FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today’s Early Bird Report includes a re-grading of the Falcons' 2016 draft class, which continues to look better and better.
It didn’t take long for fans in Atlanta to realize the Falcons’ 2016 draft class was special. That class played a pivotal role in helping the Falcons reach the Super Bowl, and it has produced three Pro Bowlers to date.
At the time those players were drafted, CBS Sports’ Pete Prisco gave the class a “B” grade. Seeing some of the egg on his face, Prisco switched that mark in a recent re-grading of the 2016 draft. The Falcons were one of just three teams to earn an “A+” from Prisco this time around.
“The Falcons had a heck of a draft in 2016,” Prisco writes. “They landed safety Keanu Neal, one of their defensive leaders in the first round. Then they followed that up by getting three more starters in second-round linebacker Deion Jones, third-round tight end Austin Hooper and fourth-round linebacker De'Vondre Campbell. That's a haul, even if Neal and Jones missed significant time with injuries last year.”
The two other NFL teams that joined the Falcons in earning an “A+” from Prisco were the Cincinnati Bengals and the Dallas Cowboys. To see the rest of Prisco’s grades, click here.
Here are some other articles for Falcons fans to check out today:
NFL.com: Ed Oliver shines at Houston’s pro day
The Falcons are in the market for a defensive tackle, and there seems to be a decent chance that they could target the position with their first-round draft pick. Houston’s Ed Oliver is a player who has been linked to the Falcons very frequently in mock drafts, and he put together an eye-popping pro day on Thursday.
According to NFL.com’s Adam Maya, Oliver ran the 40-yard dash in 4.73 seconds, which is just one one-hundredth of a second slower than receiver Anquan Boldin’s 4.72-second 40-yard dash. He also ran the short shuttle drill in 4.22 seconds – faster than Saquon Barkley’s time of 4.24 seconds last year – and had a 36-inch vertical jump – just one inch shy of Von Miller’s vertical.
Oliver’s athleticism has always been apparent, but what he did at his pro day was truly impressive.
NFL.com: Top 11 WR duos in 2019
Julio Jones is arguably the most talented wide receiver in the NFL. But the Falcons have also brought in plenty of talented players to fill out their receiving corps, including Mohamed Sanu and Calvin Ridley. In a recent ranking of the 11 best wide receiver duos for 2019, NFL.com’s Gil Brandt pegged Jones and Ridley as the sixth-best in the league.
“I'm not forgetting veteran receiver Mohamed Sanu, who finished with slightly more receiving yards (838) than Ridley (821),” Brandt writes. “But Ridley is likely to have a stronger role in the passing game in 2019, coming off a rookie season in which he scored 10 times. Jones, of course, is one of the best in the game, having collected 10,731 career receiving yards, more than anyone but Antonio Brown (11,040) in the eight-season span since he entered the NFL. After negotiating a revised contract last offseason, Jones put himself in line for a pay raise with a league-high 1,677 yards in 2018. He also reached the Pro Bowl for the sixth time in his career.”
If that seems a little low for Jones and Ridley, you’re not alone. To see who Brandt has in front of them, click here.
AJC: Jarrett donates $50,000 to two local charities
Grady Jarrett was named the Falcons’ Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee in 2018, for which he received an additional $50,000. According to D. Orlando Ledbetter of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Jarrett donated those funds to two charities. Jarrett donated $25,000 of that money to Ysportz, which organizes celebrity sports camps, and another $25,000 to Atlanta D.J. Greg Street and his “We Need 2 Read” program.
Julio Jones joined Quavo and Offset from Migos and other recording artists like Gucci Mane for Huncho Day on the NAWF on Sunday. Players from around the NFL including Cam Newton, Alvin Kamara, and Josh Norman also participated in the charity event celebrating Quavo's birthday.