Falcons may have found a gem in rookie seventh rounder


The Falcons may have brought in a difference-making draft class this offseason.

Everyone knows about the first-round pick — Bijan Robinson. He made his professional debut last week against the Bengals and gained 26 yards on five touches, including an impressive one-handed catch to go along with four broken tackles. He’s already the face of the franchise and one of the most dynamic players in the league.

In the second round, the Falcons traded up for Matthew Bergeron, who looks the part of an NFL offensive lineman, especially in the run game.

The Falcons then drafted a pair of defenders in Zach Harrison and Clark Phillips III in the third and fourth rounds, respectively. Though I expected the Ohio State product to be a work in progress, Harrison has shown to be anything but. He’s displayed chops in the run game and when rushing the passer, while Phillips continues to make plays on the ball.

However, the gem of the draft class and a member of Doug Farrar’s ‘Secret Superstars’ from USA Today is seventh-round pick DeMarcco Hellams out of Alabama.

In 2022, his final season with the Alabama Crimson Tide, Hellams was unable to completely capitalize on a 2021 season in which he grabbed three interceptions, but despite a lower leg injury, he still led the team in tackles with 108, and added one more interception and five more pass breakups to his resume. Selected in the seventh round by the Falcons, Hellams has done a nice job through preseason games against the Dolphins and Bengals f transcending the scouting reports that insisted he was far more attuned to the box than the deep third. Hellams had interceptions in each game, and this one against the Bengals showed enough range and vision to make you think there’s enough to build on for an interesting future.


Hellams has recorded interceptions in both of Atlanta’s exhibition contests, and the Falcons coaching staff continues to rave about him.

“He shows up when the lights are on, just like he did at Alabama,” Smith said after the Bengals game. “He continues to find the football. He’s a good football player, and we’re going to continue to work on some other things, but it’s a good pattern to have two weeks in a row (where he’s) going and getting the ball.”

Micah Abernathy continues to get run with the second-team defense, but I doubt he will make the roster over Hellams. What’s more likely is both make the final 53-man roster. Regardless, the Falcons’ 2023 draft class looks to be a good one thus far.

Photographer: Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire

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