Roundtable: grading the Atlanta Falcons 2020 draft class

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The 2020 NFL Draft is in the past and our staff delivers their grades for all of the Atlanta Falcons selections. 

What is your overall opinion of the Falcons draft this year?

Chris Vinel: Mixed feelings. Atlanta reached on a few of its picks but also addressed glaring needs. I felt bad for Falcons fans, because in the leadup to the draft, they heard new rumors about potential trades and excitement everyday. None of them came true. It was a decent draft, though, as general manager Thomas Dimitroff and Co. selected three promising prospects in the first three rounds. After that, meh.

Jeremy Johnson: I thought the Falcons knocked this draft out of the park. They filled their needs. They got 4 and a half starters despite limited selections. That's a win.

Malik Brown: The Falcons did exactly what they were supposed to. They filled needs where they needed to be filled, all without trading any picks. Successful all around the board.

Rashad Milligan: I liked it. Address needs and stop taking these skill players. Atlanta had limited choices this year with six picks and there was limited trade action going on in night one.

Dave Holcomb: Overall, it was a nice draft. Dimitroff filled a lot of needs, but what sticks out to me the most is the lack of emphasis on outside pass rush (I’m assuming Marlon Davidson moves inside). The Falcons didn’t add much through the draft last year to support Vic Beasley, and that led to Atlanta finishing near the bottom of the league in sacks. This feels eerily similar.

Christian Crittenden: The Falcons had a nice draft. They filled a lot of the holes that they needed to fill. I think they may have reached for A.J Terrell, but all in all, I’ll give TD and DQ a passing grade.

Brady Pfister: Good, not great. Sure, they met their needs, but can you truly say that any of these players are going to be sure fire starters? Probably not. By no means was this a bad draft, but this doesn’t make the Falcons any better or worse this year.

Terence Moore: This was a decent draft for the Falcons, but here’s the thing: Given the mandate from owner Arthur Blank to win now, they needed a great one.

Zach Hood: Solid. Terrell may have been a reach, but they needed a corner. From there, I really liked the picks of Matt Hennessy and Marlon Davidson.

What was your favorite pick by the Falcons in the 2020 NFL Draft?

Chris: A.J. Terrell but only because the Falcons needed a corner in the worst of ways. If they had waited until even the second or third round to take one, it might’ve been trouble in a division featuring Drew Brees and Tom Brady, and Michael Thomas, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.

Jeremy: Marlon Davidson is probably my favorite pick. Reminds me of when the Chiefs snagged Chris Jones out of Mississippi State where he'd been a supersized defensive end. He's since developed into a star tackle at the NFL level. Davidson could have a similar path.

Malik: Marlon Davidson. This guy can rush the passer as a defensive end and come in the inside and wreak havoc. His confidence stands out to me as well, and reminds me alot of Takk when he got drafted. He’s going to be a fun player to watch for years.

Rashad: Marlon Davidson. I dedicated an entire story on why I believe so.

Dave: I liked adding center Matt Hennessy in the third round. With so much capital going to the offensive line last year, the Falcons don’t have an immediate need there, but Alex Mack probably only has one year remaining in Atlanta. Hennessy can ease himself into the NFL and become the Falcons starting center in 2021. This year, he’ll provide depth to every interior offensive line spot.

Christian: Marlon Davidson. The Falcons struggled with rushing the passer and stopping the run so he helps in both of those areas. He was a four-year starter so he has tons of experience, and he will bring an edge to the Falcons defense that it didn’t have last year.

Brady: Marlon Davidson. The versatility this dude brings to the table is special. With this pick, they could have gone with a more pure edge rusher, but Atlanta needed an interior and exterior pass rusher. Davidson is both, making this a solid selection.

Terence: It’s clearly Marlon Davidson. Huge. Fast for his size. Four-year starter for an upper echelon SEC team (Auburn). He also is good on special teams (three blocked kicks). Plus, he’s a wonderful quote.

Zach: Loved the Marlon Davidson pick, and it’s the one that probably impacts the team the most day one. If Hennessy can start at left guard, he might have a significant impact as well.

How would you grade the Falcons first round selection of Clemson CB A.J. Terrell?

Chris: B. He’s fine. He has the size, speed and intangibles Atlanta likes, and fills the void left by Desmond Trufant. At No. 16, Terrell is probably a little underwhelming to Falcons fans. Many wanted their team to trade up for a player like Isaiah Simmons or Jeff Okudah. Terrell, a projected late-first- or early-second-round pick, isn’t on that level, but he’ll be a good player.

Jeremy: B+. He's a solid player with upside. Can't ask for more in the middle of the first round.

Malik: A-. You can't be mad at them for going to get their guy. Plus, cornerback was one of their biggest needs, and he was on the board. Terrell should do fine in Atlanta.

Rashad: B. The Falcons did what they could with who was available after San Francisco snatched Javon Kinlaw. Obviously K’Lavon Chaisson is a guy who wanted to play in Atlanta but when you have to cut your top corner for money purposes and your top option is Isaiah Oliver...you’re probably going to need some more help at the defensive back spot. Hometown kid plus more fuel to succeed from the backlash he’s received from the spot Atlanta took him at, he should be a solid pro.

