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Nerdy Birds: 2024 NFL Draft Guide

The board is stacked. The hay is in the barn. Now comes the fun part.

It's finally here. You've read all the mock drafts, heard all the takes, and memorized all the different trade value charts. Okay, maybe that last one is just us, but either way, the 2024 NFL Draft is finally here.

The board is stacked. The hay is in the barn. Now comes the fun part.

Atlanta holds eight selections in this year's draft, or "annual player selection meeting" if you want to get technical about it. Depending on which of those value charts you choose to use, the Falcons have around the sixth or seventh-most draft capital of any team, with four picks in the top 100 selections.

Where the Falcons Pick

2024 Falcons Draft Selections

  • Round 1 | No. 8 overall
  • Round 2 | No. 43 overall
  • Round 3 | No. 74 overall
  • Round 3 | No. 79 overall*
  • Round 4 | No. 109 overall
  • Round 5 | No. 143 overall
  • Round 6 | No. 187 overall
  • Round 6 | No. 197 overall^

*Atlanta traded WR Calvin Ridley to Jacksonville in exchange for conditional picks, including a third-round pick in 2024 based off Ridley's playing time.

^Atlanta traded LB Deion Jones and its 2024 seventh-round pick to Cleveland in exchange for a 2024 sixth-round pick.


How to Watch

The 2024 NFL Draft will be broadcast on NFL Network, ABC, ESPN, and ESPN Deportes live from Detroit, Michigan. The draft will kick off with the first round on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET, the second and third rounds beginning at 7 p.m. ET on Friday and the fourth through seventh rounds beginning at noon ET on Saturday.

Taylor Vismor, Derek Rackley, Tori McElhaney and Dave Archer will get Falcons fans primed for the evening with the 2024 Falcons Pre-Draft Show presented by Bud Light, which will air on the Falcons YouTube channel, Facebook and starting at 7:15 p.m. ET on Thursday night. You can catch the show here.

Vismor, Rackley and Archer will break down the team's roster, needs and prospects the Falcons could target, plus their picks for how the draft will shake out. The show will also feature exclusive interviews with head coach Raheem Morris and general manager Terry Fontenot as they put the finishing touches on their preparations.

Fox 5 Atlanta will air the Dirty Bird Report: Path to the Draft at 7 p.m. on Thursday. The one-hour draft special will feature an exclusive live interview with Fontenot as well as live reports from Detroit and Flowery Branch.

History of No. 8

The Falcons will pick eighth in the draft for the seventh time in franchise history and the third consecutive year.

Falcons selected eighth overall in franchise history

  • 2023 – RB Bijan Robinson - Texas
  • 2022 – WR Drake London - USC
  • 2015 – OLB Vic Beasley – Clemson
  • 2007 – DE Jamaal Anderson – Arkansas
  • 2004 – CB DeAngelo Hall – Virginia Tech
  • 1992 – T Bob Whitfield – Stanford

Players Selected eighth overall since 2000

  • 2023 – RB Bijan Robinson - Falcons
  • 2022 – WR Drake London - Falcons
  • 2021 – CB Jaycee Horn – Panthers
  • 2020 – LB Isaiah Simmons – Cardinals
  • 2019 – TE T.J. Hockenson* – Lions
  • 2018 – LB Roquan Smith* – Bears
  • 2017 – RB Christian McCaffrey* – Panthers
  • 2016 – T Jack Conklin – Titans
  • 2015 – OLB Vic Beasley* – Falcons
  • 2014 – DB Justin Gilbert – Browns
  • 2013 – WR Tavon Austin – Rams
  • 2012 – QB Ryan Tannehill* – Dolphins
  • 2011 – QB Jake Locker – Titans
  • 2010 – LB Rolando McClain – Alabama
  • 2009 – T Eugene Monroe – Jaguars
  • 2008 – DE Derrick Harvey – Jaguars
  • 2007 – DE Jamaal Anderson - Falcons
  • 2006 - DB Donte Whitner* – Bills
  • 2005 – DB Antrel Rolle* – Cardinals
  • 2004 – DB DeAngelo Hall* – Falcons
  • 2003 – T Jordan Gross – Panthers
  • 2002 – DB Roy Williams* - Cowboys
  • 2001 – WR David Terrell - Bears
  • 2000 – WR Plaxico Burress – Steelers

*-Denotes Pro Bowl selection.

