Like most NFL fifth-round picks, the Falcons’ selections range from never playing in a game to top talent at their position. I will compose the list based on games played and productivity since being in Atlanta. The recent draft selections have not quite had the opportunity to assess their productivity like older players, but with a smaller sample size, we can predict how they will produce in the future.
18. Marquis Spruill (2014)
Coming out of Syracuse, Spruill was expected to play behind Paul Worrilow, Sean Weatherspoon and Akeem Dent. He was a surefire special teams’ contributor and possibly a future replacement on defense until he ruptured his ACL in his rookie season. He never played a game for Atlanta and was released in August of the following year.
17. Bradie Ewing (2012)
A Wisconsin alumnus, Ewing played fullback for the Falcons until 2013. Tearing his ACL in August of his rookie year, his first game was the following year against the Saints. He recorded only a single catch that day. The following week, against the St. Louis Rams, Ewing separated his shoulder, thus landing him on injured reserve for a second straight year. After being waived by Atlanta in 2014, he was claimed by Jacksonville then landed on the IR again. He retired from the league in 2015.
16. Kerry Meier (2010)
Meier was a superb athlete in college at Kansas, playing quarterback and receiver before his four years were up. Drafted as a wide receiver, he spent his entire rookie year on IR after he injured his knee in the preseason against the New England Patriots. During the 2012 season, he played in 12 games as a special team’s contributor, not recording a single catch. Subsequently, he was placed on waivers in April of 2013.
15. Robert James (2008)
James was a special teams contributor at most. He bounced from the practice squad and the active roster his entire time with the Falcons until his final departure following the 2013 preseason. Then he was claimed and released within a week from the Baltimore Ravens. Later that 2013 season, Kansas City signed James, where he appeared in the team’s wild-card loss to the Colts. He was released following the season.
14. William Middleton (2009)
Middleton was waived by the Falcons the same year he was drafted then was re-signed to the practice squad in 2009. He also played for the Buccaneers, Jaguars, and Chargers, but never more than a bubble player on the roster.
13. Dominique Franks (2010)
Thus far on the list, Franks was the most highly touted prospect coming out of college. He played in 52 games for the Falcons, mostly on special teams and in sub-packages on defense. Franks never started a full season and was released in 2014. After being waived and signed multiple times by the Baltimore Ravens, he tried his hand in the Fall Experimental Football League.
12. Garrett Reynolds (2009)
Reynolds was a solid contributor for the team from 2009 until his release in 2014. He was then signed by the Lions, where he started in four games. Bouncing to the Rams next, he started 11 games for Los Angeles.
11. Stansly Maponga (2013)
Maponga was a special team’s contributor until 2015 when he was cut and signed to the practice squad. This started a long tenure on the practice squad, where he stayed until 2018 with four different teams.
10. Jonathan Massaquoi (2012)
Massaquoi was also a special team’s contributor and backup linebacker for the Falcons until his release from the team in 2015. He was then signed and waived by the Titans and Chiefs until he played in both the AAF and XFL.
9. Eric Saubert (2017)
Saubert produced the most of any fifth-round selections on the list thus far. He competed with Levine Toilolo and Austin Hooper his rookie year and ended third on the depth chart. He played in 14 games that season, then all 16 the following year, even starting one. After that, he was traded to the New England Patriots for a conditional seventh-round pick, the first to have some compensation back for his selection.
8. Jordan Miller (2019)
It might be too early to tell on Miller, but he impressed coaches and teammates his rookie year as a special team’s player. However, he was suspended for a violation of PEDs in December of his rookie year. At most, Miller will be a star on special teams and role player in defensive sub-packages.
7. Brian Hill (2017)
Hill didn’t even play for Atlanta until 2018. He spent 2017 in Cincinnati, where he had limited production and was then signed in 2018 to the practice squad. Eventually, Hill made the active roster, finishing the season with 20 carries for 157 rushing yards. In 2019, he appeared in 12 games and finished with 323 rushing yards and two touchdowns. This past March, the Falcons placed an original-round restricted free agent tender on him.
6. Qadree Ollison (2019)
As a rookie, Ollison appeared in eight games carrying the ball 22 times for 50 yards and four touchdowns. He is a short-yardage bruiser, who could eventually be a redzone specialist for the team.
5. Jacquizz Rodgers (2011)
Rodgers was a productive backup and third-down running back for Atlanta from his rookie year until his contract ended after the 2014 season. During his time with the Falcons, he rushed 305 times for 1,116 yards and five touchdowns. He was more dangerous in the pass-game, where he caught 155 balls for 1,104 yards and five touchdowns. Rodgers played in the league for four more years with the Bears and the Bucs.
4. Damontae Kazee (2017)
Most of Kazee’s opportunities were brought on by injuries. Originally competing for the nickel back role against Brian Poole, he quickly moved to free safety. In 2018, he was thrust into the starting strong safety position after Keanu Neal went down with a season-ending knee injury. Kazee finished the season third on the team with 82 tackles and tied for the league lead with seven interceptions.
3. Kroy Biermann (2008)
Biermann is the longest-tenured Falcon on this list, playing all seven seasons with the team. He appeared in 114 games, starting in 37 of them, and racked up 23.5 sacks in his career with the team. Biermann earned a new contract in 2015 after recovering from a torn Achilles tendon and led the team with four and a half sacks. He recorded 55 tackles, two and a half sacks, and one forced fumble in his final year with the Falcons.
2. Ricardo Allen (2014)
Ricardo Allen was promoted to the active roster in 2014 after Robert Alford was sent to the IR. He went on to start in 64 games from 2015 to 2019 and was handsomely rewarded for his journey, signing a three-year, $19.5 million extension.
1. Grady Jarrett (2015)
There’s no questioning the #1 spot. Jarrett is coming off a career-year, where he graded out as elite, according to Pro Football Focus, earning his first Pro-Bowl appearance and a Second-Team All-Pro selection. Jarrett was extended last offseason and has three more years left on his contract. He will be the anchor of the Falcons defense for years to come.