The 2018 Atlanta Falcons Draft Class: Instant Grades and Analysis

I did individual articles, scouting reports, and grades for the first 4 picks but here are my grades and scouting reports on the individual picks as well as my overall draft grade! 

Round 1, Pick 26: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

Ridley

Somehow Calvin Ridley fell to 26 and the Falcons pulled the trigger to many fans surprise. I was almost 100% sure we were going to take Taven Bryan but the Falcons have always been unorthodox so this isn’t a surprise to everyone. I initially was disappointed but after looking at my notes, I realized I had graded him as a top 15 player in this years draft. I don’t think many people are surprised the Falcons took him but more surprised that he was even there. I can’t wait to hear what Dimitroff has to say about this pick but I can only assume it was more a case of best available rather than need based.

Combine Results

Height: 6-1

Weight: 189

Hand: 9 1/8

Arm: 31 5/8

40 yard dash: 4.43

Bench Press: 15 reps

Vertical: 31 inches

Broad Jump: 110 inches

3 Cone Drill: 6.88

20 Yard Shuttle: 4.41

Strengths:

Effortless coming in-and-out of his cuts, speed is consistent no matter the route, quick feet, good separation talent, can easily look off safeties with small head movements, can drop low and go high for balls out of his range, great improvisation skills when play goes on, good route runner

Ridley3.jpg

Weaknesses:

Thin (needs to bulk up a little, maybe 10 pounds), poor handfighting, averaged 7 drops a season, tends to dance after catch, can be put off by physical corners

Quote:

“I haven’t seen them all yet, but I doubt anybody in this class will touch him at that position. You wish he was a little bigger and stronger, but he can get open on just about any route you want. I still think he’s a step below where Amari Cooper was coming out.” — NFC team general manager

Calvin Ridley

Grade: A+

I wish we could’ve gotten Da’Ron Payne but unfortunately he wasn’t there. Taven Bryan was there and surprisingly, the Falcons decided to take Calvin Ridley. What this pick tells me is that the Falcons believe the talent gap between Taven Bryan and a second round DT is not that big. He is, in my opinion, the best wide receiver in the draft and is an absolute steal at 26. I expect him to come in and be the 3rd wide receiver but to be used more often than Gabriel was. I also think it’s a possibility that he returns kicks for the Falcons next year. This was simply a pick where the Falcons couldn’t pass over Ridley as he magically dropped into their laps. Overall, this is a very promising pick that I think most of our fans are happy with!

Round 2, Pick 58: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado

After picking a wide receiver with their 26th pick, the hole at DT remained for the Falcons. The Falcons, despite the obvious need at DT, decided to go after Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado.

Oliver2

Combine Results

Height: 6-0

Weight: 201

Hand: 9 3/4

Arm: 33 1/2

40 yard dash: 4.5

Bench Press: Injury

Vertical: Injury

Broad Jump: Injury

3 Cone Drill: Injury

20 Yard Shuttle: Injury

Oliver

Strengths

Great athlete (decathlete), elite combination of size and speed, deep speed, soft hands, has good makeup speed and arm length which allows him to have a greater margin for error, aggressive when a receiver catches it (claws and rakes at the ball to pull it out), requires touch and precision from the opposing qb in order to loft it over his big frame

Weaknesses

Struggles to gear down, too tall in backpedal, lacks aggressiveness in run support and tackle finishing, has trouble keeping up with receivers right out of their breaks

Oliver3

Grade: A-

I wanted the Falcons to take Hurst or another DT here but a CB is a good pick anyways. The Oliver pick is a great pick though as he is a 1st round talent who somehow dropped into the Falcons lap. Oliver is raw but isn’t as raw as Jalen Collins when we picked him and he made an impact so expect Oliver to be ushered into the league slowly and compete with Poole beginning in camp for the nickel corner position. A lot of fans might be unhappy with this pick as DT is a bigger need, but I trust Dimitroff, Quinn, and Blank when it comes to the draft!

Round 3, Pick 90: Deadrin Senat, DT, USF

After 2 rounds of speculation, the Falcons have finally gotten the compliment to Grady Jarrett. With the 90th pick, the Falcons selected USF DT Deadrin Senat and finally filled their most pressing need. Senat2

Combine Results

Height: 6-0

Weight: 314

Hand: 9 3/4

Arm: 31 5/8

40 yard dash: 5.16

Bench Press: 35

Vertical: 26 inches

Broad Jump: 100 inches

3 Cone Drill: 7.77

20 Yard Shuttle: 4.79

Senat3

Strengths

Muscled arms and barrel chest (resembles Jarrett), plays with a sturdy base,violent and sudden hands, initial punch is great, plenty of chase down plays, has improved his pass rushing, showed out at the Shrine game

