Recapping the Atlanta Falcons 2022 NFL 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. Although the 2022 NFL Draft class only has one year of production for us to review, I’ll be strictly judging this based on last season versus their long-term potential.
Recapping the Atlanta Falcons draft in 2022
Drake London (1st – 8th Overall) - For a long time in the NFL, rookie wide receivers struggled to put up the production that matched their lofty draft status. That expectation has slowly shifted with players such as Ja’Marr Chase so the Atlanta Falcons likely viewed Drake London as their number-one receiver after drafting him last year.
Although there was some inconsistency throughout last season, London put up four touchdowns, over 800 receiving yards, and set a team rookie reception record. As the Falcons start the Desmond Ridder era, London will play a huge part in his development and Atlanta’s hope of making the playoffs this season.
Arnold Ebiketie (2nd – 38th Overall) – While playing a rotational role for the Falcons last season, Ebiketie showcased some of his pass-rushing and athletic ability. He played in 16 games and recorded 30 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and forced two fumbles.
Atlanta has made significant changes on their defense this year though with the signings of Calais Campbell, David Onyemata, Bud Dupree, and Kaden Elliss joining the front seven. It’ll be interesting to see how the team utilizes Ebiketie this season and the impact he’ll be able to make.
Troy Anderson (2nd – 58th Overall) – The Falcons went back-to-back on defense and Troy Anderson was viewed as more of a project pick. Although he racked up 69 tackles throughout the season, he also had issues in pass coverage and had the look of someone figuring it out on the fly at numerous points throughout the season.
Anderson will likely start at one of the linebacker spots this year but he’ll likely have a short leash if his play continues to be inconsistent. Atlanta has the look of a team aiming for the playoffs after their free agency spending and it’s hard to imagine Arthur Smith giving Anderson significant playing time if his issues from last season continue.
Desmond Ridder (3rd – 74th Overall) – Desmond Ridder had an amazing career at the University of Cincinnati but fell to the third round before being scooped up by Atlanta. The Falcons were entering the post-Matt Ryan era and likely knew that Marcus Mariota wasn’t the long-term answer for the organization.
It took 13 games for Ridder to get his first start, but he showed signs of being a solid player. He picked up two wins while throwing for over 700 yards and two touchdowns in his first four games. The numbers may not blow most casual NFL fans away but folks who consistently watch Atlanta could see the signs of growth.
It seems the entire Falcons organization believes in Ridder this year too considering they didn’t make a trade or free agency signing for a new starter. The young quarterback has a solid offensive line, a number-one receiver in London, and a creative play-caller behind him. We’ll see how year two turns out but most Falcons fans seem hopeful about Ridder’s potential this year and long term.
DeAngelo Malone (3rd – 82nd Overall) – After receiving this pick from the Indianapolis Colts for Atlanta Falcons legend Matt Ryan, the expectations were likely higher for this third-round pick than normal. DeAngelo Malone might not have had the best rookie season, but he is another long-term prospect who should hopefully have a bigger impact this season.
Malone is in a similar situation as Ebiketie where it’ll be interesting to see how the Falcons utilize him throughout the season. As the team has shifted from a full-throttle rebuild to now being a playoff contender, Atlanta can hopefully find a balance between getting significant snaps for their young defensive players while also not letting it impact their overall record.
Tyler Allgeier (5th – 151st Overall) – No matter how the rest of his career turns out, Tyler Allgeier’s rookie season can be considered nothing other than a success. The running back produced almost 1,200 yards from scrimmage, four touchdowns, and became the first Atlanta rookie to rush for over a thousand yards since 1979.
Allgeier should serve as the starting running back this season and will look to build on his rookie success alongside Ridder, London, and the rest of the Atlanta Falcons' offensive pieces. He’ll likely play a huge part in the Falcons' playoff chances and their chance to win those close games that impact a team’s success.
Justin Shaffer (6th – 190th Overall) – Shaffer didn’t play last year and is expected to be a backup this season.
John FitzPatrick (6th – 213rd Overall) – FitzPatrick was placed on injured reserve last season and didn’t appear in any games. With the recent trade of Jonnu Smith and Kyle Pitts returning from injury, it’s hard to imagine the tight end will get much playing time in his second season.