This article will not make fun of the Atlanta Falcons for passing on Harrison High School alum and Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields. However, despite a vocal portion of the fan base grumbling for a new face at quarterback, new general manager Terry Fontenot and new head coach Arthur Smith successfully filled the needs of the roster, while, for now, keeping current quarterback Matt Ryan and all-world wide receiver Julio Jones happy.
With the fourth pick, the Falcons selected Kyle Pitts. The tight end from the University of Florida is the best non-quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft. He did not drop a pass last year for the Gators. He singlehandedly dominated the Alabama defense in the 2020 SEC Championship game. He was unguardable. Pitts recorded 43 receptions for 770 yards (17.9 avg.) and 12 touchdowns in eight games last season, earning unanimous first-team All-America honors and the Mackey Award – given to college football’s most outstanding tight end. Coupled with Calvin Ridley, Jones, and second tight-end Hayden Hurst, Pitts could potentially challenge for NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year.
In round two, the Falcons selected safety Richie Grant from Central Florida. The six-foot, 194-pound safety from UCF tallied 291 tackles, 29 pass breakups, 10 interceptions, 11.5 tackles for loss, and seven forced fumbles in four seasons. In 2020, Grant started nine of 10 games – including eight starts at safety – and registered 72 tackles, three interceptions, two fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and one QB hit. Pro Football Focus rated Grant as the best safety in run support.
In round three, the Falcons drafted Jalen Mayfield from Michigan. In 18 games, the Michigan-native only allowed two sacks. When describing Mayfield, Fontenot said Jalen is a big, massive man.
“He’s athletic, versatile. He’s smart, tough, competitive. Again, another guy that we’re excited about what he’s going to bring on the offensive line,” Fontenot said.
San Diego State defensive back Darren Hall was selected in the fourth round (108th overall) of the 2021 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-0, 190-pound defensive back recorded 134 total tackles (101 solo), 31 passes defensed, six interceptions, 7.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles in four seasons (2017-20) for the Aztecs. He has the ability to play in the slot, play in the free safety or rover role, and could challenge Kendall Sheffield and Isaiah Oliver to play the other corner opposite AJ Terrell.
The Falcons selected Stanford offensive lineman Drew Dalman in the fourth round in the 2021 NFL Draft with the 114th selection. The 6-foot-3, 295-pound offensive lineman started 22 of 25 games (20 at center, two at guard) over three seasons (2018-20) for the Cardinal. He will have to get bigger, however as a son of an NFL player and coach, Chris Dalman, Drew has the technique to play center in the NFL, eventually.
Defensive tackle Ta’Quon Graham from the University of Texas with the 148th pick. He played in 12 games as a reserve as a true freshman (six tackles, two for loss, with one sack), then got two starts the following season while playing in 14 contests in total (12 tackles, two for loss). Graham started in all 13 games in 2019, allowing him to post 31 tackles, 12 for loss, with 3.5 sacks. Big 12 coaches voted him honorable mention all-conference his senior year (23 tackles, seven for loss, with two sacks). If there is a comparable that can be made, it would be Gerald McCoy. Graham has a great get-off at the line. He was primarily a three-technique and a five-technique in the Longhorns’ 3-4 defensive scheme.
Adetokunbo Ogundeji (pronounced ah-DAY-tok-uhn-bo oh-gun-day-gee), a defensive end from Notre Dame was selected with the 182nd pick in round 5. He led the Fighting Irish in sacks last year and in the win against Clemson, he gave Trevor Lawrence all night long. The Falcons were near the bottom in sacks last year and couldn’t mount a consistent pass rush.
With the 183rd pick, the Falcons selected cornerback Avery Williams out of Boise State. In 2020, the Associated Press named Williams a third-team All-American as an all-purpose player because he led the FBS in combined return yardage (19-533-28.1 kick returns, 15-229-15.3 punt returns), topped the country with two punt return touchdowns, and tied for the national lead with two kick return touchdowns. He also tied for fifth in the FBS with two blocked kicks. However, Williams was a 14-game starter on defense in 2019 (39 tackles, 1.5 for loss, four pass breakups). Williams was a first-team pick as a cornerback in 2020 (19 tackles, two for loss, one pass breakup in seven games, six starts.) With him being only 5’8″, Williams will likely play as a special teamer at the outset, which is never a bad thing.
In round 6, the Falcons selected wide receiver Frank Darby out of Arizona State. While many draft prognosticators questioned why the Falcons would pick a receiver when Russell Gage, Calvin Ridley, and Julio Jones are already on the roster, plus Kyle Pitts and Hayden Hurst; Darby arrives to Atlanta NFL ready, thanks to Sun Devils bead Coach and former Jets and Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards. However,