It’s a little premature to be awarding grades from the 2022 NFL Draft to the Atlanta Falcons or any other team. Actually, it’s way too early for draft grades.
But for what it’s worth, the Falcons received a lot of good to very good grades from draft experts.
The consensus among the five draft experts chosen for this article like that the Falcons added talented receiver Drake London, addressed the pass rush with edge players Arnold Ebiketie and and DeAngelo Malone and found value in quarterback Desmond Ridder.
The average grade the Falcons received from five draft analysts representing NFL.com, Sports Illustrated, Pro Football Focus, ESPN and USA Today was a B.
Four of the five analysts gave the Falcons at least a B-minus. Three of them handed the Falcons a grade of at least a B-plus.
Here are the individual grades from the five draft analysts.
“The combination of London and Kyle Pitts should give a needed boost to the Falcons’ passing game. General manager Terry Fontenot addressed the team’s other major need on Day 2, strengthening a poor pass rush with Ebiketie and Malone, while also landing an athletic second-level defender in Andersen and smartly nabbing a potential future starter in Ridder.
“Allgeier’s a solid pick but they could have met other needs with their first Day 3 selection. Shaffer lumbers a bit but can move the line of scrimmage. FitzPatrick wasn’t used enough at Georgia but has the potential to be a fine pass-catcher. Their defensive tackle group could use a strong undrafted free agent addition.”
“I think Drake London will be a really good NFL player, and maybe the Falcons have the capabilities to use him right now. Both Marcus Mariota and Ridder are on-time throwers who succeed more regularly with a defined system. But London can reward quarterbacks who can buy themselves time, re-set and throw the deep ball, which Mariota and Ridder can both do. Ridder was especially impressive in finding more time within tight spaces. The Falcons’ offensive skill position set reminds me a bit of the middle years of Cam Newton’s time with the Patriots. Most of the weapons are taller with a larger catch radius and can dominate mismatches. Ebiketie has a heavy first punch and while his own momentum can be used against him sometimes, he is an example of the depth of this edge-rushing class.”
“The Falcons receiving corps badly needed an infusion of talent, and London should provide a nice boost. A lot has been made about his ability to separate because of how much of his production came in contested-catch situations (FBS-high 17 contested catches in 2021). But that’s not all he brings to the table — he can create separation underneath, and he was productive after the catch for the Trojans. His 22 missed tackles forced after the catch last year — in just eight games before injury — is a top-five mark in this class.
“Ridder was seen as a fringe first-round quarterback, but the NFL evidently doesn’t like this class. He is a steal at No. 74 overall. He has the best processing of any of this year’s quarterbacks and boasts legitimate speed and athleticism with a solid arm. His accuracy is an issue (adjusted completion rate of just 72% for his career), but he has real starting potential on a team with no long-term starter in place.”
“With Calvin Ridley suspended for the season, have you taken a look at the Falcons’ wide receiver depth chart? It’s not good, probably the worst in the league. And oh yeah, they traded away the best quarterback in their franchise’s history, with Matt Ryan headed to Indianapolis for a third-round pick. I don’t know if this is a full rebuild for coach Arthur Smith & Co., but it’s at least a reset on offense, and it’s not like this defense is littered with stars, either.
“That reset on offense starts with a new No. 1 receiver in Drake London (8), a 6-foot-4 weapon who will make life easier for his quarterback. I’m a big fan of London, who will be great in the red zone and is a sweet fit in the same offense as dynamic tight end Kyle Pitts. How are teams going to cover both in the red zone?
“I thought the Falcons had one of the best Day 2s in the league. Quarterback Desmond Ridder (74) looked at times in college like a future All-Pro and at other times an undrafted free agent. He is my fourth-ranked signal-caller, but I thought he’d go in Round 2. I wouldn’t be surprised if he started a handful of games as a rookie and wrested the job away from Marcus Mariota. Arnold Ebiketie (38) is an underrated edge rusher. Troy Andersen (58) is a fit I projected to Atlanta in my two-round mock draft a few weeks ago. DeAngelo Malone (82) can get early third-down snaps as a situational edge rusher. On Day 3, running back Tyler Allgeier (151) doesn’t have a ton of straight-line speed, but I expect him to make the team because of his toughness.
“What drops this class slightly is that I would have taken Malik Willis over Ridder, but this is still a really good group.”
“Considering how important this draft likely is to their anticipated resurrection – including less-than-face-value picks they got for WR Julio Jones (2nd) and QB Matt Ryan (3rd) – the results feel a little … meh? WR Drake London at No. 8 might be the next Mike Evans, moving the chains and terrorizing the red zone. But he’s unlikely to be a game breaker, and those kind of receivers seemed to be on the table. And there simply appear to be a lot of bets on upside here with a one-year wonder like Penn State DE Arnold Ebiketie and mid-rounders lacking Power Five bona fides. One was QB Desmond Ridder. Maybe the Cincinnati star blossoms while marinating behind Marcus Mariota … or maybe he becomes part of a roster that may still lack the foundational pieces it really needed to add.”