Atlanta Falcons Draft Guide

The Falcons hold six picks in the 2020 draft, including their own selections in each of the first four rounds, an additional fourth round pick acquired in the Hayden Hurst trade, and a seventh-round pick acquired in the trade that sent Duke Riley to Philadelphia.

Table inside Article
Round Pick Number (Number in Round)
Round 1 16th Overall
Round 2 47th Overall (15)
Round 3 78th Overall (14)
Round 4 119th Overall (13)
Round 4 134th Overall (28)*
Round 7 228th Overall (14)^
Selection Notes *from BAL | ^from TB via PHI

Day One

Baring a trade, this will be the third time the Falcons have picked in the No. 16 spot. The last was 1983, when Atlanta took Mike Pitts a defensive tackle from the University of Alabama. Pitts would go on to play 12 years in the NFL, including four with the Falcons. He started 33 of the 62 games he played in Atlanta, logging 299 tackles and 25 sacks.

Atlanta also made the 16th pick in the 1966 draft, selecting quarterback Randy Johnson out of Texas A&M-Kingsville as the second selection in franchise history – 15 picks after Tommy Nobis became the first player chosen by the newly minted club.

While the draft always has been and always will be an inexact science, the 16th pick has been a good place to pick an impact player over the years. According to Pro Football Reference, which dates back to 1932, the 16th pick has yielded 10 first-team All-Pros, 19 Pro Bowlers – including 15 players that made multiple Pro Bowl trips – and a pair of Pro Football Hall of Famers in Jerry Rice (1985) and Troy Polamalu (2003).

Other notable players selected at 16 in recent history include All-Pros Marlon Humphrey (Ravens – 2017), Zack Martin (Cowboys – 2014), Shawn Andrews (Eagles - 2004), Julian Peterson (49ers - 2000), and Jevon Kearse (Titans - 1999) as well as Pro Bowlers Tremaine Edmunds (Bills – 2018), Ryan Kerrigan (Redskins - 2011), Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (Cardinals - 2008), and Santana Moss (Jets – 2001).

This will make you look smart on Twitter - Sports Radio 92.9 the Game morning show host Hugh Douglas was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles with the 16th overall pick in the 1995 draft. He was a first-team All-Pro and a three-time Pro Bowler.

Day Two

Atlanta's second selection will come with the 47th overall pick, which will be the 15th choice in the second round. Friday evening will mark the first time the Falcons have picked 47th in the club's history. The pick has proven to be a good place pick up a contributing player as player selected 47th overall have combined to make 431 starts since 2010.

The 47th overall selection has seen three first-team All-Pros and six Pro Bowlers, including wide receiver Michael Thomas (Saints - 2016) and linebacker Bobby Wagner (Seahawks - 2012).

This will make you look smart on Twitter - The Jets selected kicker Mike Nugent with the 47th overall pick in the 2005 draft. Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 only four kickers have been picked early than Nugent. Sebastian Janikowski (17th | 2000), John Lee (32nd | 1986), Steve Little (15th | 1987), and Chester Marcoi (34th | 1972).

Atlanta's second day two pick will be the club's first time making 78th overall selection. Recently, this has been a spot for linebackers and guards as five of the last six players taken 78th have been those positions. Overall, the 78th pick has yielded eight All-Pros, 15 Pro Bowlers and two Pro Football Hall of Famers in Danny Fortmann (Bears – 1936) and Gene Hickerson (Browns - 1958).

Thomas Dimitroff has had a good deal of success finding solid contributors in the third round during his 12 drafts, selected Pro Bowlers Thomas DeCoud (2008) and Austin Hooper (2016) as well as players that proved to fill key roles Tevin Coleman (2017) and Corey Peters (2010).

This will make you look smart on Twitter – Wide receiver has been the most popular pick at 78 with 12 receivers taken there since 1974 but the last wide receiver taken at 78 was Marquise Goodwin (Bills – 2013).

Day Three

The Falcons will kick off day three with a pair of picks as they hold two selections in the fourth round. Atlanta will make the 119th overall pick for the first time since pulling Pittsburgh linebacker Ralph Cindrich's name off the board in 1972. Cindrich never played in a game for the Falcons, but he went on to play 36 career games between Houston, New England, and Denver.