Pro Football Hall of Famers selected 8th overall in common draft era

  • 1993 – T Willie Roaf – Saints
  • 1982 – G Mike Munchak – Oakland
  • 1981 – DB Ronnie Lott – San Francisco
  • 1968 – RB Larry Csonka – Miami

Pre-common draft era highlights

  • 1962 – WR Lance Alworth – San Francisco
  • 1961 – TE Mike Ditka – Houston Oilers
  • 1957 – T Jim Parker – Baltimore Colts

Did you know...

Defensive backs and offensive linemen have been the Falcons most frequent targets in the first round. With 20 of its 59 total first rounders falling into one of those two position groups (10 each).

The last defensive back taken was A.J. Terrell in 2020, while Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary in 2019 marked the last time the team took an offensive lineman. After that comes wide receivers and running backs with seven selections each, linebackers (ILB/OLB) and defensive tackles (DT/NT) with six selections each. The Falcons have taken five quarterbacks and five defensive ends. And finally, two tight ends.


Options at No. 8

Trade up, trade down or stay and take your guy.

Those options are always hotly debated in the build up to the draft. Sitting at eight, much of that decision will be impacted by how things play out before the Falcons are on the clock, but general manager Terry Fontenot is never one to close a door.

With that in mind, let's break down the trades involving the eighth overall pick over the last 20-plus years.


The last time the eighth overall selection was traded was in 2016 as part of Philadelphia's trade to select Carson Wentz second overall. The Miami Dolphins originally sat at eight, trading the pick to Philadelphia. The Eagles then used the pick to move up to the second-overall selection in a swap with the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland then moved the pick to the Tennessee Titans, who would select offensive tackle Jack Conklin out of Michigan State with the eighth pick.

Trade Breakdown

Titans: OL Jack Conklin (2016, 8th overall), (2016, 176th overall)^

Browns: WR Corey Coleman (2016, 15th overall), OL Shon Coleman (2016, 76th overall), QB DeShone Kizer (2017, 52nd overall)

^ - Tennessee traded the 176th pick to Denver, who selected FB Andy Janovich

Cleveland's trade with Philadelphia for eight overall included the Eagles receiving the second-overall pick and a conditional fifth, while the Browns received Philadelphia's first-, third- and fourth-round selections in 2016 as well as a first-round pick in 2017 and a second-round pick in 2018.

Philadelphia originally received the eighth-overall pick in a trade with Miami, sending the 13th pick, CB Byron Maxwell and LB Kiko Alonso to the Dolphins in exchange for the eighth pick.


On draft night in 2014, the Browns traded the No. 4 pick to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for the No. 9 pick, and the Bills first- and fourth-round picks in 2015. The Bills used this selection to take Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins. Cleveland then moved up one spot from No. 9 to No. 8 in a trade with Minnesota to select cornerback Justin Gilbert.

Trade Breakdown

Browns: CB Justin Gilbert^ (2014, 8th overall)

Vikings: LB Anthony Barr (2014, 9th overall), OL David Yankey (2014, 145th overall)

^ - Cleveland traded No. 4 to Buffalo for No. 9 and the Bills first- and fourth-round picks in 2015.


In 2013, the St. Louis Rams moved up from No. 13 to No. 8 in a trade with Buffalo to select WR Tavon Austin out of West Virginia. As part of the trade, the Bills would select QB EJ Manuel with the No. 16 pick in 2013.

Trade Breakdown

Rams: WR Tavon Austin (2013, 8th overall)

Bills: QB EJ Manuel (2013, 16th overall), LB Kiko Alonso (2013, 46th overall), WR Marquise Goodwin (2013, 78th overall), TE Chris Gragg (2013, 222nd overall)


Jacksonville moved up from No. 26 to No. 8 overall in a move with Baltimore in 2008 to select DE Derrick Harvey out of Florida. The Ravens would use the picks they received in the trade with Jacksonville to move back up in the first round in a trade with Houston to select QB Joe Flacco with the 18th overall pick.

