Ethan Hewett | May 2nd, 2020
It was a tale of two seasons for the Atlanta Falcons in 2019. They started really slow but came back and finished the season strong. They topped it off with an offseason consisting of signing running back Todd Gurley and trading for tight end Hayden Hurst. While they also signed Dante Fowler Jr, the defense still needed a big boost through this year’s draft. How did the Falcons fare in the 2020 NFL Draft? Let’s get right into the review of these picks and find out.
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Round 1, Pick 16: A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson
The Falcons seemed to panic a little bit with this pick. Despite rumors that they were going to trade up for C.J. Henderson or Jeffrey Okudah, the Falcons didn’t make it happen and drafted Terrell at sixteen. Terrell was probably one of my favorite corners outside of the top two, and while he was a top-five corner in this draft, he was drafted well above his value here.
Terrell has the length and strength to be a solid outside corner, and the Falcons needed to replace Desmond Trufant, whom they cut earlier this offseason. The Falcons do seem to have faith in Kendall Sheffield and Isaiah Oliver for 2020. Still, if Terrell doesn’t brush up his technique to make an impact early, a lot of people will question this pick.
Round 2, Pick 47: Marlon Davidson, DL, Auburn
The Falcons made up for the reach for Terrell by picking up Davidson here in the second round. Davidson showed some versatility during his time at Auburn playing inside at defensive tackle, and they also had him standing at the edge spot on a few plays. Davidson also led the Auburn Tigers in sacks in 2019 with 7.5. To me, it seems his best fit would be to slide him inside with his size and power. Paring Davidson with Grady Jarrett on the inside of the Falcons defensive line should really help them improve their sack numbers, which saw them 29th in the league in 2019.
Full scouting report here.
Round 3, Pick 78: Matt Hennessy, C, Temple
This picks value is great here for the Falcons. Hennessy fell right into the Falcons laps here in the third, and he could have gone a lot sooner than this. Hennessy is as solid interior offensive lineman and will most likely make an impact early on in his career. Next season is a bit of a question mark as Alex Mack is still on the roster, and Hennessy is best suited at the center position. Chris Lindstrom missed most of last season but is hoping to return this year, which doesn’t leave much room for Hennessy. However, Mack will be 35 and a free agent in 2021, opening up the starting spot for Hennessy.
Round 4, Pick 119: Mykal Walker, LB, Fresno State
The linebacker spot was a big need for the Falcons this offseason with the departure of De’Vondre Campbell, and there wasn’t much depth behind Deion Jones and Foyesade Oluokun. However, the pick for Walker here is a bit questionable as most saw him as a low round or even an undrafted rookie. Walker did put up big-time tackle numbers during his time at Gonzaga, and he played both inside and as an edge rusher. Because it was a need, Atlanta gets an average grade. Still, Walker will need to develop a lot for Atlanta to see the value for this pick other than special teams.
Round 4, Pick 134: Jaylinn Hawkins, S, California
Atlanta seems to be creating a trend here. They want players who can play in multiple spots. While they do have Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen, injuries have plagued the Falcons secondary recently, and adding a player like Hawkins adds depth where they needed it and Hawkins can play and his football IQ is great, he just needs to learn how to control himself. Hawkins also put up some decent numbers in college racking up 10 interceptions. While this may have been a bit of a reach here as most had Hawkins as more of a seventh-round talent, the Falcons still get a solid depth player who could develop into a nice starter.
Round 7, Pick 228: Sterling Hofrichter, P, Syracuse
I’m not really sure what the Falcons were doing with this pick. The team must have really been impressed with Hofrichter with Ryan Allen on the roster who they acquired during the 2019 offseason. Hofrichter was a great punter and was a four-time Ray Guy Award candidate during his time at Syracuse. If there was a place to take a punter, it would be the seventh round. Still, you have to wonder if Hofrichter would have been available as an undrafted rookie. I, for one, am not a huge fan of drafting punters and kickers, and Atlanta could have addressed other depth spots with this pick.
Overall, the Falcons had a solid draft. While Terrell may have gone higher than most thought he would, if he can polish up his technique, he will be a pro-bowl starting corner. I really liked the Hennessy pick, and Davidson was probably their best pick of the draft. Those are two players who could make an impact early on and be solid foundation pieces for the years to come.
While some of the late-round picks were slightly questionable, they grabbed two players in Walker and Hawkins, who should be solid depth pieces for now. The worst selection for me was their last one. While I do respect punters and they can be incredibly valuable for certain teams, I just don’t think Atlanta is one of them. It was a pick they probably could have put elsewhere.
Overall Grade: B
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