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Falcons receive draft grades for 2020 class

Although only time will tell how Atlanta's 2020 draft class will grade out, this doesn't stop pundits from revealing their analysis of the picks made over the weekend.

The Falcons received mostly high praise for their six selections of cornerback A.J. Terrell, defensive tackle Marlon Davidson, center/guard Matt Hennessy, linebacker Mykal Walker, safety Jaylinn Hawkins and punter Sterling Hofrichter.


Here's a closer look at draft grades for the Falcons' six picks:

  • Grade: B+
  • Analysis: "Atlanta met needs at cornerback, defensive tackle and the interior offensive line in the first three rounds. The Falcons also required help at the second level of their defense, and Walker fits that bill, although he might not have been the best player available to fill that need. Same goes for the Hawkins pick. Finding a young edge rusher post-draft should be a high priority."
  • Grade: B+
  • Analysis: "In some ways, Marlon Davidson—who played in Derrick Brown's shadow at Auburn and was somewhat underappreciated—gives the Falcons another, more innately versatile version of Takk McKinley. He is a defensive end who has the tools to work off the edge or slide inside and play defensive tackle. That's for 2020. For 2021 and beyond, Davidson potentially fills the role that the 2017 first-rounder McKinley, whose fifth-year option has not been picked up, has yet to fully maximize. After quietly going 6-2 in the second half of this season, this talented team is in "win now" mode. It needed more defensive line depth. A versatile player like Davidson can potentially solve multiple problems. The other defensive picks—fourth-rounders Mykal Walker and Jaylinn Hawkins are here to add depth. So is the first offensive choice, center Matt Hennessy, but just for now. Stud center Alex Mack has shown flickers of decline. He'll be 35 at the end of this season and no longer under contract. And so Hennessy steps into an ideal scenario: a starting job waiting in the wings, with a chance first to learn as an understudy to one of the game's great veterans."
  • Grade: B
  • Analysis: "Thomas Dimtiroff didn't waste time addressing the big cornerback need with Terrell, and Davidson was a good versatile pass rusher for their defensive front. Hennessy was a good option to upgrade left guard this year or replace Alex Mack at center next year."
  • Grade: C-
  • Analysis: "CB A.J. Terrell (Round 1), DL Marlon Davidson (Round 2) and C Matt Hennessy (Round 3) are solid. None feel like the missing piece for a team that's underachieved lately, and the final product can't help but feel flat in the wake of pre-draft buzz that GM Thomas Dimitroff had a bold, Julio Jones-level trade in the works. Never happened."
  • Grade: B
  • Analysis: "Day 1: A.J. Terrell is one of few cornerbacks in this class with high-end movement skills, and it's likely the primary reason Atlanta took him off the board at No. 16. He needs to get better at the catch point and develop better ball skills, but his match-and-mirror ability is evident on tape. LSU's Ja'Marr Chase bullied Terrell at the catch point in their matchup in 2019, but the former Clemson cornerback still put a ton of positive reps on tape and stayed in phase for the most part in that game. Terrell ranked fifth among cornerbacks and 29th among all players on PFF's board."
  • Grade: C
  • Analysis: "The pick that stunned me the most on Day 1 was Atlanta taking cornerback A.J. Terrell at No. 16. It's one of the biggest reaches of the past few years. Think of it this way: At No. 16, many teams can get a top-10 player on their own board. The Cowboys did that at No. 17 with CeeDee Lamb. Instead, Atlanta forced a pick for a position of need. Sorry, Falcons, but you're not a cornerback away from the Super Bowl. I have said for the past few weeks that there were likely to be a couple of Round 1 reaches for cornerbacks; it's a priority position, there was a drop-off after the top two guys, and teams want to make sure they get their guy. But Terrell was the No. 7 corner on my board (No. 61 prospect overall), and Noah Igbinoghene, Jeff Gladney and Jaylon Johnson were still available. Those are all better prospects than Terrell. This is just way too high. Marlon Davidson (47) is a solid pick, and he could move inside to defensive tackle, and interior offensive lineman Matt Hennessy has some versatility. Linebacker Mykal Walker (119) went almost 100 spots before I had him in my rankings.This comes down to a big-time reach in Round 1, and I just don't see Terrell as worth it."
  • Grade: B
  • Analysis: "The Falcons now must face Tom Brady, Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Brees in divisional play, so they focused on their pass defense. Taking CB A.J. Terrell was a sound move at No. 16, and second-rounder Marlon Davidson should bolster the pass rush whether he lines up at end or tackle."
  • Grade: B-
  • Analysis: "Best Pick: Third-round center Matt Hennessy should be the one to take over for Alex Mack when he's done. For now, he can compete at left guard. Worst pick: I know they needed a corner, but did they force the pick on A.J. Terrell a bit? I might have taken a different corner there, but it definitely fills a need. The Skinny: Terrell and second-round pick Marlon Davidson, a defensive end from Auburn, will both help the defense and fourth-round safety Jaylin Hawkins could be a steal. They definitely filled some major needs in this draft."

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