Grading the Falcons 2020 rookie class

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Like most of us, the Falcons would like to forget 2020 ever occurred. The season was chaos from start to finish, and before we even got to Week 6, general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn were fired. Raheem Morris did a respectable job in interim, but the Falcons still went 4-7 over their last eleven games, featuring more blowing leads and close losses. However, there was one positive that came out of last year, at least it seems that way so far — the 2020 rookie class. Unfortunately, one class of just six people isn’t enough to make up for years of incompetence by the front office and coaching staff.

AJ Terrell

Final Grade: B

Terrell ended the year on a low not with three poor performances against the Bucs (twice) and the Chiefs. Still, especially considering all the criticism this pick, he possesses a ton of promise. Before those poor outing, he was PFF’s highest-graded rookie cornerback, and he still finished the season with a respectable grade of 60.8. I also had to bump this grade up a little higher because… where would this Falcons cornerback group be without Terrell? Isaiah Oliver has been as inconsistent as they come over his three seasons in the league, and Kendal Sheffield took significant steps back in his second year. Without Terrell, the Falcons would be scrambling to fix their secondary this offseason.

Marlon Davidson

Final Grade: N/A

Maybe I’m being too generous, but I think it would be a little unfair to judge the Falcons second-round selection based on his first-year performance. He was battling injuries from the get-go, only played in eight games, and in those eight games, he never played more than 40% of the defense’s snaps. I loved this pick when the Falcons made it and thought him and Grady Jarrett would become a nuisance in the middle of the defense line. Hopefully, he’s fully healthy in 2021, and we can get a better look at him, but for now, I’m going avoid grading him based on the limited action we saw from him this past season.

Matt Hennessy

Grade: C-

Hennessy is a guy we talked a ton about leading up to the draft, and I was giddy when we selected him. I thought he had the potential to be the Falcons future center, and I also thought he could compete with James Carpenter for the starting left guard job as a rookie. We will have to wait and see on the former, but the latter never came to fruition. Hennessy struggled when he saw the field at guard and at center. Alex Mack is likely to retire, and Raheem Morris called Hennessy the center of the future. We’ll see if the new regime thinks so, but right now, it’s a way too early to call him a bust.

Mykal Walker

Grade: B+

After one year, Mykal Walker is the prized-possession of this rookie class. He made PFF’s All-Rookie team and was ELITE in coverage all season. Walker still needs to work on his rush defense, but he solidified himself as a high-quality piece to this Falcons defense in his first. That’s about all you can ask for out of a fourth-round pick.

Jaylinn Hawkins

Grade: C+

The other fourth-round selection, Jaylinn Hawkins also impressed some in limited action. He was forced onto the field way earlier than expect, thanks to injuries, but I thought he looked very good against Green Bay when he had to start, racking up five tackles before exiting with a concussion. At the very least, Hawkins has shown enough thus far that he can be relied on as a backup in 2021, which is important given the Falcons could be losing Keanu Neal, Ricardo Allen, and Damontae Kazee this offseason.

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