Trade Breakdown

Jaguars: DE Derrick Harvey (2008, 8th overall)

Ravens: QB Joe Flacco (2008, 16th overall)^, LB Tavares Gooden (2008, 71st overall), (2008, 89th overall), (2008, 125th overall)^^

^ - The Ravens traded Jacksonville's No. 26 pick, No. 89 pick, as well as their own sixth-round pick (No. 173 overall) to Houston in exchange for the No. 16 pick.

^^ - Baltimore traded Jacksonville's No. 125 pick to Oakland in exchange for CB Fabian Washington.


One of the four times Atlanta has made the eighth overall selection in the common draft era came via trade. The Falcons traded QB Matt Schaub and the 10th overall pick to the Houston Texans in exchange for the eighth pick, as well as Houston's second-round selections in both 2007 and 2008.

Trade Breakdown

Falcons: DE Jamaal Anderson (2007, 8th overall), OL Justin Blalock (2007, 39th overall), OL Sam Baker (2008, 21st overall).^

Texans: QB Matt Schaub, DL Amobi Okoye (2007, 10th overall)

^ - Atlanta traded Houston's second-round pick in 2008, along with its own second- and fourth-round picks to Washington in exchange for a first-, third- and fifth-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft. The Falcons would select OL Sam Baker out of USC with the 21st overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft giving them a left tackle to pair with newly minted franchise quarterback, Matt Ryan who was taken third overall.


Kansas City traded the eighth overall pick, a third-round pick (75th overall) and a 2003 sixth-round pick (186th overall) to Dallas in exchange for the sixth-overall pick in 2002. The Chiefs selected defensive tackle Ryan Sims out of North Carolina, while the Cowboys selected safety Roy Williams out of Oklahoma.

Trade Breakdown

Chiefs: DT Ryan Sims (2002, 6th overall)

Cowboys: S Roy Williams (2002, 8th overall), CB Derek Ross (2002, 75th overall), WR Zuriel Smith (2003, 186th overall)

Deep Drafts

There is always a great deal of buzz and excitement surrounding the first round of the NFL draft; however, each team's ability to find contributing players on Day 2 and 3 is an important factor in building the roster for the short-, mid-, and long-term future.

With that in mind, we'll look at where the Falcons are picking in the later rounds and some of the team's current Day 3 finds.

Round 2 | No. 43 overall

This year marks the third time the Falcons have picked at No. 43 overall and the first time since selecting defensive back James Britt out of LSU in 1983. The first time Atlanta picked at No. 43 was 1978 when the team took Minnesota linebacker Steve Stewart.

Notable 43rd picks: TE Kyle Rudolph (2011, Minnesota), RB Corey Dillon (1997, Cincinnati), HOF G Will Shields (1993, Kansas City), HOF T Dan Dierdorf (1983, St. Louis Cardinals), HOF QB Sonny Jurgensen (1957, Philadelphia)

Round 3 | No. 74 overall

Atlanta has used the 74th overall pick twice in club history, including taking former quarterback Desmond Ridder out of Cincinnati in 2022. Atlanta also selected Miami (Fla.) wide receiver Jammi German in 1998.

Notable 74th picks: DE Justin Tuck (2005, New York Giants), Steve Smith Sr. (2001, Panthers), HOF RB Curtis Martin (1995, New England), HOF TE Charlie Sanders (1968, Detroit), HOF DB Larry Wilson (1960, St. Louis Cardinals)

Round 3 | Pick 15 | No. 79 overall

Both times the Falcons have made pick No. 79, the team has targeted dynamic running backs, selecting Ring of Honor member William Andrews out of Auburn in 1979 and speedster Jerious Norwood from Mississippi State in 2006.

Notable 79th picks: TE Dan Campbell (1999, New York Giants), DL Lyle Alzado (1971, Denver)

Round 4 | No. 109 overall

Atlanta has picked at No. 109 four times, most recently selecting linebacker Stephen Nicholas out of South Florida in 2007. The Falcons picked Notre Dame guard John Scully in 1981, Kansas State tight end Henry Childs in 1974 and Michigan running back Billy Taylor in 1972.

