This is the fourth installment of a series reviewing Terry Fontenot and Arthur Smith’s first draft class in Atlanta, which included a total of nine players. We’ll go chronologically through these draft picks in the order they were selected; next up is a Falcons’ fourth-round pick that has the potential of starting in 2022.
If you’ve missed any other installments, be sure to check them out!
Terry Fontenot addressed the secondary three different times in his first draft. Richie Grant was the first off the board, then Fontenot double-dipped by selecting Darren Hall, who was primarily used as a reserve player his rookie year. He played in 14 games, recording 27 tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack, and three pass deflections.
Though he mainly played on the boundary at San Diego State, Hall has played a little bit of everywhere for Dean Pees. When Isaiah Oliver went down with injury, the Falcons elected to fill the position with a committee — Hall, Grant, and even Avery Williams in some situations. Hall’s first NFL start came against the Bills in Week 17 when a rib injury sidelined Fabian Moreau.
He performed admirably against Buffalo and was apart of a defensive effort that held Josh Allen to just 120 passing yards and forced three interceptions, one of which Hall helped cause. As he bumped Cole Beasley off his route, Allen’s intended pass missed its mark and flew into the arms of A.J. Terrell. Of course, Hall had his struggles against the Bills, which Pees chalked up as being a rookie.
Pees knows how complex his defense can be, so it isn’t completely shocking that Grant and Hall have struggled a bit as they learn the system to begin their careers. Hall and the rest of the rookies will all likely take another step forward in 2022 just from not having to learn the defensive scheme, but also Hall, in particular, should benefit from a full offseason of strength and conditioning. His 190-pound frame isn’t quite where he’d like it to be, so Falcons fans can expect him to come into 2022 bigger.
The Falcons were a much better football team with Isaiah Oliver in the slot, but he’s set to hit free agency this offseason and is coming off a significant injury. With Hall taking 192 snaps in the nickel, it isn’t crazy to assume the coaching staff enters the 2022 season with him as the favorite to man the slot position to begin the season.
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