Terry Fontenot’s first draft class will need to produce a handful of quality starters if the Falcons are to compete for a playoff spot anytime soon. There has long been a lack of consistent trench play in Atlanta because of bad drafting, so Fontenot needs his picks to hit if he expects them to be competitive in the coming years.
In the first week of the season, the rookie class was mainly nonexistent except in bad cases. Kyle Pitts was held mostly in check by the Eagles defense, even though he was targeted eight times. Richie Grant didn’t play significant snaps. Jalen Mayfield had an unbelievably miserable introduction to the NFL. Drew Dalman played sparingly and did well when in but still committed a penalty in that short period. Ade Ogundeji played and showed up against the run, and Avery Williams looks dynamic and reliable as a return man, while the rest of the class didn’t get much action.
Last week against the Bucs, the 2021 draft class revealed itself a bit more. Pitts had an electric catch and run that went for 24 yards, Richie Grant is making a big contribution on special teams and will slowly be worked into the defense, Jalen Mayfield played poorly again but did improve, Ta’Quon Graham and Ade Ogundeji both played well in their relatively few snaps, and Avery Williams had a number of positive returns.
It wasn’t much, but the 2021 draft class showed improvements from Week 1 to Week 2. That is the premise of this piece — improvement. It may not have been drastic, but it was better than the play the group put together against the Eagles. Pitts will take this league by storm at some point, but the Falcons will need multiple other players in this class to continually stack positive performances if the Falcons want to compete anytime soon.
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