Atlanta Falcons NFL Draft Picks & Grades 2022: Drake London Headlines a Stacked Draft Class

The Falcons had some extra draft capital to work with this year after moving on from Matt Ryan and Julio Jones and kickstarting their rebuilding process. They put those additional draft picks to good use as they earned one of my top grades. Atlanta was able to strike an outstanding balance between addressing needs and adding the best player available on their way to building one of the best draft classes in the NFL. This article will provide a full draft recap for the Falcons with analysis and grades for each pick.

Atlanta Falcons Draft Picks 2022

Round 1 No. 8 WR Drake London
Round 2 No. 38 DE Arnold Ebiketie
Round 2 No. 58 LB Troy Andersen
Round 3 No. 74 QB Desmond Ridder
Round 3 No. 82 DE DeAngelo Malone
Round 5 No. 151 RB Tyler Allgeier
Round 6 No. 190 OG Justin Shaffer
Round 6 No. 213 TE John FitzPatrick

Overall Draft Grade: A

Analysis: Atlanta did an excellent job resetting its franchise with this draft class, adding talented players across the board. Drake London will be a centerpiece of the offense for years to come. Arnold Ebiketie and DeAngelo Malone provide immediate relief for the worst pass-rushing team last season. Troy Andersen is one of the best athletes in this entire draft. Desmond Ridder was taken at a spot where the upside outweighs the risk. Overall, the Falcons crushed Day 1 and 2, and the only reason I don’t have this as a flat A is their Day 3 was a tad underwhelming.

Atlanta Falcons Draft Grades 2022

Round: 1 Pick: 8 / Drake London, WR, USC

So much of the conversation surrounding Drake London has been around his supposed inability to separate downfield, as Pro Football Focus charted him with an FBS-leading 17 contested catches last year. Still, he also ranked top-five in this class with 22 missed tackles forced last year per PFF. In addition to the underrated YAC ability, London is a polished route-runner and a receiver who can line up as a big slot or as a true X-receiver. The Falcons were in desparate need of an alpha receiver to headline what was arguably the worst receiving corps in the NFL, and London joins Pitts in what could turn into one of the best receiving tandems in the league in a couple of years.

Grade: A

Round: 2 Pick: 38 / Arnold Ebiketie, DE, Penn State

The Falcons generated just 18 sacks last season, which was the fewest in the NFL; the second-lowest team was the Eagles with 29. Atlanta also ranked dead last in team pressure rate last season (21%) per PFF. With A.J. Terrell quickly developing into one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, their focus turned to the defensive front, where Ebiketie will be a Day 1 starter. Ebiketie faced some elite tackles in the Big 10 last season after transferring from Temple, and his pass-rush protection only improved as he registered 52 total pressures with a 22.9% pass-rush win rate that was one of the best in this class per PFF. Combine that productivity with elite athleticism, and this is arguably a first-round caliber talent at a premium position of need for Atlanta.

Grade: A

Round: 2 Pick: 58 / Troy Andersen, LB, Montana State

Troy Andersen is raw – he only had one full season playing linebacker – but he’s one of the best athletes in this entire draft as he finished with a RAS of 10.0 and ranked above the 95th percentile in the 40-yard dash, 3-cone drill, and broad jump. His closest RAS comps were Von Miller and Luke Kuechly. Andersen has a nose for the football – he ranked fourth in the country last year with 49 run stops per PFF – and has experience in coverage as he was asked to play some slot corner for Montana State. As he develops more technical refinement at linebacker, I wouldn’t be shocked if Andersen develops into one of the best players at his position in the NFL.

Grade: A

Round: 3 Pick: 74 / Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati

This is the perfect spot to take a chance on a quarterback. There were rumors that Desmond Ridder could sneak into the first round, and that was always going to be too rich for me, but the third round is an ideal spot to take a chance on his talent after landing three franchise-altering talents with your first three picks. Ridder has four years of starting experience, the best processing speed in this class, and elite athleticism. His arm strength stands out, as do his leadership traits. The big knocks on Ridder will be his lack of experience against top competition and his accuracy deficiencies that likely won’t change much as he’s pretty close to a polished product. Nonetheless, it’s hard to complain about landing a potential starting passer here.

Grade: A-

Round: 3 Pick: 82 / DeAngelo Malone, DE, Western Kentucky

Even after drafting Arnold Ebiketie in the second round, the Falcons weren’t done bolstering their pass-rush. Malone is another elite athlete who finished with a RAS of 9.06, and he can provide instant-impact designated pass-rushing. Malone won the Senior Bowl American Player of the Game award for his six tackles, 0.5 sacks, and two quarterback hurries in the game. He will be 23 years old, so he’s closer to a finished product, but he racked up 180 pressures throughout his career at Western Kentucky, and it’s good to see him dominate that lower level of competition. Malone is undersized at 6’3”, 243 lbs, but even if he never plays run downs in the NFL, his pass-rushing prowess can provide value in the third round.

Grade: B+

Round: 5 Pick: 151 / Tyler Allgeier, RB, BYU

Tyler Allgeier didn’t have elite athletic testing in any area, which wasn’t surprising. Still, his excellent vision and hard-nosed running style make for a great fit in the Arthur Smith offense. Allgeier can also contribute with physical pass-blocking on third downs. With 36 touchdowns over the last two years, Allgeier has a nose for the end zone. He’s also very difficult to bring down with his 4.4 yards after contact per attempt in his BYU career. The hit rate on Day 3 running backs isn’t typically great, but Allgeier becoming a consistent contributor to the Falcons’ offense as soon as this season is highly conceivable.

Grade: B

Round: 6 Pick: 190 / Justin Shaffer, OG, Georgia

Shaffer has extensive starting experience with 26 starts at left guard and one at right guard in his career for Georgia, and he took a significant step forward in his senior season. Shaffer tested in the 75th percentile for both the 40-yard dash and broad jump, and he has solid size and length attributes for the interior offensive line. Overall, his durability and starting experience in the SEC will make him a decent depth piece for the Falcons. Still, there were other offensive linemen I would have targeted with this pick.

Grade: C+

Round: 6 Pick: 213 / John FitzPatrick, TE, Georgia

I don’t know a ton about John FitzPatrick as he only had 17 catches for 200 yards in his three years at Georgia, but we can presume that the Falcons have had plenty of opportunities to scout him as they’re the closest NFL team to Athens. Atlanta already has Kyle Pitts and Anthony Firkser in the tight end room, but they needed a physical blocking presence, and FitzPatrick can provide some value to Arthur Smith’s offense in that role.

Grade: C-

I've been writing about sports for Lineups since the beginning of 2020 and on my own website since 2018. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. With my educational background in the sports business and a strong knowledge of the inner workings of professional and collegiate sports, I hope to tell enthralling stories about the world of sports as it unfolds around me.

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