Falcons: Grading the 2021 Draft Class midway through 2022

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Atlanta’s current regime caught a decent amount of heat from fans for the 2021 Draft, but it’s starting to show its true colors. I never thought the class was awful, just uninspiring. A lot of these players took somewhat of a redshirt year with mixed results. There are a few players this year that have really changed this narrative, most notably Darren Hall and Avery Williams:

So, how does this class grade out halfway through their sophomore seasons? I’ll be grading how the pick looks right now, not the future outlook, so keep that in mind.

Pick 4: Kyle Pitts

Although Pitts hasn’t put up the numbers a lot of fans had hoped for so far, he was still immensely successful as a rookie, and he’s a big part of Atlanta’s success so far in 2022. He’s a specimen at the position — I like for him to have a big second half.

Midseason Grade: A

Pick 40: Richie Grant

I implored Falcons fans to be patient with Richie Grant after he didn’t appear much in 2021, but a lot of people gave up on this pick. Grant has been fantastic in 2022, and he looks to be part of Atlanta’s secondary for the foreseeable future.

Midseason Grade: B+

Pick 68: Jalen Mayfield

They can’t all be home runs, but this wasn’t even a single. I’m not going to pile on Mayfield; it has been done enough already. He will have an uphill battle for a roster spot in 2023, especially with the new-look offensive line performing so well and plenty of money to invest in a new left guard.

Midseason Grade: F

Pick 108: Darren Hall

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises in all of the NFL, Darren Hall has been a pivotal piece of Atlanta’s (somewhat) improved defense. Hall has been extremely sticky in coverage and has been great against the run. With Casey Hayward out for the foreseeable future, we’ll see if Hall is a flash in the pan or not.

Midseason Grade: A-

Pick 114: Drew Dalman

Speaking of Atlanta’s new and improved offensive line, Drew Dalman has taken the starting center job and hasn’t looked back. He has been phenomenal for the Falcons and is a big reason why their offense is finally churning. He looks like a true steal in the fourth round.

Midseason Grade: A

Pick 148: Ta’Quon Graham

The Falcons badly needed a presence inside next to Grady Jarrett, and Ta’Quon Graham may just be one of those guys. He’s stout against the run, consistently showing up in that facet of the game, and he flashes as a pass rusher, so consistently pressuring opposing quarterbacks is the next step in his development. He may not ever be a Pro Bowler, but he’s a really solid player in the fifth round… even after his costly play against the Chargers.

Midseason Grade: B+

Pick 182: Ade Ogundeji

Although he hasn’t made a ton of splash plays, Ogundeji has been part of a new-look Falcons pass rush that can rotate guys in to get consistent pressure. That’s a valuable asset in the fifth round. Even if Ade has had some troubles, you have to grade a fifth round pick on a scale.

Midseason Grade: C+

Pick 183: Avery Williams

Avery Williams may very well be the most interesting player on this list. I loved his upside as a special teams contributor, and after beginning his NFL career at cornerback, he may have found a home at running back. Williams has been fantastic when it comes to returning kicks. Throw in the fact he has chipped in 5.8 yards per carry and 4.4 yards per catch, and the Falcons may have found a real diamond in the rough in the fifth round.

Midseason Grade: A-

Pick 187: Frank Darby

I had high hopes for Frank Darby, but even in a thin wide receiver room, he failed to make a big impact as a rookie. He has been moved to the practice squad with guys like Drake London, Olamide Zaccheaus, and Damiere Byrd┬áin the building. When you can’t crack the roster after a Calvin Ridley suspension, you have issues. There’s still some upside here with Darby, but it’s looking like a wasted pick. Thankfully it came in the sixth round.

Midseason Grade: D+

Overall, this class is looking much better than it did last year. The Falcons have found multiple contributors, and with a critical offseason coming up, they have some good pieces in place so they can avoid breaking the bank for their needs.

Midseason Class Grade: A-


Photographer: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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