Recapping the Atlanta Falcons 2017 Draft

Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Atlanta Falcons v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

As the NFL Draft quickly approaches, it seems like the perfect time to start reliving the Atlanta Falcons draft classes from the past ten years. We’ll look into their hits, their misses, who they should have drafted, and a fun fact about every draft class.

This eleven-part series will end with a full recap of the Falcons 2023 draft with information on their picks, how they might impact the team in its upcoming season, and draft grades for the team’s choices as well.


Takk McKinley (1st – 26th Overall) – Similar to their first pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Keanu Neal, the Falcons likely thought Takk McKinley would be a foundational piece for their defense after his first two seasons in Atlanta. He recorded 13 sacks, played in 31 games, and had 42 tackles.

During the 2019 season, McKinley only recorded 3.5 sacks and was waived by the team within a year after publicly requesting a trade. He’s played in only four games since then and hasn’t played since 2021. Unfortunately for the Falcons, McKinley ended up being more trouble than he was worth.

Must Read: What to expect from Tyler Allgeier this season.

Wattage Missed: Four picks after the Falcons took McKinley, the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted T.J. Watt and got one of the best players currently in the league. With over 75 sacks and 87 starts, Watt has proved to be a game-changer for Pittsburgh’s defense and could have helped the Falcons pass rush reach a level we haven’t seen from them in a very long time.

Duke Riley (3rd – 75th Overall) – McKinley wasn’t the only player from this draft class to bust for the Atlanta Falcons. After taking Duke Riley out of LSU in the third round, the linebacker lasted less than 3 full seasons with the team and is now on his third team in the league.

Sean Harlow (4th – 136th Overall) – The Falcons started this draft with three straight picks that couldn’t even make it through their rookie contracts. After taking Harlow in the fourth round, the guard was released after one season and has only started five games in his career. Although the later rounds can be a crapshoot most years, it looks pretty bad that George Kittle was taken ten picks after this.

Damontae Kazee (5th – 149th Overall) – Somehow Kazee ended up being the best pick for the Atlanta Falcons in the 2017 draft. During his time with the team he started more than 30 games, recorded more than 200 tackles, recorded ten interceptions, and forced five fumbles.

Kazee ended up suffering a torn Achilles in 2020 which lead to his departure from the team in free agency. He started 15 gamed for the Dallas Cowboys in 2021 and recently signed a two-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Brian Hill (5th – 156th Overall) – Hill played for a few teams during his tenue in the league and recorded over 1,000 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns during his career. He currently plays for the St. Louis BattleHawks.

Eric Saubert (5th – 174th Overall) – Saubert recorded five catches during his time with the Atlanta Falcons and was traded after two seasons with the team.

An-All Star Roster Missed: Looking back at the Falcons 2017 draft, it’s clear they missed out on a ton of great players who could have changed the team’s long-term outlook significantly. They could have grabbed T.J. Watt in the first rather than McKinley, Chris Godwin in the third, Kittle in the fourth, and players including Matt Milano, Aaron Jones, or Chuck Clark in the fifth round without having to make any trades.

1st-round mock draft: Falcons make two selections. dark. Next

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