May
02
2021

NFL Draft Days 1 and 2 Grades: Atlanta Falcons

The NFL Draft is now over, and Falcons fans have a lot to be excited about this year. The franchise had a GREAT first day of the draft, grabbing two x-factors that add depth and will help accelerate this team to a winning season in 2021.

Kyle Pitts (TE, Florida): A+

The Atlanta Falcons drafted TE Kyle Pitts (Florida) with the 4th overall pick in the draft. This adds another weapon to Matt Ryan’s arsenal. Ryan, seemingly excited about the pick, welcomed Pitts to the team in a tweet saying “Let’s get to work.”

Often compared to DK Metcalf, Kyle Pitts is 6’6″, 245 pounds. He can run routes like a wideout and can block like a tight end. Additionally, Pitts is great with the stiff arm, which allows him to get an easy 5 extra yards when utilized. Pitts has great body control when going up to catch a pass, as well as when coming back to earth, by toe-tapping to land in bounds. He is cool in double coverage and seems to beat corners and safeties for the ball when up in the air.

A+ is an understatement here. Arthur Smith was notorious for running 2 TE sets during his time in Tennessee, which means Pitts will play a big role in this offense right away.

This pick may have been a surprise to the rest of the league, but this is something Falcons fans have been anticipating for weeks. The Atlanta fanbase was divided on Twitter over whether to draft Justin Fields (or a quarterback in general), Kyle Pitts, or trade down and draft defensive capital. With Matt Ryan still playing at an elite level, the Falcons made the right move betting on Pitts.

Looking at the rest of the Falcons receivers, you’ll find a living legend, Julio Jones, and WR1-caliber Calvin Ridley. Julio was hurt for much of last year, and Calvin Ridley took the reins seamlessly, accruing 90 catches and 9 touchdowns. Julio, on the other hand, has been the star wideout of the Falcons for many years. Going into the 10th year of his NFL career, Jones is a 7x Pro-Bowler and has 848 catches for 12,896 yards. Adding Pitts to this mix, with Mike Davis leading the backfield, makes the Atlanta Falcons the best offense in the NFL.

Richie Grant (DB, UCF): A

Richie Grant is a great pickup for the Falcons’ secondary. Grant, 6′ 197lbs, has exceptional body control and was a serious disruptor in UCF’s secondary. The UCF product had over 100 tackles in 2018 and is a “ball-hawk” corner that can thwart any route runner’s ability to catch the football.

You’ll see in his tape that he excels at poking the football free while tackling, which will be huge for the struggling Falcons’ secondary that could use more turnovers. He’s quick, hits hard, and can smother any route runner. Grant had 2 forced fumbles, and 1 the year prior. Possessing a high football IQ, Grant understands the game enough to know when to fall down after an INT to manage the game and clock.

Grant will fit great in this Falcons secondary, even if he sits his first year. Whether he plays or not, this pick adds cornerback depth to the Falcons roster and allows Grant to learn under AJ Terrell JR and Fabian Moreau. This is a fantastic pick for the Atlanta Falcons, a secondary that allowed the most passing yards per game in 2020.

Jalen Mayfield (OL, Michigan): B

Drafting OL Jalen Mayfield in the third round will give Matt Ryan more time in the pocket to throw to one of his many targets. Mayfield, 6’5″ 320Ibs is a big addition to the offensive line (no pun intended.)

Mayfield has a great mind for the game. If you watch his tape, you’ll see that he has a good bend in the knees and a solid frame when blocking. Mayfield will block the lineman for a few seconds, then let him go and run up to block the linebacker if the team is running the ball. Jalen Mayfield possesses vision and awareness that most lineman lack at the collegiate level.