Since Thomas Dimitroff took over the reins as GM of the Atlanta Falcons, there has been no shortage of wheeling and dealing picks come draft day. For that reason, the Dirtybirds have only had eight second-round selections over the last 12 years, and while there has been the occasional slam dunk, there have been far more flops in this round — a primary reason why the Falcons have been unable to sustain success from season to season.
7. Ra’Shede Hageman (2014)/Jalen Collins (2015)
Ra’Shede Hageman and Jalen Collins deserve to bring up the rear of this list for similar reasons. Both were drafted early in the second round due to their projectability in the NFL. Hageman was a massive defensive tackle out of the University of Minnesota, and Collins was a long corner from LSU that fit perfectly into Dan Quinn’s scheme. They each played a role in helping the Falcons to the Super Bowl but fell out of favor with the team because of off the field issues the following offseason.
Hageman was placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List due to a domestic violence charge, eventually leading to his release, and Collins was suspended for the first ten games of the 2017 season for violating the league’s PED policy, which was the final straw for him in Atlanta. Hageman’s case was eventually dropped, and the Falcons brought him back before last season, but it was short-lived. He was suspended for the first two games of the season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy and was once again let go by the Falcons.
6. Peter Konz (2012)
Konz was viewed as a tremendous get by the Falcons in the second round of the 2012 Draft but never lived up to his billing as the top center in his class. He did start 28 games over three years in Atlanta but was not productive and eventually was released before the 2015 season, never playing in the NFL again.
5. Curtis Lofton (2008)
Lofton was the first second-round pick of the Thomas Dimitroff regime and was productive in his four-year career with Atlanta. Perhaps he would be even higher on this list had he not left for New Orleans once he became a free agent. However, while with the Falcons, Lofton started in 63 out of the 64 games, consistently leading the team in tackles as the middle linebacker. He went on to start in all 48 games over the next three seasons for the Saints before moving to Oakland for the final year of his career in 2015.
4. Isaiah Oliver (2018)
Perhaps putting Isaiah Oliver over Curtis Lofton after just two seasons is a bit premature, but after the way he finished last season, I’m confident he will have a better career in Atlanta, as he will most likely be relied on as the team’s #1 corner in year three after the release of Desmond Trufant. “The Blanket”, as he is now referred to, thrived once Raheem Morris took over in the secondary, and that confidence was the missing link to his success. For those Falcons fans that are still a bit lukewarm on this pick, that will all change during the 2020 season.
3. William Moore (2009)
Moore had an up and down Falcons career, mostly due to injuries. He only played in two games as a rookie but became the full-time starter at strong safety in 2010 and was named to the Pro-Bowl in 2012, despite playing in just 12 games. However, missing a total of 14 games combined in 2014 and 2015 spelled an end to his time in Atlanta and his career for that matter. In total, he started in 72 games for the Falcons, tallying 16 interceptions and 274 combined tackles.
2. Robert Alford (2013)
One of my favorite Falcons, Robert Alford, delivered probably the most memorable play in franchise history, picking off Tom Brady in the Super Bowl and taking it to the house, extending the lead to 18 just before halftime. Unfortunately, that play will never be remembered as it should, but every fan recalls the chills that came from such a moment. Alford may have not received the credit he deserved because he was often too handsy and had a tendency to get beat for big plays, but he is still the second-best corner the Falcons have drafted this past decade and spent five years as a starter on the outside. For his career in Atlanta, he recorded 85 passes defended and ten interceptions in 76 starts. Last offseason, the Falcons decided to part ways with him, and he signed a three-year deal with Arizona, but unfortunately, never played in a game after breaking his leg before the start of the season.
1. Deion Jones (2016)
There may be some debate about this list, but there shouldn’t be any about the #1 spot. Among several underwhelming names, Deion Jones sticks out like a sore thumb. He is the primary reason for the defensive turnaround in 2016 and played a considerable role in leading the Falcons to the Super Bowl. By year two, Jones was a Pro-Bowler, recording 138 combined tackles, including ten that went for a loss and three interceptions. Unfortunately, his 2018 campaign was cut short after he suffered a foot fracture in Week 1, but that did not stop the Falcons from extending him before the 2019 season. Jones is now under contract for the next four years and will be an integral part in the middle of Atlanta’s defense as one of the best linebackers in the game.