There have been seven All-Pros and 10 Pro Bowlers selected 119th overall but the most impressive would be Pro Football Hall of Famer George Blanda, who was chosen 119th by the Chicago Bears in 1949. More recently, the 119th selection was the pick when running back Tyrik Cohen (Bears - 2017) and wide receiver Brandon Marshall (Broncos - 2006) heard their names called. Former Falcons coaching assistant Lance Schulters was selected 119th by the 49ers in the 1998 draft.

This will make you look smart on Twitter – Ralph Cindrich went on to become a player agent and he represented Falcons legend Bill Fralic. He was featured in Michael Lewis' best-selling book 'The Blind Side' and wrote a book of his own titled 'A Player Turned Agent's Forty Years in the Bloody Trenches of the National Football League'.

The Falcons picked up a second fourth rounder from Baltimore in the trade that brought Hayden Hurst to the ATL. Their fifth pick in the 2020 draft will be the 134th overall. That pick has produced solid players, including former Falcon fullback Ovie Mughelli who was selected by the Ravens in the 2003 draft. Mughelli gave the Falcons a full house of Pro Bowlers in the backfield in 2010 as he joined Matt Ryan and Michael Turner in Hawaii.

In addition to Mughelli, periennal Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kyle Williams was selected by the Bills in 2006 with the 134th overall pick. Those two are joined as Pro Bowlers by Jim Mutscheller, the 134th overall pick by the Dallas Texans in the 1952 draft.

Dimitroff has hit on several players in the fourth round during his tenure in Atlanta. Last year, the Falcons selected Ohio State cornerback Kendall Sheffield, who developed into a consistent contributor to the defense as the season wore on. The Falcons also grabbed John Cominsky out of Charleston (WV), a raw prospect that the club believes can grow into an important piece of the front seven. In years past, Dimitroff has nabbed players like Ito Smith (2018), De'Vondre Campbell (2016), Justin Hardy (2015), and Devonta Freeman (2015).

This will make you look smart on Twitter – When the Dallas Texans selected Jim Mutscheller with the 134th overall pick in 1952, that was first pick in the 12th round. That draft featured 30 rounds with all but the first round (13) consisting of 12 picks.

The Falcons will wrap up the 2020 draft with the 228th overall selection. There has been one All-Pro player and three Pro Bowlers selected with that pick, including 1971 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Andy Robustelli, who was selected as the 228th pick by the Los Angeles Rams in 1951.

Atlanta has made the 228th pick twice in its history, first in 1980 when the club selected West Texas A&M center Glen Keller and five years later in 1985 with North Carolina linebacker Micah Moon.

This will make you look smart on Twitter – The first draft, held in 1936, saw 81 players selected over nine rounds. The draft has been held in its current seven-round format since 1994. That year the league also added 32 'compensatory picks'. The last time the draft had more-than seven rounds was 1993 when eight rounds were held.

Open For Business

Dimitroff has been fond of letting others around the NFL know that the Falcons are "open for business" when it comes to trades. This has earned him the moniker 'Trader Thomas' when April rolls around each year. In the 12 drafts that he has overseen as general manager, Dimitroff has made 17 draft-day trades, including five trades to either move up or get back into the first round.

Quick to make decisive and bold moves in his efforts to improve the team, Dimitroff wasted little time showing that he was willing to be aggressive. In 2008, after selecting Matt Ryan to be franchise cornerstone, Trader Thomas sprang into action, dealing two second-round picks and a fourth rounder to the Washington Redskins in exchange for the 21st, 84th, and 154th overall selections. He used extra first rounder to get Ryan a left tackle in USC's Sam Baker, the 84th on Louisville wide out Harry Douglas, and the 154th on Montana defensive end Kroy Biermann. The trio would go on to play in 307 combined games.

Dimitroff would make a few mid-round moves in 2009 and 2010 but his piece de resistance came in 2011 when he moved up 21 spots from 27th to 6th to secure All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones. It took an exchange of first rounders as well as a second, and fourth round pick in 2011 in addition to Atlanta's first and fourth round picks in 2012 to get the deal done. It was a bold move and a steep price but Jones has caught 797 passes for 12,125 yards and 57 touchdowns, earned two first-team All-Pro selections and made seven Pro Bowl squads. It's hard to argue with those results.

