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Grading the 2020 Falcons Draft Class: Who’s joining the Brotherhood?

The first-ever virtual draft for the NFL has finally been completed, ladies and gentlemen. In a time where teams were adjusting to the work from home circumstances, 255 young men eagerly awaited being announced by Commissioner Roger Goodell live on ESPN or the NFL Network. For the Atlanta Falcons, they had six individuals on their draft board who will now transition into the virtual offseason programs. But how exactly are they when it comes to the scheme the team likes to run? It’s time to grade the Falcons 2020 draft class, folks. So let’s get into it:

Round One: CB AJ Terrell (16th overall)

Analysis: To most individuals, Atlanta “reached” for Terrell based on two factors: the reports that they were looking to trade up for either Jeff Okudah or CJ Henderson or they were remembering the last time they saw Terrell play. What game was that? The 2020 CFP National Championship, against the powerhouse that was LSU, led by Heisman winner (and future #1 overall pick) Joe Burrow. In said game, he was the latest defensive back to be victimized by the Tigers offense (150+ yards surrendered). However, what defender didn’t suffer a bad game against LSU last year? Plus, Terrell was in two CFP championship games, and what exactly did he do in the first one? Oh, that’s right- he picked off Tua Tagovailoa and returned it 44 yards for the opening points in Clemson’s rout of Alabama. Individuals with more scouting experience than myself will say Atlanta reached here. However, after Okudah and Henderson, nobody was a clear-cut #3 on big boards, so who knows? Personally, Atlanta needed to inject something into their CB depth after cutting Desmond Trufant, and I think they did so effectively. GRADE: B

Round Two: DT Marlon Davidson (47th overall)

Analysis: Davidson is an interesting selection because of the versatility he brings to the table. Mainly playing the edge at Auburn, sometimes he lined up on the interior next to teammate (and Panthers first-round selection) Derrick Brown, which allowed him to rush the quarterback and create 17 sacks over his career. He also added some fumble recoveries as well on the interior. Now he gets to pair up with a defensive front that features arguably the second or third-best interior player in Grady Jarrett and Dante Fowler, who the team signed to a three-year deal in free agency. Atlanta received a good value selection here with Davidson. GRADE: B+

Round Three: G/C Matt Hennessy (78th overall)

Analysis: I didn’t know what to think here considering the team drafted two offensive linemen last year. Then I looked deeper and realized something: this is a contract year for Alex Mack. Of course, Mack has proven himself over his career and has been an anchor for the Falcons offensive line since arriving in 2016. Getting to learn from someone like him will only be beneficial for Hennessy, and with the versatility he has in also having the ability to play guard, he could play at LG during the year and then transition to C once Mack decides to call it a career. A solid pick for the Falcons here. GRADE: B

Round Four: LB Mykal Walker (119th overall)

Analysis: After losing De’Vondre Campbell to the Cardinals, Atlanta didn’t have much depth at the linebacker position. They addressed such a need with this pick, which ironically comes four spots after they picked Campbell. A two-time first-team Mountain Conference selection, Walker is a guy who plays fast and strong. This is exactly how Dan Quinn likes his defense to be. Walker now gets a chance to learn from Deion Jones and Foyesade Oluokun, which should be beneficial to his growth. And if all goes well, he could eventually fill Campbell’s role nicely. GRADE: B

Round Four: S Jaylinn Hawkins (139th overall)

Analysis: Beginning his career at cornerback, Hawkins transitioned to safety and performed optimally after the change. Given his size (6’2″, 210lbs.), he can assist Keanu Neal as a box safety when Neal needs a rest. He also recorded 10 interceptions in his career. Because of the safety position being problematic as of late, Atlanta needed some more depth for Ricardo Allen and Neal. While Hawkins most likely will be on special teams early, he could come in occasionally and make some plays in relief. The same thing happened with Damontae Kazee, and now he’s a decent contributor to Atlanta’s defense. That said, the team sees something in him, and it’s up to DQ and Raheem Morris to unlock that potential. GRADE: B

Round Seven: P Sterling Hofritcher (228th overall)

Analysis: Punters are people too, folks! Yes, they usually get selected late or go undrafted, but sometimes they can be useful in the game. Such is the case with the Falcons, as they don’t have longtime man Matt Bosher on the roster anymore and just released Sam Irwin-Hill just a few hours prior to this selection. And according to the reports, Hoftricher was a pretty damn good punter at Syracuse, posting the longest hang time of all qualified players and averaging over 43 yards a punt. For the team, it’s an ok selection, but an understandable one. GRADE: B-


Joe Carlino
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