Skip to main content

How national analysts grade the 2024 Falcons draft class

The Falcons made eight total picks in the 2024 NFL Draft. 

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. — The 2024 NFL Draft has come to a close. The Falcons made their picks, and now national analysts have made their grades.

The Falcons selected eight players to their incoming rookie class:

  1. Michael Penix Jr., QB, No. 8 (first round)
  2. Ruke Orhorhoro, DT, No. 35 (second round)
  3. Bralen Trice, OLB, No. 74 (third round)
  4. Brandon Dorlus, DT, No. 109 (fourth round)
  5. JD Bertrand, ILB, No. 143 (fifth round)
  6. Jase McClellan, RB, No. 186 (sixth round)
  7. Casey Washington, WR, No. 187 (sixth round)
  8. Zion Logue, DT, No. 197 (sixth round)

While many analysts have assessed this Atlanta draft class with raised eyebrows, the Falcons' leadership members are confident they've made selections that will help in the short-term and also build the future.

Check out the full grades below:


Chad Reuter, NFL

  • Falcons overall grade: C+

Reuter's analysis: "It was a strange draft for the Falcons, primarily because of the Penix selection, which was perplexing given their investment in Kirk Cousins this offseason. Penix's strong arm and accuracy from the pocket could make him a star if the injury woes that plagued him at Indiana don't return. Trading up to grab the athletic Orhorhoro was a reach, in my opinion, especially given the team's need at corner. Trice met a crucial need on the edge.

"Dorlus fits the mold of Atlanta's defensive linemen. He should be able to play 5-technique or 3-technique depending on where he is needed. Bertrand should contribute on special teams before moving to defense in time. McClellan and Washington -- who broke out as a senior at Illinois -- offer depth at the skill positions. They'll need to find cornerbacks in the undrafted free agent pool after failing to address the position in the draft."

Mel Kiper, ESPN

  • Falcons overall grade: C

Kiper's analysis: "With the No. 8 pick, I long considered the Falcons as owning the biggest pivot point in Round 1. Would they trade down to make a deal with a team moving up for a quarterback? Would they stay put and take the first defender off the board? They had options, all of which could help a defense that had just 16 takeaways last season, which ranked 29th in the league.

"With the addition of quarterback Kirk Cousins, this is a team built to win the NFC South now, but it had to draft significant contributors on the other side of the ball.

"And then Atlanta's selection was turned in on Thursday night, and there were mouths agape in the crowd here in Detroit. Look, we can debate Michael Penix Jr.'s (8) talent all we want, but the Falcons had a chance to improve their defense with the best prospects still on the board and didn't take it. Instead, they chose a quarterback to sit behind a guy to whom they just gave $100 million guaranteed. I just don't get the logic here, and it's not like Penix is raw, either. He turns 24 in May and has played a ton of football. It was one of the most shocking picks I can remember in Round 1.

"GM Terry Fontenot got much better value on his next three picks. Defensive tackle Ruke Orhorhoro (35) is a stout run-defender, but Fontenot had to give up his extra third-rounder to move up eight spots to get Orhorhoro. Atlanta doubled up at the position with Brandon Dorlus (109), who I thought could sneak into Round 3. Fontenot also snagged edge rusher Bralen Trice (74), who had 16 sacks over the past two seasons. At least the Falcons helped their needs here.

"It's not very difficult to grade this one in the moment based on the value of what Fontenot did in Round 1, even if I like a few other players in the class."

Chris Trapasso, CBS

  • Falcons overall grade: C+

Trapasso's: "There's no one right way to build a team, and let's such say my drafting philosophy doesn't jive with Falcons GM Terry Fontenot. And that's fine. The Penix pick makes my head hurt, and a sizable trade up for a defensive tackle in Round 2? Don't get me wrong, Orhorhoro was one of my favorite interior rushers -- he's big, strong, and explosive -- but trading multiple picks to get him?