Even after that monster trade, Dimitroff wasn't done. He shipped fifth- and seventh-round picks to move up in the fifth for Jacquizz Rodgers who was a jack-of-all trades back for Atlanta for four seasons before moving on to Chicago and Tampa Bay.

More mid-round moves followed in 2012 before Dimitroff made another first round move in 2013. Holding the 30th pick after a 13-3 season and a trip to the NFC Championship game, Dimitroff sent that pick along with a sixth rounder to the Rams in exchange for the 22nd overall pick, which yielded Pro Bowl cornerback Desmond Trufant. 

Several key contributors to the Falcons have been acquired through Dimitroff's deft maneuvering of draft-day trades. In 2015, he had his sights set on a defensive tackle from just up I-85 at Clemson. Dimitroff swapped fifth- and sixth-round picks with the Vikings in order to move up nine spots to grab Conyers, Ga. native Grady Jarrett.

The next year he would again make a move to secure a key defensive component, flipping the 50th overall pick to the Houston Texans for the 52nd and 195th overall picks. Dimitroff pulled LSU linebacker Deion Jones' name off the board at 52 and grabbed consistent contributor Wes Schweitzer at 195. 

Knowing he needed to help bolster the pass rush and seeing players with that particular set of skills coming off the board in 2017, Dimitroff traded the 31st, 95th, and 249th picks to jump in front of Dallas and grab Takk McKinley at 26. People may forget that the Falcons had to trade up for McKinley, but they'll never forget McKinley's impassioned reaction on the draft stage in Philadelphia. Dimitroff would also move the 63rd overall pick to Buffalo for three of the Bills selections. That trade brought current Falcons running back Brian Hill and safety Damontae Kazee.

In 2018, Dimitroff made his third move in as many years to scoop up a player from LSU, exchanging the 244th and 256th picks with the Rams to take Russell Gage at 194. The two picks Atlanta sent to LA in this trade were both seventh rounders, including the final pick of the draft, 256, known as Mr. Irrelevant.

Last year was one of Dimitroff's busiest in terms of making deals. Knowing they needed to improve the offensive line, Dimitroff went back to Chestnut Hill, Mass. For the second time, selecting Boston College guard Chris Lindstrom with the Falcons first round pick. He then traded the 45th and 79th overall picks to, you guessed it, the Rams to grab Washington tackle Kaleb McGary with the 31st pick, literally and figuratively beefing up the right side of the Falcons offensive line. 

He would also make a pair of moves in the fourth round to move up and select cornerback Kendall Sheffield (111th from Detroit) and defense end John Cominsky (135th from Las Vegas).

Pick Breakdown

Entering the 2020 draft, Dimitroff has selected 80 players from 60 different colleges and universities over the 12 drafts he has overseen. He has turned to Baton Rouge, La. most often, selecting six players from Louisiana State University. Atlanta has picked three players from Alabama, Clemson, Washington, San Jose State, and Wisconsin during that time.

The team has spread things around in the first round, selecting 12 players from nine different schools. That includes the 2012 draft when Atlanta did not have a first round selection - the pick was sent to Cleveland in the trade to acquire Julio Jones – and the 2019 draft when Atlanta made two first-round picks after trading its second and third rounders to the Rams to get back into round one.

Over that span, Atlanta has selected two players from Boston College (Matt Ryan & Chris Lindstrom), Alabama (Julio Jones & Calvin Ridley), and Washington (Desmond Trufant & Kaleb McGary) in the first round.

Since 2008, the Falcons have looked to the top conferences in college football when making their draft selections. Atlanta has most often turned to the SEC. They have also frequently targeted players from Pac-12 and ACC schools.

While the Falcons certainly focus on the football factory schools, they haven't been afraid to look at lesser known prospects from smaller schools. Atlanta has picked players from FCS schools; Yale, Drake, Eastern Washington, South Dakota, Southeastern Louisiana, Montana, Richmond, and Furman. In 2019, Atlanta selected John Cominsky from the Division II program, University of Charleston (WV).

