Trio of Falcons make PFF’s Top 25 under 25

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The Falcons are finally over the hump. After dealing with a messy salary cap situation the past two seasons, the new regime has finally wiped the slate clean, moving on from Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, among other overpriced veterans.

It was the first offseason in quite some time that Atlanta was able to participate in the free agent market without any restrictions. The club swung lucrative multi-year deals with Jessie Bates III, Kaden Elliss, and David Onyemata, bolstering each level of the defense, along with other worthwhile free agent additions like Calais Campbell.

However, free agency isn’t how you build the bones of a roster. Drafting and developing will always be the most reliable way to build a sustainably winning organization, and the Falcons have forged their own path, selecting three skill position players with three straight top 10 picks. Kyle Pitts, Drake London, and Bijan Robinson will be the engine that makes Atlanta’s offense go.

Despite never playing a snap in the NFL, many would likely consider Robinson one of the most talented youngsters in the league, but we don’t have to wonder with Pitts and London. We already know, and so does Trevor Sikkema of PFF, who had both on his top 25 under 25 list as well as A.J. Terrell:

20. WR DRAKE LONDONATLANTA FALCONS

As a rookie, London became the focal point of the Falcons’ passing attack. He finished 2022 with an 85.3 receiving grade, which ranked second only to Garrett Wilson among rookies. London had 14 contested catches with an impressive 53.8% contested catch percentage. He also posted a 27.2% wide receive usage rate in the offense, which shows the team placed a lot of trust in the rookie. That should continue moving forward.

21. TE KYLE PITTSATLANTA FALCONS

The narrative around Pitts makes it difficult to appropriately rank him among the other young players in the league. The expectations around Pitts were that he was going to be one of the greatest tight ends we’ve ever seen the week he was drafted. He finished his rookie season with an 82.3 receiving grade and more than 1,000 receiving yards. This past year, he earned just a 76.6 receiving grade, albeit in an injury-shortened season. He dealt with hamstring injuries early in the year and tore his MCL in Week 11. A healthy Pitts still has one of the highest ceilings of any tight end.

22. CB A.J. TERRELLATLANTA FALCONS

Terrell’s 2021 season was spectacular. He recorded an 85.6 coverage grade with just 29 catches and 200 receiving yards allowed. He also recorded 15 forced incompletions and three interceptions. This past season was much more of a struggle, however, as Terrell earned a 61.8 coverage grade. The Falcons’ defense as a whole was not up to par, especially in the front seven, which makes coverage a tough job. With more talent around him this year, we’ll get a better feel for what to expect of Terrell moving forward.

It won’t be long before Bijan Robinson joins the trio on this list, and nobody should be surprised if Pitts and London fly up this list next year. Terrell will turn 25 years old in September, making him ineligible for next year. For those wondering, Chris Lindstrom is too old to be on this list as well.

The offense should improve with Desmond Ridder under center, so Pitts and London should see an uptick in production. By this time next year, I expect to have three Falcons again represented, with Robinson taking Terrell’s place.

Photographer: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

 

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