After the dust has settled on the first-ever virtual NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons have drafted several players as head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff seek to improve on their 7-9 record. Both Dimitroff and Quinn’s jobs are on the line due to the Falcons’ systemic decline after their Super Bowl LI appearance in the 2016 season.
With the 16th pick in the first round, Atlanta selected cornerback A.J. Terrell, 6’1″, 195, out of Clemson. Terrell, a Westlake High School graduate, is perfect in the Quinn scheme, because of his range, speed, and ideal size.
“A.J. Terrell is the Deshaun Watson of this group, and what I mean by that is he’s a Deshaun Watson at a different position,” said Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney. “The reason I say that — and this is what I’ve told everybody — is his consistency. He’s handled himself like a pro since the day he got here as far as his maturity, his love of preparation, his mindset, and the type of teammate he is. He’s got unique intangibles to go along with a rare skillset for his position.”
On the 2nd day of the draft, the Falcons selected defensive end Marlon Davidson out of Auburn. At 6’3″, 303, he is a big and physical defender who by his own account enjoys punishing anyone with the ball. Quinn says that Davidson will likely play defensive tackle on this defense.
“I can do it all,” Davidson said early in his introductory conference call with Atlanta media. “Coming from off the edge, I can do whatever move you want me to. I just feel like I’m that type of athlete. I feel like I’m that type of player — when I step on the field, I feel like I’m the best. Going to get the best out of me every snap.”
“I instill confidence. I instill passion. I instill heart,” Davidson continued. “I instill everything you want in a football player as a man and everything. That’s me. I mean, I wake up every day thinking about being the best. I woke up at four o’clock this morning and couldn’t go to sleep because I was mad because I didn’t go first round. I’m waking up at four o’clock. I ain’t been asleep all day, man. I’ve been waiting on this call and I got it and now I’m going to give everything I can to the organization. I’m going to give everything I possibly can and leave everything on the field, every game, and show that they did not mess up by picking Marlon Davidson at all; they didn’t.”
— The Atlanta Voice (@theatlantavoice) April 25, 2020
In the 3rd Round the Falcons selected Matt Hennessy, center out of Temple. The former Owl is 6’4″, 307, and is very versatile. He could push Jaron Brown and James Carpenter at guard and might start, depending on the performances of Brown and Carpenter.
On the third and final day of the draft, Atlanta would select linebacker Mykal Walker, 6’3″, 230, out of Fresno State, addressing a need with the loss of De’Vondre Campbell in the 4th round. Walker is a very versatile linebacker with both tackling and coverage skills. Also, in the 4th round, the Falcons would select another defender, Jaylinn Hawkins, 6’1″, 208-pound safety from Cal-Berkley. He is another defender with good size and tackling ability that will provide depth in the secondary.
The Falcons would not have another pick until the 7th round, and they took Punter Sterling Hofrichter from Syracuse to round out the 2020 draft class. With a good combination of need and talent-based picks, it will be interesting to see how the franchise will implement these players into the mix while there is so much uncertainty in player schedule amid the COVID-19 Pandemic.
After an active free agency, where the likes of defensive end Dante’ Fowler, running back Todd Gurley, and tight end Hayden Hurst were added but the team would lose running back Devonta Freeman, tight end Austin Hooper, defensive end Vic Beasley, and cornerback Desmond Trufant, the Falcons hope to have an eclectic mix of talent and need-based players.