Falcons: Ranking the draft picks of the Smith-Fontenot regime

DKB221002042 cle vs atl

So far, we only have two drafts to judge from the new regime. They’ve made some good picks, along with some questionable ones. In the 2021 draft, the Falcons passed on some talented players in favor of guys who could contribute on special teams and fill out the roster. They’ve had mixed results.

Regardless, the Falcons have made 16 picks, and I’m here to rank the 14 we have had a look at so far. I’ll be ranking these players based on what they have contributed right now — this will not consider future projection. Additionally, I’ll be trying to avoid the “what ifs”. I’ll be here for hours doing that. I preferred Justin Fields over Kyle Pitts, but that’s something I’m not going to consider for this exercise. I will, however, be considering draft position. A “gem” will get a bump in the rankings, and a guy taken later who hasn’t panned out will be graded less harshly. Let’s get started!


Tier 5: Inconclusive

IOL Justin Shaffer — Georgia (2022 Round 6, Pick 190)

TE John FitzPatrick — Georgia (2022 Round 6, Pick 213)

Much to the dismay of many Georgia fans, we haven’t seen much of these guys. Shaffer was put on the practice squad, and FitzPatrick is just now recovering from an injury. This didn’t factor into the rankings, but Jamaree Salyer has been fantastic as a plug-and-play starter for the Chargers. Unfortunately, the Falcons picked the guy to his right. I still think Shaffer has upside, as does FitzPatrick with his ability as a blocking tight end. These guys aren’t technically ranked here — it would just be unfair to them.


Tier 4: Not Looking Good

14. IOL Jalen Mayfield — Michigan (2021 Round 3, Pick 68)

13. WR Frank Darby — Arizona State (2021 Round 6, Pick 187)

12. EDGE Adetokunbo Ogundeji — Notre Dame (2021 Round 5, Pick 182)

I’m not going to pile on Jalen Mayfield any further; it has been done enough, but he looks like he may not have a future in Atlanta beyond this season. Frank Darby has yet to make an impact in a pretty bad wide receiver room, and Ogundeji has made a pretty minimal impact. Both guys could carve out futures as rotational pieces if they make the 2023 roster after what looks to be an offseason where the Falcons are going to spend big.


Tier 3: Still Developing, But Showing Promise

11. EDGE DeAngelo Malone — Western Kentucky (2022 Round 3, Pick 82)

10. S Richie Grant — UCF (2021 Round 2, Pick 40)

9. LB Troy Andersen — Montana State (2022 Round 2, Pick 58)

These guys are similar to the inconclusive tier. It’s too late to write them off, but they have either been dealt a bad hand or I want to see them play more before drawing conclusions. I like what little I’ve seen out of Malone so far; he can be a solid rotational pass rusher. Richie Grant isn’t a bad player, but he didn’t make a lot of the strides I wanted to see this year. He can still be a good rotational guy. I didn’t expect Troy Andersen to get much burn this year, but I think his best football is ahead of him.


Tier 2: Solid Building Blocks

8. RB Avery Williams — Boise State (2021 Round 5, Pick 183)

7. CB Darren Hall — San Diego State (2021 Round 4, Pick 108)

6. DL Ta’Quon Graham — Texas (2021 Round 5, Pick 148)

5. QB Desmond Ridder — Cincinnati (2022 Round 3, Pick 74)

4. EDGE Arnold Ebiketie — Penn State (2022 Round 2, Pick 38)

The rankings here are a little less important. Any of these guys could have a massive offseason and make huge strides. You’re splitting hairs at this point. Additionally, the 2022 players have had a lot less times to prove themselves. Avery Williams is one of the better special teams options in the entire NFL; his career arc is starting to get very interesting. Darren Hall has been pretty good after being pushed out to the boundary, and I’m excited to see his progression next year. He has been huge against the run. Ta’Quon Graham can absolutely be a rotational piece on the defensive line, even if the Falcons add a few guys in free agency, and Arnold Ebiketie has shown enough to prove he can be a part of this Falcons pass rush going forward. Desmond Ridder was the hardest guy to rank. I wanted to put him in the next tier, but from what I have seen so far, I think he’s a serviceable backup at worst. He was a solid pick for the value in the third round. As I’m sure you have noticed, the Falcons have found a few gems on day three of the draft. They’ll need to continue to do so as they rebuild a thin roster.


Tier 1: Potential Franchise Pieces

3. WR Drake London — USC (2022 Round 1, Pick 8)

2. TE Kyle Pitts — Florida (2021 Round 1, Pick 4)

1. RB Tyler Allgeier — BYU (2022 Round 5, Pick 151)

Well, the good news is the Falcons have hit on their first round picks. The bad news is that there’s only one non-first rounder here. The Kyle Pitts “bust” talk is fantasy football nonsense; he’s still an impact player that I’m excited to see with a new quarterback when he gets healthy. He had 1,000 yards receiving as a rookie , and that’s worthy of the second spot. Drake London has had some fumbling issues, but he has made some amazing catches and looks the part of a franchise wide receiver. I’m giving Tyler Allgeier the top spot here. He was a fifth round pick and is already one of the better running backs in the league as a rookie. He’s over 1,000 all purpose yards, and looks to be the bell-cow power running back the Falcons have been looking for since Devonta Freeman left town. Cordarrelle Patterson and Allgeier create a really solid duo in the backfield, and I think he’s the best pick this regime has made so far.

Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: