Can the Falcons now force teams to put their corners inside if they align both Kyle Pitts and Drake London at the slot positions? If nothing else, it could give away a number of pre-snap tendencies for the defense. Arthur Smith is drawing up formations as we speak.
But the Falcons needed much more than just an infusion of weapons on offense. They were pretty solid defensively, but the pass rush still lacked a bona fide star.
|Player||School||DN Big Board|
|1 (8)||Drake London||WR/USC||8/1st Round||London's combination of route-running and athleticism are often clouded by speed concerns. The size and quickness could more than make up for the concerns. |
Acquired from Carolina through the Jets via the Giants
|Arnold Ebiketie||DE-OLB/Penn State, Temple||27/2nd Round||Ebiketie brings a unique blend of speed-to-power off the edge. While only an adequate bender, his hand usage and upper body strength were evident from the opening contest against Wisconsin through the season.|
|2 (58) Acquired from Tennessee||Troy Andersen||LB/Montana State||109/3rd Round||Andersen -an academic standout- has aligned at QB, LB and RB. He's even run by CBs as an X-WR (Texas Tech '19). The former Bobcat has to grow when it comes to anticipation at the LB spot reading the action. |
|3 (74)||Desmond Ridder||QB/Cincinnati||55/2nd Round||Ridder lost just seven of his 51 career outings. The foot speed is in place, but his strong arm shows much more capability if he can rein in the misses.|
|3 (82) Acquired from Indianapolis||DeAngelo Malone||OLB/Western Kentucky||98/3rd Round||Malone won two C-USA Defensive Player of the Year awards in school (2019, 2021) and finished with 34 sacks and nine forced fumbles. He also aligned at a number of spots in school. |
|5 (151)||Tyler Allgeier||RB/BYU||52/2nd Round||Allgeier got dinged for running a 4.6 40-yard dash, but his athleticism shone when the games were being played (1,606 yards, 5.8 YPC, 23 TDs). In fact, as a linebacker for the Cougars in 2019, he tallied 26 tackles, one forced fumble and one pass breakup. He has even shined in kickoff coverage (see USF '19).|
|6 (190)||Justin Shaffer||OG/Georgia||300/4th Round||Shaffer's consistent energy often outweighed any potential flaws in his game. If he can play under control, then he could challenge at least a backup spot in the team's rotation.|
|6 (213)||John FitzPatrick||TE/Georgia||N/A||A very good in-line blocker, FitzPatrick began the season on the move for the 'Dawgs and continued to show incremental improvements with limited opportunities in the passing game. His size (6'7 262) makes him an imposing figure in two or three TE sets.|
|2022 UDFA Signings|
|DN Big Board Rank||Player||Positions||School||Grade||Round||Nasty’ Take:|
|287||Tyler Vrabel||OT||Boston College||5.36||4th Round||Vrabel started multiple years on the edge at left tackle, but fought through a tough knee injury for most of his final campaign. His quickness and hand-eye coordination impress, along with the size.|
|424||Derrick Tangelo||DT||Penn State, Duke||4.957||5th Round||While at Duke, the numbers didn’t truly reflect the impact that Tangelo could have on a game. Just like he did in the 2022 East-West Shrine Bowl, he can walk back OGs into the lap of quarterbacks with his speed-to-power exhibitions. Can he use that to develop an arsenal of pass rush moves around it?|
|366||Stanley Berryhill III||All-Purpose||Arizona||5.12||5th Round||Berryhill’s work at gunner, punt returner and wide receiver combined to make him one of our all-purpose players in the draft. Continuing to excel at gunner (at 185 pounds) could be a challenge.|
|333||Brad Hawkins||S-LB||Michigan||5.18||5th Round||Not many players were as dependable as the former high school WR in college. Hawkins made a habit of showing up, setting a Michigan team record for game appearances. Despite that, he finished with zero career interceptions.|
|541||Kuony Deng||OLB||California||4.53||6th Round||After starting his career on a fast pace, injuries took away the majority of the last two seasons for Deng. Can the 6-foot-6, 245-pounder turn into a pass rusher?|
|Kana’i Mauga||LB||USC||N/A||N/A||Mauga (6’1 245), finished with 91 tackles in 2021 on a defense that largely underperformed. He has enough size and range to potentially find a role in the league|
|Bryce Rodgers||DT||UC Davis||N/A||N/A||Rodgers, a Palo Alto native, posted career-highs in tackles, sacks and tackles for losses.|
|Tre Webb||DB||Montana State, San Jose State||N/A||N/A||Communicates in the pre-snap. Out of quarters coverage, he is satisfactory breaking from the inside-out to match. Long strider. Ran down Nevada's Toa Taua early in the 2020 MWC Championship game. Fits as the eighth man in the box (4th QTR, Boise State '19).|
|Tyshaun James||WR||Central Connecticut State||N/A||N/A||James could rank as a sleeper to make the team at 6’2, 214 pounds. His size is similar to current Falcons WR Cordarrelle Patterson. The game is a bit different but he does more than just passes on the field. He rushed for five TDs in 2019.|
|Jared Bernhardt||QB||Ferris State, Maryland||N/A||N/A||The former Maryland lacrosse star had one heck of a year at QB. He led Ferris State to a national crown and largely did it with his legs against Valdosta State in the national title game, rushing for three TDs. He set records on his way to being a Tewaaraton Award finalist at Maryland, when he scored 51 goals in 2019.|
Defensively, it has been a never-ending story regarding the Falcons need for a pass rusher. In fact, they haven’t had a double-digit sack artist since Vic Beasley’s 15.5 sacks in 2016. That, coincidently, was the Falcons’ last Super Bowl appearance. Can Ebiketie, Carter or Ogundeji stop the trend? Maybe DeAngelo Malone, the team’s third-round pick, turns into the pass rusher they’ve been seeking for years to turn the corner.
No matter who it is, the team has definitely begun to address the issue at its core.