2021 Falcons Draft Recap: Kyle Pitts to Frank Darby, reactions and full breakdown

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THE PICKS

Table inside Article
Round (Pick) Position Player School
1 (4) TE Kyle Pitts Florida
2 (40)* S Richie Grant UCF
3 (68) OL Jalen Mayfield Michigan
4 (108) CB Darren Hall San Diego St.
4 (114)* OL Drew Dalman Stanford
5 (148) DT Ta'Quon Graham Texas
5 (182) DE Adetokunbo Ogundeji Notre Dame
5 (183) CB Avery Williams Boise State
6 (187) WR Frank Darby Arizona St.

DAY 1

Round 1 | TE Kyle Pitts

The Falcons took Florida tight end, Kyle Pitts, with the fourth overall selection of the 2021 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-6, 245-pound tight end tallied 100 receptions for 1,492 yards (14.9 avg.) and 18 touchdowns in 32 career games over three seasons (2018-20) for the Florida Gators. Pitts recorded 43 receptions for 770 yards (17.9 avg.) and 12 touchdowns in eight games last season, earning unanimous first-team All-America honors and the Mackey Award - given to college football's most outstanding tight end. 

"He's an elite tight end, and he's an elite wide receiver," Florida Head Coach Dan Mullen said at Pitts' Pro Day. "He's such a dynamic player and he has so much versatility."  

Pitts is the second tight end to be selected in the first round by the Falcons in franchise history, joining Junior Miller in 1980.

SCOUTING REPORT 

Danny Kelly, The Ringer

"Athletic, versatile joker tight end who can line up all over the formation; he wins at the catch point with elite body control, strong hands, and rare length." 

Dane Brugler, The Athletic

"Pitts boasts special athleticism to separate in coverage and the elite pass-catching skills to be a mismatch playmaker similar to Darren Waller. He projects as a unique "move" tight end and one of the best talents in this draft." 

Pro Football Focus

"He'd be a first-rounder even if you considered him solely a receiver. How many past TEs can we say that about?"

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING 

"He's a tough, competitive player. When you watch the tape, that's what you like about him. Obviously, you see the plays that he makes as a receiver, but he's also, again, a tough, competitive guy. He has a makeup off the field, but it translates to the field, as well." - _GM Terry Fontenot _

"He is a can't-miss prospect. He is a mismatch nightmare. Great pick." - CBSSports.com columnist Pete Prisco

DAY 2

Round 2 | S Richie Grant

Atlanta selected safety Richie Grant with the 40th overall pick. The Falcons traded second-round (35th overall) and sixth-round (219th overall) picks to the Denver Broncos in exchange for second (40th) and fourth-round picks (114th).  

The six-foot, 194-pound safety from UCF totaled 291 tackles, 29 pass breakups, 10 interceptions, 11.5 tackles for loss, and seven forced fumbles in four seasons. In 2020, Grant started nine of 10 games – including eight starts at safety – and registered 72 tackles, three interceptions, two fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and one QB hit. According to Pro Football Focus, Grant was the highest-graded safety in run-defense in the NCAA in the 2020 season. Grant is the second player the Falcons have selected from UCF in franchise history, joining safety/linebacker Kemal Ishmael who was selected in the seventh round of the 2013 Draft.

SCOUTING REPORT 

Danny Kelly, The Ringer

"Rangy, instinctive defensive back who plays with an aggressive style and brings top-tier ball-hawking skills." 

Dane Brugler, The Athletic

"Overall, Grant needs to iron out some consistency issues, but he has NFL starting-level range, eyes and ball-hawking tendencies. He projects as a single-high or split safety who will compete for starting reps as a rookie." 

Pro Football Focus

"He's done it all over the course of his UCF career. Sees the game develop at a high level. Will break on balls without even looking at QB. Breaks from off coverage in lockstep with receivers. No wasted time. Stout lower half and solid tackler. Can stick running backs in their tracks despite weight."

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING 

"He's a high-character, tough, smart, competitive, extremely passionate player. I'm sure you guys watched some of his tape. He's a fun guy to watch, throws his body around, takes the ball away. He's versatile, fits the ethos. He's going to be a fun player." _GM Terry Fontenot _

"Favorite pick of the second round so far. Grant is capable of anything you need out of your safety in today's NFL. Super-twitchy. Very experienced and can legitimately cover the slot. Good tackler too. Atlanta needed this type of defensive back." _CBSSports.com draft analyst Chris Trapasso _

Round 3 | OL Jalen Mayfield

The Falcons selected Michigan offensive lineman Jalen Mayfield with the 68th overall pick. 

