NFL.com took the unenviable task of ranking all-32 2021 NFL Draft classes including the Atlanta Falcons headlined by Pro Bowl tight end Kyle Pitts.
Pitts carried the Falcons class to a No. 15 ranking by Gennaro Filice & Nick Shook of NFL.com, the highest in the NFC South.
Falcons 2021 NFL Draft Picks:
(No. 4 overall) Kyle Pitts, TE
(40) Richie Grant, S
(68) Jalen Mayfield, OG
(108) Darren Hall, CB
(114) Drew Dalman, OG/OC
(148) Ta’Quon Graham, DL
(182) Ade Ogundeji, Edge
(183) Avery Williams, CB
(187) Frank Darby, WR
“Despite Atlanta’s struggles, Pitts lived up to the pre-draft hype,” writes Shook. “The tight end shredded defenses, catching 68 passes for 1,026 yards and earning a spot on the Pro Football Writers of America All-Rookie Team. The only lowlight: He scored just one touchdown in 2021. Pitts will be an essential part of Atlanta’s offense for years to come, well after Matt Ryan walks away from football.”
The Falcons traded back in the second-round and took safety Richie Grant, and used the extra pick they got from the Denver Broncos to select Drew Dalman in the fourth round. Grant was disappointing as a rookie as Shook notes.
“Grant didn’t start a single game in 2021, playing a supplementary role that underwhelmed, considering his 40th overall selection.”
Jalen Mayfied was taken in the the third round, and while he started 16 games for the Falcons, he was one of the worst offensive linemen in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus. He graded 77th out of 83 eligible guards and had the worst pass blocking grade in the NFL.
Ta’Quon Graham and Ade Ogundeji were also forced into starting roles and provided great value for fifth-round picks, and the Falcons hope they can continue to improve while looking to upgrade the front seven through the 2022 draft and free agency.
The 2022 NFL Draft class isn’t considered to be as strong in the top 10 as classes past (especially last year), but there is depth on both sides of the lines of scrimmage.
The Falcons have four of the top 74 picks in April’s draft (8, 43, 58, and 74) and could go a long way towards addressing their weaknesses on the offensive and defensive lines.