PFF has released their pre-draft power rankings, and although they aren’t high on the Falcons, another aspect of the evaluation caught my eye:
NFL Power Rankings before the NFL Drafthttps://t.co/rovtAsZT8X
— PFF (@PFF) April 3, 2023
PFF has the Falcons clocking in at 27th, which I think is low, but not totally unfair. However, the rationale didn’t make much sense to me:
27. ATLANTA FALCONS
• Biggest loss: QB Marcus Mariota
• Biggest gain: S Jessie Bates III
The Falcons signed one of the best safeties in the league in Jessie Bates III. His 72.6 PFF coverage grade over the past two seasons ranks 30th among safeties, but when you factor in the impressive 2020 season, his three-year PFF coverage grade of 90.5 trails only Kevin Byard of the Tennessee Titans and Marcus Williams of the Baltimore Ravens.
The Falcons’ safety room finished 26th in the league in PFF grade last season, so this is a much-needed upgrade.
I would argue “losing” Mariota is a positive — he didn’t play well, and by all accounts, essentially quit on the team. Ridder was just as good as him over the final four games, and there’s room for exponential improvement in his second season. The former Cincinnati quarterback is an upgrade, not a downgrade from what the Falcons had last year, even if it is not by much.
Isaiah Oliver was easily the biggest loss for this team. Regardless, power rankings are a nothing-burger. I’m a bit of a wet blanket when it comes to the Falcons, but they are far from a bottom five team in the NFL in terms of roster talent right now, and their coaching is also an advantage. Atlanta won seven games last season with arguably the least-talented roster in football. They will be much better this year and should challenge for a weak NFC South crown.
Photographer: Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire
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