The six-foot-five, 328-pound offensive lineman played three seasons at Michigan, appearing in 18 games and making 15 starts. Mayfield anchored an offensive line that paved the way for a running game that gained over 2,200 yards with 26 rushing touchdowns in the 2019 season. In 18 games, the Michigan-native only allowed two sacks. Mayfield is the fifth player the franchise has drafted from the University of Michigan and the first since 1978. He joins T James Coode, T Mike Kenn, LB Cart Russ, and RB Bill Taylor. The Falcons have picked an offensive lineman in back-to-back drafts in the third round, drafting Matt Hennessy last year with the 78th overall pick.

SCOUTING REPORT 

Danny Kelly, The Ringer

"Steadfast offensive lineman, with light feet, the versatility to play multiple positions, and an aggressive demeanor." 

Dane Brugler, The Athletic

"Overall, Mayfield can survive at tackle, but his skill set will be maximized inside at guard with the coordination, power and awareness to compete for a starting role by year two." 

Pro Football Focus

"Does not move like a 320-pounder. Very nimble big man who holds the weight easily. No fear of the bull rush. Very strong core. Ridiculously powerful for being only 20 years old. So many reps ended on the turf. Saw marked improvement from 2019 to 2020."

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING 

"Jalen [Mayfield], big, massive man. He's athletic, versatile. He's smart, tough, competitive. Again, another guy that we're excited about what he's going to bring on the offensive line." _GM Terry Fontenot _

"Mayfield is a great third-round pick for the Falcons, who badly needed O-line depth and found a powerful blocker who should shift inside from tackle quite nicely." NFL.com draft analyst Chad Rueter

Round 4a | DB Darren Hall

The Falcons selected San Diego State defensive back Darren Hall in the fourth round (108th overall) of the 2021 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-0, 190-pound defensive back recorded 134 total tackles (101 solo), 31 passes defensed, six interceptions, 7.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles in four seasons (2017-20) for the Aztecs. 

Hall earned first-team All-Mountain West honors in 2020 after tallying 38 total tackles (31 solo), three interceptions, and nine passes defensed in eight games last season.  

Hall is the eighth player from San Diego State to be selected by the Falcons in franchise history and the first since Damontae Kazee in 2017.

SCOUTING REPORT 

Dane Brugler, The Athletic

"Hall has some things to tidy up with his body position and footwork in coverage, but his press-man skills are NFL ready and he offers the toughness, athleticism and ball skills that should translate to the pro game." 

Pro Football Focus

"Hall started for the Aztecs since 2018, and after a middling first year, he grew into one of the best corners in the Group of Five. Over the past two seasons, he racked up four picks and 14 pass breakups —many of which came via quick diagnoses." 

Brent Sobleski, Bleacher Report

"The secondary overhaul continues for the Atlanta Falcons. In the second round, the team chose Richie Grant, who immediately becomes a physical tone-setter for the entire group. Darren Hall will have an opportunity to compete with Kendall Sheffield, Isaiah Oliver and Fabian Moreau to play opposite last year's first-round pick, A.J. Terrell."

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING 

"Hall is a sudden outside corner who had steady production in college. Falcons add more to their secondary, which absolutely was necessary. High-floor player with the athleticism needed to start early." CBSSports.com draft analyst Chris Trapasso

Round 4b | OL Drew Dalman

The Falcons selected Stanford offensive lineman Drew Dalman in the fourth round (114th overall) of the 2021 NFL Draft. The 6-foot-3, 300-pound offensive lineman started 22 of 25 games (20 at center, two at guard) over three seasons (2018-20) for the Cardinal.  

A team captain, Dalman earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors as a senior in 2020 after not allowing a single pressure and fortifying a Stanford offensive line that did not allow a sack all season last year. 

Dalman's father, Chris, played seven seasons (1993-99) for the San Francisco 49ers before serving as the assistant offensive line coach for the Falcons from 2005-06.

SCOUTING REPORT 

Dane Brugler, The Athletic

"A three-year starter at Stanford, Dalman lined up at center in offensive coordinator Tavita Pritchard's pro-style scheme. He grew up in a Stanford family and despite being the lowest-ranked recruit in the team's 2017 class, he started every game at center the last two seasons and earned All-Pac 12 honors both years. As the son of a Super Bowl-winning lineman and accomplished offensive line coach, Dalman is well-schooled with his blocking techniques and competes with a quick processor." 

