Falcons: 5 NFL draft mid-to-late-round gems

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The greatest stories in the NFL are when late-round picks or undrafted free agents turn into legends. Tom Brady (sixth-round), Kurt Warner (UDFA), Shannon Sharpe (seventh-round), and Terrell Davis (sixth-round) are all or will be Hall of Famers. I consider mid-to-late-round picks to be from the fourth-round and beyond, which is where we will focus. In the Thomas Dimitroff era, the Falcons had some success in this area of the draft, but they didn’t hit as frequently as some other organizations.

Devonta Freeman (fourth-round) and Ricardo Allen (fifth-round) were both productive players for the Falcons but did not turn out to be worth their second contracts. Grady Jarrett (fifth-round) was the best mid-to-late-round pick from Dimitroff. He is top three at his position and deserves to be a Falcon for life — similar to Julio Jones and Matt Ryan. De’Vondre Campbell (fourth-round) was good for Atlanta when he was here, but again, not worth bringing back. Russell Gage (sixth-round) and Foyesade Oloukon (sixth-round) both are ascending players and could possibly receive second contracts for the right price. Most recently, Mykal Walker (fourth-round) is the latest mid-to-late-round pick to earn starting time, but who is next?

Quinn Meinerz

Quinn Meinerz played Division III for the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and was the sole Division III player at the Senior Bowl. This from my draft profile.

Mienerz is an absolute hog when it comes to run-blocking. He has a heavy background in wrestling, and it shows in his technique when pushing defenders around. He uses fantastic leverage and hand placement to dictate the direction of the defender. But someone this aggressive and bruising shouldn’t hold up in pass protection, right? Wrong, he’s lighting up all of his individual pass rush reps.

Osa Odighizuwa

Odighizuwa didn’t play much in 2020 for UCLA, but he still has an explosive first step and elite get off with great physical attributes — long arms and solid bend. He also possesses insane versatility playing nose tackle, wide nine-technique, and everywhere in between.

Payton Turner

Turner, like all of these prospects, is a project. He has a freaky seven-foot wingspan, is strong, and has one helluva motor. He needs a plan to rush the passer and must refine his hand usage, but he has plenty to work with.

Tommy Togiai

Togiai developed into more than just a run-stuffer this year at Ohio State. He may weigh 300-pounds, but he plays much bigger, which is crazy to think — noting his raw power and explosiveness off the line. Though he improved his pass rush in 2020, there is still work to do in that facet of his game.


Kenneth Gainwell

Gainwell is the only player on this list that isn’t on the offensive or defensive lines. He represents the SportsTalkATL motto of drafting a couple of running backs every year and never giving them a second contract. The former Memphis Tiger has good vision, elusiveness, footwork, pass-catching ability, and a surprising amount of power given his build. (see video blocking Micah Parsons) Memphis featured him as both a runner and receiver. His pass-catching skills should be a big part of his role in the NFL. 


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