Recapping the Atlanta Falcons 2021 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.
Kyle Pitts (1st – 4th Overall) – Throughout most of these articles, it’s fairly easy to get a general sense of who a player is after a few years. With Kyle Pitts, the answer may not be fully clear until after the 2023 season. Throughout his rookie year, Pitts was a dynamic part of the offense who racked up 68 receptions, over 1,000 yards, and a touchdown.
Many expected Pitts to have an even bigger impact during his second year, but after a lackluster ten games where he struggled to connect with Marcus Mariota, he tore his MCL and missed the rest of the regular season. This season will be a huge tell on if Atlanta found their next superstar or if taking a tight end this early in the draft was a mistake.
Richie Grant (2nd – 40th Overall) – Richie Grant is the opposite of Kyle Pitts where he made a minimal impact during his rookie season then had a huge impact last year. Grant played in 17 games, contributed 117 tackles, two interceptions, and deflected 7 passes. He’s expected to start opposite Jessie Bates in the Atlanta Falcons secondary and should provide a huge impact for the team’s defense.
Jalen Mayfield (3rd – 68th Overall) – The roller coaster of the Falcons 2021 NFL Draft continues as Jalen Mayfield started 16 games his rookie season but missed every game last year after suffering a back injury. Unless a player in front of him struggles this year, it’s expected that Mayfield will serve as a backup.
Darren Hall (4th – 108th Overall) – Darren Hall has played in 31 games throughout the past two seasons and will likely serve as the third cornerback in the Atlanta Falcons' defense. He has contributed 70 tackles, six pass deflections, and forced a fumble.
Missing on St. Brown: As the Falcons attempt to build an offense around second-year quarterback Desmond Ridder, it’s easy to look back and question how every team missed on Amon-Ra St. Brown. The wide receiver fell to the fourth round but has recorded almost 200 receptions, over 2,000 yards, and 11 touchdowns since joining the Detroit Lions.
Drew Dalman (4th – 114th Overall) – After starting 17 games last year, Drew Dalman is expected to serve as the Atlanta Falcons' starting center this season. He only allowed 9 penalties last season and will be a part of the team’s standout offensive line. Looking at some of the players drafted before Dalman, it’s clear the Falcons made a smart choice here.
Ta’Quon Graham (5th – 148th Overall) – In an attempt to boost their defensive line, the Falcons selected Graham in the 5th round. Since then he has appeared in 24 games, has contributed 46 tackles, and is expected to serve as a rotational piece alongside Calais Campbell this season.
Adetokunbo Ogundeji (5th – 182nd Overall) – With 27 starts during his first two seasons, Ogundeji has likely played more than the Atlanta Falcons would have expected from a fifth-round pick. He should serve as a backup option behind Lorenzo Carter this season and provide snaps when necessary.
Avery Williams (5th – 183rd Overall) – The Falcons went back-to-back and selected Avery Williams one pick after taking Ogundeji. Since then, Williams has served a variety of roles for the offense, defense, and special teams units. He recorded 15 tackles in 2021, has produced over 1,200 return yards on kickoffs and punts, and has served as both a running back and receiver out of the backfield for Arthur Smith’s offense. It’ll be interesting to see how the Atlanta Falcons continue to utilize him during the 2023 season and how much of an impact he’ll be able to make.
Frank Darby (6th – 187th Overall) – Darby has played in 15 games but hasn’t provided a huge impact yet.