Pro Football Focus

"Dalman's tape from this past season displays some of the most defined strengths and weaknesses of any interior offensive lineman in the class. His hands are top-notch, helping him earn a 90.1 run-blocking grade this past season ... He's an outside-zone scheme center only, which limits his market. Don't be surprised if he carves out a long career for himself with his skill set, though."

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING 

"One of the NFL-ready centers in this class. Assignment sound, explosive athlete with great handwork. But like most interior linemen, he needs to improve the anchor. Pro Bowl ceiling." _CBSSports.com draft analyst Chris Trapasso _

"The son of a former NFL lineman and coach, Dalman is unsurprisingly a quality technician with an excellent feel for hand usage and staying connected to his blocks. His biggest issue will be his lack of NFL size, which could impact his draft standing. He's not strong by NFL standards, but plays with leverage and leg drive to win many more than he loses at the point of attack." - Lance Zierlein, NFL Analyst

Round 5a | DL Ta'Quon Graham

The Falcons selected Texas defensive lineman Ta'Quon Graham in the fifth round (148th overall) of the 2021 NFL Draft. At 6-foot-4, 294-pounds, Graham appeared in 48 career games with 24 starts over four seasons (2017-20) for the Longhorns and recorded 72 total tackles (41 solo), 23 tackles for loss, 7.0 sacks, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. 

Graham earned All-Big 12 honorable mention in 2020 after tallying 23 total tackles (12 solo), seven tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, and one fumble recovery in nine games.

SCOUTING REPORT 

Dane Brugler, The Athletic

"A two-year starter at Texas, Graham lined up at defensive tackle in former defensive coordinator Chris Ash's hybrid 4-2-5 scheme. He arrived in Austin as an edge defender but filled out his frame and moved inside to post 19.0 tackles for loss over 22 games in two different schemes the last two seasons. Graham has a projectable frame with long arms and massive hands to get underneath blockers' pads, control the point and shuck his man." 

Pro Football Focus

"Graham has the body type that can fit into every defensive line in America. With a muscular frame and ridiculously long arms, he doesn't need a lot of technique to see an NFL field. That's good because there's not much refinement in Graham's game outside of his hand placement. He's excellent at stacking opposing offensive linemen, as evidenced by his 87.1 and 84.1 run-defense grades over the past two years. He's not yet excellent at shedding and making plays, as evidence by his 24 total run stops over that span."

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING 

"Texas' Ta'Quon Graham is an enigma. At 6'3", 292 pounds, he's an undersized interior defender who happens to be excellent against the run. In some ways, Graham fits the profile of what Atlanta likes at defensive tackle." - _Bleacher Report draft analyst Brent Sobleski _

"Graham was a top-150 overall recruit nationally out of Texas when he signed on to play in Austin for then-head coach Charlie Strong. When Tom Herman was hired to replace Strong, Graham stuck to his commitment. He played in 12 games as a reserve as a true freshman (six tackles, two for loss, with one sack), then got two starts the following season while playing in 14 contests in total (12 tackles, two for loss). Herman started Graham in all 13 games in 2019, allowing him to post 31 tackles, 12 for loss, with 3.5 sacks. Big 12 coaches voted him honorable mention all-conference his senior year (23 tackles, seven for loss, with two sacks)." - _NFL.com draft analyst Chad Rueter _

Round 5b | DL Adetokunbo Ogundeji

The Falcons selected Notre Dame defensive lineman Adetokumbo Ogundeji in the fifth round (182nd overall) of the 2021 NFL Draft. The West Bloomfield, Mich., native tallied 80 total tackles (44 solo), 17 tackles for loss, 13.0 sacks, six forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries in four seasons (2017-20) for the Fighting Irish.  

A team captain in 2020, Ogundeji recorded 23 total tackles (15 solo), a career-high and team-leading 7.0 sacks, seven tackles for loss, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery in 12 games last season earning All-ACC honorable mention.

SCOUTING REPORT 

Dane Brugler, The Athletic

"A one-year starter at Notre Dame, Ogundeji lined up at field defensive end in former defensive coordinator Clark Lea's four-man front. With only one start over his first four years on campus in South Bend, he patiently waited his turn and became a captain in 2020, leading the team in sacks. A talented height/weight/speed prospect, Ogundeji has intriguing length and pursuit ability." 

Justis Mosqueda, Bleacher Report

"Adetokunbo Ogundeji hasn't started many games of football but has the tools (length, hands, leverage, athleticism) to develop into an NFL starter. He does not have the upside to be a star, but the 2020 team captain is trending upward in his career and is close to a point where he would, at the very least, be a staple of a pass-rushing rotation. The 4-3 defensive end prospect should begin his career as a rotational player before potentially blossoming into a starting role for a team."

