Recapping the Atlanta Falcons 2014 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.
Jake Matthews (1st – 6th Overall) – With over 140 starts, a Pro Bowl selection, and a Super Bowl appearance, it’s clear that the Atlanta Falcons made a smart choice with Jake Matthews in 2014. Looking back at the draft, it’s fair to say the team might have made the second or third-best choice of the top ten selections depending on how you feel about Khalil Mack (Mike Evans is a clear no. 1 unfortunately).
Fun Fact: Only four first-round picks from the 2014 Draft are still with their original teams (Evans, Matthews, Aaron Donald, and Zach Martin).
Ra’Shede Hageman (2nd – 37th Overall) – With only 16 starts over three seasons, Hageman must be considered a bust. He only totaled four sacks throughout his career and dealt with legal issues and then dealt with a suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. After a strong start to the draft, the Falcons dropped the ball on this one.
Other Options: Looking back at the 2014 Draft, every team in the league wishes they would have taken Davante Adams. The dominant receiver is still one of the best in the league and would have been a huge piece of the Falcons' offense throughout the last decade.
Dezmen Southward (3rd – 68th Overall) – Southward continued a trend of the Atlanta Falcons struggling with their day two picks in the NFL Draft. He only lasted two years with the team and was out of the league by 2018. This should be considered another complete miss.
Devonta Freeman (4th – 103rd Overall) – After his stats began to decline at the end of his career, some folks forget that Freeman was a mid-round pick for the Atlanta Falcons. He had two straight 1,000-yard seasons and scored over 40 touchdowns during his time with the team. His pass-catching ability was also a strong addition to the offensive game plan and he had three seasons with over 50 catches.
Best back in the draft? The 2014 NFL Draft was not kind to running backs, as there were numerous busts including Bishop Sankey, Charles Sims, Tre Mason, Dri Archer, and more. Freeman is easily one of the top-three backs from the entire draft class with Jerick McKinnon and James White, and there is a strong case he should be considered the best overall.
Prince Shembo (4th – 139th Overall) – Shembo played one year in the league before being arrested.
Ricardo Allen (5th – 147th Overall) – After being selected in the fifth round, Ricardo Allen was likely viewed as a depth piece for the Atlanta Falcons. He ended up recording over 350 tackles, 26 pass deflections, and 11 interceptions in his seven seasons with the team and was a great late-round pickup for the team.
Marquis Spruill (5th – 168th Overall) – Spruill tore his ACL in his rookie season and was released a year later by the Falcons.
Yawin Smallwood & Tyler Starr (7th – 253rd and 255th Overall) – With one game combined between these two players, neither made an impact on the Atlanta Falcons.
Undrafted Misses: There were numerous high-performing players left to pick up after the draft including Andrew Norwell, Shaq Barrett, Chris Boswell, Adrian Phillips, and Malcolm Butler among others.