After the Atlanta Falcons did not reach the National Football League (NFL) Playoffs for the fourth season in a row with a 7-10 record, the Falcons decided to go with a full rebuild when they traded franchise quarterback Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts in the offseason. Trading Ryan for a third round pick was definitely a cold call by the Falcons organization.
Atlanta does need to upgrade the team roster so that the team can become a playoff contender once again. The Falcons only defeated one team last season that finished with a winning record. Fortunately, Atlanta was able to select some players in the NFL Draft that could help to turn things around this fall.
Round 1, Pick 8: Drake London - WR - USC (6'4", 219 lbs, 88 receptions, 1,084 receiving yards, 7 TD's in eight games).
London is a tall receiver that is fully capable of winning 50-50 balls in the air against defenders. The volume of catches that he makes per game means that he will be starting at one of the wide receiver spots for the Falcons. Atlanta had to draft a wide receiver that can play now because Falcons WR Calvin Ridley is suspended for this season.
Round 2, Pick 6: Arnold Ebiketie - Edge - Penn State (6'2", 250 lbs, 18 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, 2 blocked kicks).
Ebiketie brings the pressure from the outside on each and every play. The Falcons desperately needed a pass rusher because Atlanta only had 18 sacks for the entire season. More than likely, Ebiketie should start right away. He will also help out on special teams because he has the ability to block kicks from the edge.
Round 2, Pick 26: Troy Andersen - LB - Montana State (6'3 1/2", 243 lbs, 147 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 2 INT's).
Andersen played at running back and at quarterback for Montana State before switching to linebacker full-time for his senior season. He has the potential to make plays all over the field. He will be given time to develop because he played at outside linebacker in college, but his future position might be at inside linebacker.
Round 3, Pick 10: Desmond Ridder - QB - Cincinnati (6'3", 211 lbs, 3,334 passing yds, 30 TD, 8 INT, 365 rushing yds, 6 TD's).
Ridder started all four seasons while at Cincinnati. Last season, he led the Bearcats to the College Football Playoff semifinals. His leadership is legendary because Cincinnati was the first-ever team outside of the Power 5 college football conferences to reach the playoffs. Over the last two seasons, Ridder has improved his passing accuracy from 55% to 64%.
Ridder will be given some time to learn the nuances of the NFL game as a back-up to Marcus Mariota. However, Ridder must be prepared to play quickly because Mariota has never played a full season in his NFL career.
Round 3, Pick 18: DeAngelo Malone - OLB - Western Kentucky (6'3", 243 lbs, 94 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, 9 sacks, 4 pass break-ups, 4 forced fumbles).
Malone is an impact player along the edge whether he is rushing the passer or he is in pass coverage. He will be contending for a starting spot in training camp.
Round 5, Pick 8: Tyler Allgeier - RB - BYU (5'11", 224 lbs, 1,601 rushing yds, 23 TD).
Allgeier immediately becomes the Falcons back-up running back and their short-yardage running back. Atlanta confirmed the last sentence by releasing former back-up RB Mike Davis earlier this week.
Round 6, Pick 11: Justin Shaffer - G - Georgia (6'4", 314 lbs).
Shaffer started at left guard for the past two seasons with the Bulldogs. He adds depth to the interior of the offensive line for the Falcons.
Round 6, Pick 35: John FitzPatrick - TE - Georgia (6'7", 262 lbs).
FitzPatrick will see plenty of time in two tight end offensive sets as a blocking TE.
This draft from the Falcons is pretty good because each pick should possibly see some playing time during the season and because each pick fits into the philosophy of what head coach Arthur Smith is looking to implement on the field. Grade: B+.