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING 

"There were times the past two seasons when Ogundeji displayed himself as a dominant force upfront for Notre Dame and looked like a terrific next-level prospect … The bottom line is that Ogundeji comes with a terrific amount of upside as well as growth potential and could develop into a starting defensive lineman in the NFL." - _Pro Football Network analyst Tony Pauline _

Round 5c | Avery Williams

The Falcons selected Boise State cornerback Avery Williams in the fifth round (183rd overall) of the 2021 NFL Draft. The 5-foot-9, 195-pound defensive back, and return specialist appeared in 48 games over four seasons for the Broncos. The Pasadena, Calif., native posted 152 career tackles, 26 passes defensed, four interceptions, and five fumble recoveries.  

On special teams, Williams totaled 38 kick returns for 1,042 yards and three touchdowns. He also added 82 punt returns for 948 yards and six touchdowns. A former walk-on at Boise State, Williams was named the Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Year each of the past two seasons (2019-20).

SCOUTING REPORT

Dane Brugler, The Athletic

"A four-year starter at Boise State, Williams was the field cornerback in former defensive coordinator Jeff Schmedding's scheme. He was an elite special teams player for the Broncos, recording nine career touchdowns (five punt returns, three kick returns and one blocked punt return), five blocks (three punts, one field goal, one extra-point) and a forced fumble on kickoff coverage. Williams plays with the competitive make-up and heightened awareness that NFL teams want in their cornerbacks." 

Drae Harris, The Draft Network

"In the passing game, while he lacks ideal NFL measurables for the outside, his skill set translates favorably as a sub-package player. He has good short-area agility and tackling ability to align inside. In the run game, he is a willing tackler, with good tackling efficiency on wide receivers. He also adds value by excelling as a special teams player both on coverage units and as a returner."

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING 

"He will have every opportunity to go back there and compete [in the return game], whether it's punt returns or a spot on defense, maybe offense. He's a very unique player." - _Head Coach Arthur Smith _

"Could see a similar career journey as current Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Jamal Agnew, who transitioned from cornerback to the offensive side of the ball in Detroit, all while thriving as a dangerous return specialist. Williams was a talented high school running back, so a move to a hybrid gadget player with run and pass-catching potential isn't a crazy notion. His lack of size could be exploited as a corner, which will be a concern for teams who prefer not to carry strictly return specialists on their roster. He's athletic and smooth with fluidity to turn, cut or wiggle without losing his speed. He's been a home run hitter as a returner and he's a legitimate threat to block a kick and must be accounted for." - NFL Analyst Lance Zierlein

Round 6 | WR Frank Darby

The Falcons selected wide receiver Frank Darby with the 187th overall pick. At six-foot-one, 200 pounds, Darby played 40 career games at Arizona State, totaling 67 receptions for 1,317 yards and 13 touchdowns. In 2020, Darby posted six receptions for 46 yards and one touchdown in three games as he was limited due to injury.

SCOUTING REPORT

Nate Tice, Bleacher Report

Frank Darby is a very good deep-ball tracker who can bring verticality to any offense. Darby is an adequate athlete and a bit of a one-trick pony, as he lacks polish and consistency with his short and intermediate route running and will need to keep improving to be able to contribute as an every-down player. But his ability to win on deep routes (his play speed is markedly better than his timed speed) combined with his hands, body control and ball-tracking ability help him consistently take the top off the defense. Darby also plays with a competitive edge and has the size to project well on special teams.

AJ Schulte, Pro Football Network

The Falcons obviously have Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley as the top two wide receivers. Russell Gage also enjoyed a solid breakout 2020 campaign as the WR3, filling in admirably down the stretch. However, the depth behind those three is questionable, and there's no guarantee Julio and Gage are around past 2021. Adding Frank Darby is a smart grab this late.

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING

"Darby wins with long speed (he plays faster than he timed) and flashes very good deep ball tracking ability, but is a work in progress with his routes." - Bleacher Report scout Nate Tice

"I highlighted Frank Darby at Arizona State playing for Herm. Herm had N'Keal Harry, a first-round pick. Then last year he had Brandon Aiyuk. Now it's Frank Darby's turn to be the guy. He's been a vertical stretch guy until now. Now that 30-plus catches is expected to be 60-plus catches. He has to be the man there." - ESPN Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.

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