"Trice and Dorlus have a distinct possibility to become the two best value selections from this class. They're so diverse in how they can get to the quarterback from their respective positions, and Dorlus can align anywhere. Bertand is heady but misses too many tackles for my liking, and Washington is an inflexible back-shoulder type."

Trevor Sikkema, PFF

  • Falcons overall grade: C-

Sikkema's analysis: "Penix — This is the first shocker of the night. Penix had gained more first-round buzz leading up to tonight, but no one thought the Falcons were in the quarterback market after signing Kirk Cousins this offseason. Penix was the only quarterback in college football who recorded more than 40 big-time throws during the 2023 season. Atlanta clearly values his skill set and will look to develop him behind Cousins.

"Orhorhoro — Atlanta gives up its third-round pick to move up eight spots and take the 67th-ranked player on the PFF big board. Orhorhoro is a powerful, athletic defensive lineman with some versatility along the defensive line. That didn't translate to high-level production at the college level, though, as he posted a sub-50th percentile pass-rush grade on true pass sets over the past two seasons. With several talented interior defensive linemen left on the board, this is a bet on his athleticism and continued development in the NFL.

"Trice — Trice was one of the most productive pass-rushers over the past two seasons. This is the right spot for him, as the Falcons finally get the edge defender many expected them to grab early in the first round. Trice earned 90.0-plus pass-rush grades in each of the past two seasons and racked up 150 total pressures from 869 pass-rushing snaps in that span.

"Dorlus — Dorlus was a force for the Ducks in 2023, as his 46 QB pressures ranked third among draft-eligible defensive tackles. His 134 total pressures since 2021 is the best mark in the country in that span for his position.

"Bertrand — An intelligent and competitive linebacker, Bertrand provided value in coverage and as a pass-rusher over the past few seasons and should be a solid contributor on special teams at the next level. He has allowed no touchdowns in coverage the past two seasons and tallied a career-high 30 quarterback pressures as a blitzer in 2023.

"McClellan — A reliable back out of Alabama, McClellan has lost just one fumble in his career on over 350 carries, displaying solid wiggle and contact balance on his way to forcing 49 missed tackles in 2023. He joins a stable of backs behind Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier, limiting his offensive ceiling in Year 1.

"Washington — It took a few years in Illinois' offensive system to finally break out, but Washington is a reliable blocker and smooth mover who racked up 13 contested catches in 2023. He could find his way into a rotation if he can prove his value on special teams, something worth betting on due to his competitiveness and sneaky athleticism.

"Logue — The Falcons draft an interior defender for the third time in this draft. Logue is coming off his best season, earning career-highs in overall grade (71.2) and run-defense grade (72.7) in 2023. Given the players drafted ahead of him, he will face an uphill battle for snaps as a rookie."

Rob Maaddi, The Associated Press

  • Falcons overall grade: C-

Maaddi's analysis: "QB Michael Penix Jr. at No. 8 was the most stunning pick of the draft because Kirk Cousins just received $100 million guaranteed. DL Ruke Orhorhor (35) and DE Bralen Trice (74) bolster the defense. Reached on some of their Day 3 picks after starting strong with DL Brandon Dorius in the fourth round."

Danny Kelly, The Ringer

  • Falcons overall grade: C

Kelly's: "The Michael Penix Jr. selection was as perplexing as any pick in this draft, and I say that as someone who actually likes Penix and believes he can be a future starter. It's just tough to reconcile with the fact this team just gave Kirk Cousins a four-year, $180 million deal that keeps him in Atlanta for at least two seasons. We may not see the soon-to-be 24-year old Penix until 2026, or beyond, which makes passing on a day-one contributor a tremendous opportunity cost. Outside of the Penix pick, Atlanta did well to beef up their defensive front on Day 2 and Day 3: The team traded up for Clemson defensive tackle Ruke Orhorhoro in the second round, before adding a disruptive edge rusher in Washington's Bralen Trice in the third and the versatile Oregon defensive lineman Brandon Dorlus in the fourth. The Falcons got better on their defensive front, but the short-term implications of taking Penix so early pulled down their overall grade."

Related Content