Under Dimitroff, the Falcons have frequently targeted defensive backs, selecting 22 players at either cornerback or safety, including Pro Bowlers, Keanu Neal, Desmond Trufant, William Moore, and Thomas DeCoud. The next most common position drafted by Atlanta has been linebacker with 15 picks, including Pro Bowlers Deion Jones and Vic Beasley. Atlanta has chosen 13 offensive linemen, eight wide receivers, eight running backs, seven defensive ends, six defensive tackles, four tight ends, two quarterbacks, one kicker, and a partridge in a pear tree.

Since 2008, Atlanta has drafted 12 players that have earned Pro Bowl honors and three players that have been named first-team All-Pro.

After nine weeks of Mock Draft creation, look back at every Falcons potential first round pick suggested by digital managing editor Matt Tabeek. Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here belong to Matthew Tabeek and do not represent the opinions of the Atlanta Falcons' front office staff, coaches and executives.

The Last Time...

Since 2008, the Falcons have relied on a team building approach that is centered around the draft. To that end, the majority of Atlanta's foundational players have been acquired through the draft, including Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Jake Matthews, Deion Jones, Grady Jarrett, and Ricardo Allen. While the team has built its foundation through the draft the club has supplemented key positions in free agency with past additions like Alex Mack and current moves to pick up Dante Fowler Jr. and Todd Gurley. 

With an eye towards picking up core players in the draft, Atlanta has selected a variety of positions at different places in the draft. Below is a look at the last time the Falcons have picked each primary position.

Table inside Article
Position Year Round Player (College)
QB 2013 7th Round Sean Renfree (Duke)
RB 2019 5th Round Qadree Ollison (Pitt.)
WR 2019 7th Round Marcus Green (La-Monroe)
T 2019 1st Round Kaleb McGary (Wash.)
G 2019 1st Round Chris Lindstrom (BC)
G/C 2017 4th Round Sean Harlow (Ore. St.)
TE 2017 5th Round Eric Saubert (Drake)
FB 2003 4th Round Justin Griffith (Miss. St.)
K/P 2011 6th Round Matt Bosher (Miami)
Table inside Article
Position Year Round Player (School)
DE 2019 4th Round John Cominsky (Charleston)
DT 2018 3rd Round Deadrin Senat (S. Fla.)
LB 2018 6th Round Foye Oluokun (Yale)
CB 2019 5th Round Jordan Miller (Wash.)
FS 2017 5th Round Damontae Kazee (SD St.)
SS 2016 1st Round Keanu Neal (Florida)

Draft History

The Falcons made their first-ever draft selection with the No. 1 overall pick in the 1966 draft. The newly minted team made Texas linebacker Tommy Nobis the first player in club history. He would go on to play his entire 11-year NFL career in Atlanta and earned the moniker 'Mr. Falcon'. Nobis was inducted into the Falcons Ring of Honor in the inaugural class in 2004.

All but two members of the team's Ring of Honor were selected by the Falcons in the draft. The exceptions are Warrick Dunn, who was taken 12th overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1997 and Jessie Tuggle, who was undrafted out of Valdosta State.

Seven of the Ring of Honor inductees where selected by the Falcons in the first round, including Nobis ('66), Claude Humphrey ('68), Steve Bartkowski ('75), Mike Kenn ('78), Gerald Riggs ('82), Deion Sanders ('89), and Roddy White ('05). Jeff Van Note was selected in the 11th round of the 1969 draft with the 262nd overall pick while William Andrews went in the third round - 79th overall – 10 years later in 1979.

On January 28, 1975, the Atlanta Falcons selected QB Steve Bartkowski No. 1 overall in the NFL Draft. Take a look back at this Ring of Honor member's time with the Falcons.

The Falcons have selected three players in the draft that have gone on to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Sanders, Humphrey, and Brett Favre who was selected in the second round, 33rd overall, of the 1991 draft. He played in just two games for Atlanta before being traded to the Green Bay Packers.

While LSU leads the way in terms of Falcons picks since 2008, the Bayou Bengals have also provided the Falcons with more draft picks than any other school in the team's history. Atlanta has selected 13 LSU Tigers since 1966. Coming in second with 11 players selected are Ohio State, Oklahoma, USC, and Wisconsin. The Falcons have selected 10 players from Notre Dame and nine players each from Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, and Stanford.

Excluding Favre, the Falcons have drafted 15 players that have been named first-team All-Pro and 44 players that have earned Pro Bowl honors.

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