The Falcons are an extremely young team, but that’s what you’d expect from a rebuilding franchise. And through two weeks of the season, that young core is impressing. The 2021 draft class is taking significant strides forward, and several rookies have been difference makers:
The Falcons No. 8 overall pick continued to ball and was once again the team’s leading receiver, catching eight passes for 86 yards and the first touchdown of his NFL career. He’s come as advertised and has quickly become Marcus Mariota‘s favorite target. The USC product is the first rookie to record at least five receptions and 70 yards since 2015 when Stefon Diggs did it. Moreover, London joined an impressive list of 21-year-old rookies with more than 150 receiving yards in his first two NFL games.
However, one rookie that might not be mentioned too frequently is Troy Andersen. The Montana State product wasn’t projected to make much of an impact outside of special teams. Much like Richie Grant last year, Andersen will play sparingly in Dean Pees’ defense as he acclimates himself to the playbook. Still, the second-round pick made a massive play at a critical juncture for the Falcons, blocking a punt in the fourth quarter that was returned for a touchdown by Lorenzo Carter to bring Atlanta within one score.
One of the most notable performers through two games has been the Falcons’ 2021 second-round pick Richie Grant. After playing sparingly last year during his rookie season due to a lack of knowledge of Dean Pees’ defense, Grant has played nearly 100% of the defensive snaps, missing only one during the Saints game.
Grant has been a mainstay in Pees’ defense and has played exactly how many envisioned he would when he was drafted — single and two high, in the box, near the line of scrimmage, in the slot, etc. Grant currently leads the team in tackles with 16 total to go along with a pass defended.
The Falcons are desperate for playmakers on both sides of the ball, and it seems it’s only a matter of time before Grant puts it all together. It was one of my favorite picks when he was selected, and though it took a little time for him to get accustomed to the NFL, Richie Grant is quickly becoming one of my favorite Falcons.