I’m really comparing apples to oranges here, but I don’t care. The Falcons have had wildly different results from their free agent classes compared to their draft classes.
Free agents are mostly established players that aren’t really developing. They are who they are, but the fact of the matter is no organization in this league can sustain success without developing talent through the draft.
The Falcons have had success in free agency. Dating back to their first offseason under Terry Fontenot with Cordarrelle Patterson, who turned in one of the greatest breakout seasons we have ever seen, given his age.
However, for the most part, Atlanta’s free agent classes were limited due to the capital available. That changed this offseason. Terry Fontenot was able to work without restrictions and brought in a very impressive crop of veterans — Jessie Bates III, Kaden Elliss, Calais Campbell, David Onyemata, etc.
I could argue those four players have already had a bigger impact in four games than any and all of the Falcons draft classes.
From the first draft class, Kyle Pitts continues to be underutilized. Richie Grant hasn’t taken the significant leap many had hoped. Jalen Mayfield, Frank Darby, Ade Ogundeji, and Darren Hall didn’t even make it to the end of their rookie contracts. Drew Dalman and Ta’Quon Graham have proven to be serviceable pieces, but they shouldn’t be the only significant contributors of an entire draft class.
The 2022 draft class’s brightest pick was Tyler Allgeier. Drake London is suffering the same fate as Kyle Pitts in terms of usage. Arnold Ebiketie deserves more time to develop, but DeAngelo Malone hasn’t taken a single snap on defense this season. Desmond Ridder obviously doesn’t look great, while Troy Andersen‘s development has taken a hit with a potentially season-ending injury.
The rookie class this year has struggled outside of Bijan Robinson. Matthew Bergeron‘s first season has been a bag of mixed results, which is to be expected from a rookie offensive lineman. Zach Harrison has assumed a rotational role and hasn’t made a huge impact, which isn’t surprising at all, given his draft pedigree. The rest haven’t seen the field much.
This isn’t a groundbreaking analysis. Established free agents are bound to have a bigger impact than young players, but so far, it seems the Falcons aren’t very good in the draft under this new regime.
Photographer: Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire