco Hellams was able to take over as the starting safety later in the season for the Atlanta Falcons and exceeded the expectations of everyone.

Atlanta Falcons S DeMarcco Hellams rookie review

In the last edition of the Atlanta Falcons 2023 rookie review (we aren't going to review Jovaughn Gwyn who played one snap as a rookie, which came on special teams) we are going to look at seventh-round pick DeMarcco Hellams.

Rarely do seventh-round picks find the field for any amount of snaps but the front office for the Falcons was able to find a diamond in the rough in Hellams who proved to be the team's second best safety last season.


  • 15 games played
  • 370/1,141 defensive snaps played (32%)
  • 220 special teams snaps (59 kick coverage, 43 kick return, 62 punt coverage, 49 punt return, 7 FG/PAT block)
  • 40 tackles
  • 1 tackle for loss
  • 1 QB hit
  • 12 targets, 10 completions allowed
  • 36 yards allowed
  • 0 TD allowed
  • 0 pass breakups
  • 2 penalties, 0 accepted

Coverage stats provided by Pro Football Focus

The good:

As I have already said, DeMarcco Hellams was going into camp hoping to stick around on the final roster or the practice squad. Seventh-round picks are the furthest thing from being guaranteed a roster spot but, to his credit, he proved he could play with a strong preseason performance.

From there, he only saw occasional action before the bye week. After the bye week, he essentially took former second-round pick Richie Grant's starting spot and proved that he was the better player.

The coaching staff kept sending him out on the field and he would have ended the season as the starter if not for an injury. He was a reliable tackler and a decent player overall.

The bad:

There isn't anything bad that sticks out like a sore thumb. He was never the best player on the field but he was far from being a liability.

Hellams couldn't do much on the stat sheet, minus a five-plus tackle game here and there. His production when the ball was in the air was almost nonexistent with zero pass breakups, zero interceptions, and only two incompletions when he was in coverage.

Suffice to say, it was a lot of average/good play and nothing more.


Considering when he was drafted and the low expectations for him, DeMarcco Hellams was a pleasant surprise. He unseated a safety who came into the league with a lot more expectation and he proved to be the better player.

Does this mean the Falcons should pencil him in as Jessie Bates' running mate? No, but he gives them flexibility for next season and a nice depth option, at the very least

Grade: A-


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