What will be the role of each Falcons rookie?

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The Falcons 2021 draft class won’t have a game-changing impact outside of a couple of first-year players. The new regime has clearly emphasized not only rookies but all players earning their playing time; every single member of the 2021 rookie class was buried on the team’s first depth chart. Higher-drafted guys will have a bigger role in the team’s plans going forward, while some will be in a pseudo-redshirt rookie year.

Kyle Pitts

Pitts is obviously the name to watch here. He’s going to be featured in the offense in a bevy of ways — in motion, split out wide, in the slot, and in line. I wouldn’t be surprised if Pitts exceeds 100 targets easily because he will be much more than a traditional tight end. This offense will one day revolve around Pitts if it isn’t already. His role will be Ryan’s safety outlet and, eventually, his go-to receiver.

Richie Grant

I envisioned Grant starting the moment he stepped on the field, but things are developing differently. Grant’s role will likely be limited to nickel and dime packages, given his immense positional flexibility — able to play in a split safety look, single-high, in the slot, or in the box — until he can upend one of Duron Harmon or Erik Harris for a starting job. Grant’s development will be exponential, so his role will become bigger and bigger as the season progresses. Arthur Smith noted that Grant has been working hard, and he was very impressed with him.

Jalen Mayfield

Mayfield’s role depends on how the left guard battle shakes out. He could either be a starting member of this offensive line or a depth piece. Eventually, the former third-overall pick will be named the starter because of his upside over Josh Andrews. At that point, his role will be to mash people in the run game while learning from Jake Matthews and Chris Lindstrom in his pass sets. His only job will be to protect Matt Ryan and consistently improve his pass blocking.

Darren Hall

Hall will likely be the highest-drafted depth piece of this rookie class. Even though on a recent episode of Talkin’ Birdy Scott Bair noted that Darren Hall had been all over the field making plays, he has a long way to go to become a starter. He can compete for snaps at nickel and can play a safety-corner role in this defense, which bodes well for his path to playing time. He played well in the preseason, and his quickest way to the field will likely be to solidify his position as the dime defensive back.

Drew Dalman

Barring some unexpected improvements, Dalman will be a backup at both guard and center — a swing, interior lineman.

Ta’Quon Graham

With injuries to John Cominsky and Marlon Davidson, Graham will have an opportunity to get valuable reps against starters and second-stringers in the joint practices and preseason game against Miami. More than likely, he’ll play a role on special teams, but he’s still just a depth piece because of the interior defensive line depth.

Adetokunbo Ogundeji

Ogundeji is a beneficiary of a thin depth chart at outside linebacker. He’s taken advantage of the opportunity given with Dante Fowler missing a couple of weeks due to COVID-19 and looked impressive in his snaps during the Titans game. He uses his incredible length in both run and pass-rushing situations, and eventually, he could take over the starting job opposite of Fowler. Right now, his role is to be a rotational defender along this defensive front.

Avery Williams

Williams had an impressive debut against the Titans, where he played on the boundary. He’s still gunning for the punt returning job where he’s battling Austin Trammel and Chris Rowland. The ability to play boundary cornerback greatly improved his trajectory as an NFL player, but his role right now will be on special teams.

Frank Darby

Darby has had a quiet training camp and first preseason game, but that is expected with how poorly the offense performed. His position on the roster is much less solidified than originally thought. Right now, his role is just to make the 53-man and provide some value on special teams.

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