Recapping the Atlanta Falcons 2018 Draft
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.
Calvin Ridley (1st – 26th Overall) – When the Atlanta Falcons drafted Calvin Ridley in 2018, they likely thought he’d be their number-one receiver for the next 10-15 years as Julio Jones started to decline. After a rookie season where he scored ten touchdowns and a dominant season in 2020 where he racked up over 1,300 receiving yards, their bet looked even better.
Unfortunately for the team, it was Ridley’s betting that changed the outlook of his career and the Falcons’ receiving group. During the 2021 season, Ridley decided to step away from football so he could focus on his mental health. It was later revealed that the wide receiver was betting on NFL games (including the Falcons) and was suspended for the entire 2022 season.
The Falcons have since traded Ridley to the Jacksonville Jaguars and began their pursuit for a new number-one receiver when they drafted Drake London last year. Considering Ridley has only played in five games throughout the past two seasons, it’ll be interesting to see where his career goes from here.
Isaiah Oliver (2nd – 58th Overall) – Oliver is another player who never seemed to reach the expectations the Falcons had for him. He played in 62 games for the organization but only had two interceptions and only played two full seasons. The cornerback recently signed a one-year deal with the 49ers and will likely try to land a longer deal next offseason.
Everyone Missed Warner: It’s always interesting to look back at the first round of a draft and see a player who went later than everyone expected. We’ll joke about how 20 or so teams had the chance to draft him and passed. Fred Warner somehow got passed up by every single team multiple times before landing with the San Francisco 49ers. The dominant linebacker is viewed as one of the best defenders in the NFL and already has two All-Pro honors to his name.
Deadrin Senat (3rd – 90th Overall) – Unfortunately for the Atlanta Falcons, Deadrin Senat can be viewed as nothing else but a miss. The defensive tackle only lasted three seasons in Atlanta, played in only 22 games, and provided little impact for a defense that could use playmakers.
Ito Smith (4th – 126th Overall) – I try to avoid adding personal judgments into these articles, but when the Atlanta Falcons drafted Ito Smith, I thought he was going to be a great addition to their offense. Unfortunately for both me and the Atlanta front office, that never ended up being the case. The running back never played a full season, only scored six touchdowns, and was gone after three seasons with the team.
Don’t Sweat It: Similar to Fred Warner, Josh Sweat was a player that everyone passed on multiple times before being drafted in the fourth round. The defensive end has racked up 28.5 sacks, 153 tackles, a Pro Bowl nomination, and helped lead the Philadelphia Eagles to the Super Bowl this past season.
Russell Gage (6th – 194th Overall) – For a sixth-round pick, the Falcons must be proud of the production they got out of Russell Gage during his time in Atlanta. The wide receiver put up over 2,000 receiving yards, 9 touchdowns, and almost 200 receptions. He had more than 750 receiving yards during his last two seasons in Atlanta before signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year. Although his production dropped, he has outperformed numerous receivers chosen above him in the draft already.
Foyesade Oluokun (6th – 200th Overall) – The Atlanta Falcons somehow got better production out of their two sixth-round picks than they did from their third and fourth-round selections when you consider the numbers Foyesade Oluokun put up. The linebacker from Yale contributed over 450 tackles, five sacks, five interceptions, and forced seven fumbles during his four years. He eventually signed a large contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars and lead the NFL in tackles last year.