Weaknesses

Lacks length, has issues getting blockers fully off of him when shucking them, wash blocks hinder him, although his initial punch is fast he lacks initial disruption off the snap

Senat

Grade: A-

Thomas Dimitroff and Dan Quinn continue to impress in the draft. Senat looks like a Grady Jarrett clone and based on his film has a lot of the same qualities. He is going to come in and be the 1T next to Jarrett and in my opinion will be a great complement. He is a big disruptive player who excels in the run game (66 tackles his senior year) but also can be a threat as a pass rusher (See video; 6 sacks senior year from the 1T). This is a great pick and Senat is the perfect compliment to Grady Jarrett.

Round 4, Pick 126: Ito Smith, RB, Southern Mississippi

After Teron Ward left this offseason, a 3rd RB was obviously a need. The Falcons decided to address that in the 4th round by picking Ito Smith, RB, Southern Mississippi.

Smith2

Pro Day Results

Height: 5-9

Weight: 200

Hand: N/A

Arm: N/A

40 yard dash: 4.45

Bench Press: 22

Vertical: 36.5 inches

Broad Jump: 119 inches

3 Cone Drill: 7.22

20 Yard Shuttle: 4.56

Smith3

Strengths

Workhorse (is one of 10 players in NCAA history to have at least 4K yards rushing and 1K yards receiving in his career), one-cut ability, good pass-catcher, great vision (stays behind blockers until the right time, versatile (RB, WR, Returner)

Weaknesses

A little undersized, not as elusive as most small runners tend to be, can get taken back by contact rather than falling forward

Smith1

Grade: B+

Ito Smith is a good RB3 but the Falcons should’ve taken him later as there were other better running backs and a better player and need on the board in Duke Ejiofor. It isn’t an awful pick as Smith can come in and be a good RB3 and short-yardage back but I wish they would’ve taken him later.

Round 6, Pick 194: Russell Gage, WR/ST, LSU

Gage3

Dimitroff continued his draft bartering this year as he traded the Falcons 244th and 256th pick for the Rams 194th pick. With that pick, the Falcons selected special teams ace Russell Gage out of LSU.

Pro Day Results

Height: 6-0

Weight: 186

Hand: 9 1/8

Arm: 33

40 yard dash: 4.42

Bench Press: 15

Vertical: 39 inches

Broad Jump: 122 inches

3 Cone Drill: 7.03

20 Yard Shuttle: 4.56

Gage2

Strengths

Great athlete, puts body on the line, great special teams player (17 special teams tackles), energetic and highly competitive, good after catch moves, second gear in his engine

Weaknesses

Poor production, not always catch ready when coming our of breaks, easily re-routed by physical cornerbacks

LSU v AlabamaYes, that is 1st round draft pick Minkah Fitzpatrick

Grade: B-

The Falcons have no obvious holes on their roster so for this pick they could afford to go with a special teams player. This a decent depth pick and Gage will help a poor special teams unit from last year.

Round 6, Pick 200: Foyesade Oluokun, LB/S, Yale

Foye3

With their last pick in the draft, Dimitroff and Quinn decided to pick a hybrid defensive player who performed well in college.

Pro Day Results

Height: 6-2

Weight: 230

Hand: 9 3/8

Arm: 33 7/8

40 yard dash: 4.48

Bench Press: 18

Vertical: 37 inches

Broad Jump: 123 inches

3 Cone Drill: 6.94

20 Yard Shuttle: 4.12

Foye2

Strengths

Good athlete, versatile (LB, CB, S), aggressive tackle finisher, good in coverage, great closing speed, great tackler in space, great range

Weaknesses

Lacks instincts and play recognition, has tunnel vision, needs quicker hands

Foye

Grade: B+

Foyesade (needs a nickname; maybe Foye) Oluokun is an under the radar player who played well in his career and is a good athlete. He certainly will have an impact on special teams and possibly as a rotational piece on defense. Quinn said he will use him in multiple roles during camp and we’ll see how he does!

Overall Draft Grade: A

Senat4.jpg

In this draft, the Falcons addressed team needs well and got lucky with the picks they were able to make.

The Falcons drafted three players who will have immediate impacts in the first three round and then drafted three depth players who will help on special teams. If all these players perform as expected, we could possibly crown a new best Falcons draft class of all time over 2016!

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Phil Veasley
Phil Veasley is a resident of Atlanta who has been a die-hard Hawks fan since 2005. He is Civil Engineer student at KSU. Currently, Phil writes for Atlanta Hawks Talk while also managing all ATLSportsHQ sites. He can be reached on Twitter at @_ATLPhil

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