Dave: C. Terrell was a reach -- plain and simple. Sure, Dimitroff filled a need but did so by drafting a player some experts didn’t think was a first-round choice or the best available cornerback at No. 16.

Christian: B. Terrell is a solid prospect and he has the potential to get better with strong coaching.

Brady: C. He meets the need, but he doesn’t have 16th overall value. He’s by all means a reach. Coming into the draft, the best thing the Falcons could have done with the 16th pick is trade it because they could have landed a similar pick ten spots later. Or taken a clearly better prospect earlier in the draft. They did neither, leaving Falcons fans wondering what could have been.

Terence: D. It’s not so much because of the player. It’s because the Falcons kept suggesting weeks before the draft that they would make a big splash, but this was only a ripple by getting A.J. Terrell, projected as either a late first-round pick or second rounder.

Zach: C. Can’t totally knock the pick because of the glaring need for an outside corner, but it’s hard to ignore his placement outside the top-25 on most boards. It was a reach on most accounts.

Grade the Falcons’ performance on day two and three of the 2020 NFL Draft:

Chris: Marlon Davidson was a good pick. So was Matt Hennessey. The rest? Reach, reach and another reach. But that doesn’t mean they won’t pan out, and Atlanta did fill needs by drafting them. Overall grade: B

Jeremy: A. They found good players that can help right away but also fill needs long term.

Malik: A. They addressed the defensive line and future at the center position with Davidson and Hennessey. Walker, Hawkins, and Hofrichter will make impacts on this team when their number is called.

Rashad: B. Continued the trend of not necessarily the biggest names, but the biggest needs. There are two huge Georgia-native prospects coming out next year, and Atlanta should hold its cards for them.

Dave: B-. Davidson will help the pass rush but at his size, I expect he’s going to move inside next to Grady Jarrett. Hennessy provides depth and could be a future starter. Mykal Walker, Jaylinn Hawkins and Sterling Hofrichter are all going to compete for jobs and provide additional depth at key positions.

Christian: B.Marlon Davidson, was the best pick of the two days. Matt Hennessy is a very good interior line prospect, who is the future at center once Alex Mack retires. Mykal Walker and Jaylinn Hawkins provide much needed depth on defense.

Brady: B. It’s hard to call anyone a reach the farther along in the draft you get. On days 2-3, you hope your team fills some holes and trust the scouting department knows how to evaluate mid-range talent.

Terence: B. Marlon Davidson looks like a potential star. Matt Hennessy? Looks solid. And the other picks provide depth for a team that needs it.

Zach: B+. Loved the Davidson and Hennessy picks, and Walker & Hawkins should both provide some position versatility as well. Would have went A if they didn’t draft a punter.

What is one position they didn’t address, or a player you would have liked to see them bring to Atlanta that they didn’t get?

Chris: This is the one thing Atlanta did extremely well — drafting a wide range of players to fill their roster holes. They selected 2020 starters or depth contributors at all of their positions of need. Another corner would’ve been nice, but Terrell was essentially deemed a starter by the time last Thursday turned to Friday, and the Falcons have OK options on the other side. The backup running backs leave a lot to be desired, but to add a guaranteed contributor, Atlanta would’ve had to address the position in the first four rounds, when it had more pressing demands.

Jeremy: The running back position remains a little unexplosive. I wouldn't expect much big runs like the Falcons got from Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman.

Malik: Drafting another cornerback to challenge Isaiah Oliver would have been a good idea. I liked Trevon Diggs out of Alabama, but the Cowboys got to him in the second round. I think he’s a long and physical corner that the Falcons would have liked.

Rashad: I’d say running back. Even if Todd Gurley II has a bounce-back season, his deal is only for one year. Simple science but a dependable running attack opens up the pass game more and helps the Falcons reach their full potential to be potent on that side of the ball. I’m not sure why you would spend one of your six picks on a punter but maybe he proves us all wrong someday. Sterling Hofrichter, feel free to screenshot this statement, save it as your background and make me look stupid.

Dave: Outside pass rusher. Davidson could fill that void, but again, I don’t think at his size, he’s going to play outside very often. The Falcons lack the dynamite outside pass rushers that are necessary to win in today’s NFL.

Christian: Running back! Yes they signed Todd Gurley, but do you trust his knees? And even if they do hold up, you want to keep him as fresh as possible so they need a solid No. 2 option and they don’t have right now.

Brady: Linebacker. The Falcons lost their leading tackler and seem to be content replacing him with Oluokon, who has been primarily a special teams guy in the league. This position needed to be prioritized earlier.

Terence: When you’re the Falcons, and you haven’t had pass rush in years, you need all of the pass rushers you can get. So they needed to move up and snatch Javon Kinlaw, the defensive lineman from South Carolina who is huge in general (6-foot-5, 324 pounds) and huge in big games.

Zach: Pure pass rush. They drafted a couple players in Davidson and Walker who can rush the passer, but they didn’t bring in that prototype edge player to play opposite Dante Fowler Jr. on third downs. Davidson is more of a hybrid end and Mykal Walker wasn’t a full time rusher in college either.