Notable 109th picks: T David Bakhtiari (2013, Green Bay), G T.J. Lang (2009, Green Bay), WR Jason Avant (2006, Philadelphia), RB Marion Barber III (2005, Dallas), DE Jarrett Johnson (2003, Baltimore), T Jon Runyan (1996, Houston Oilers), HOF RB/WR Don Maynard (1957, New York Giants)

Round 5 | No. 143 overall

The Falcons have only made the 143rd pick once in team history, tabbing Kansas State running back Mack Herron in 1970.

Notable 143rd picks: RB Marlon Mack (2017, Indianapolis), CB Josh Norman (2012, Carolina), DB Orlando Scandrick (2008, Dallas), LB Scott Fujita (2002, Kansas City)

Round 6 | No. 187 overall

Atlanta's lone pick at No. 187 came in 2021, when the Falcons took Arizona State wide receiver Frank Darby.

Notable 187th pick: QB Matt Hasselbeck (1998, Green Bay)

Round 6 | No. 197 overall

The Falcons have selected a player at 197th overall once before in franchise history, taking defensive end Kevin Hudgens out of Idaho State in what was then the eighth round of the draft.

Notable 197th pick: QB Gus Frerotte (1994, Washington)

Falcons Finds

The Falcons have been successful in finding contributing players in the later rounds in recent drafts.

Over the last three years, Atlanta has selected 16 players in the third round or later and those players have averaged 22 games played over that span. From last year's class alone, Zach Harrison, Clark Phillips III and DeMarcco Hellams all played in at least 10 games, with Phillips and Hellams earning starting roles by the end of the season.

2022 fifth-round pick Tyler Allgeier finished fifth in AP Rookie of the Year voting after topping 1,000 yards and breaking William Andrews' franchise rookie rushing yardage record.

Undoubtedly, the club's best fifth-round pick of all time and one of its finest late-round picks remains Grady Jarrett.

Selected with the 137th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the Georgia native has started 120 career games and racked up 34 sacks despite being labeled as undersized coming out of Clemson. Jarrett is one of three players to be drafted in the fifth round or later to earn multiple Pro Bowl selections joining.


Falcons 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 of 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 were 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. The most recent addition to the Ring of Honor, Todd McClure, was picked by the Falcons in the seventh round of the 1999 NFL Draft out of Louisiana State University.

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

The Falcons have selected players from 193 schools, with LSU leading the way in terms of Falcons picks. Atlanta has selected 13 LSU Tigers since 1966.

The Falcons have selected 12 players from USC and Ohio State, including 2022's first-round selection in Drake London and 2023 third-round pick Zach Harrison.

Atlanta has selected 11 players from Georgia, Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Wisconsin. The Falcons have selected 10 players from Alabama, Florida and Stanford, and nine players each from Auburn and Colorado.

Excluding Favre, the Falcons have drafted 18 players have been named All-Pro, and 45 players have earned Pro Bowl honors – most recently guard Chris Lindstrom (2023 All-Pro and 2023 Pro Bowl).


The Draft starts in Mobile

The Senior Bowl has served as a key scouting tool for the Falcons under the guidance of Fontenot. In each of the three draft classes he has presided over, Atlanta has selected three or more players that made an appearance in Mobile, including Alabama safety DeMarcco Hellams, Syracuse guard Matthew Bergeron and South Carolina offensive lineman Jovaughn Gwyn in 2023.

Here's a list of the players the Falcons have drafted after first crossing paths with them at the Senior Bowl.

2023 Draft Class

DeMarcco Hellams, Matthew Bergeron, Jovaughn Gwyn,

2022 Draft Class

Desmond Ridder, Justin Shaffer, Troy Andersen, Arnold Ebiketie

2021 Draft Class

Frank Darby, TQ Graham, Ade Ogundeji, Darren Hall,



How many picks do the Falcons have this year?

Atlanta is scheduled to make eight picks, which includes each of their own selections in Rounds 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 as well as additional picks acquired via trade in the third and sixth rounds.

How do compensatory picks work?

The NFL uses a complex formula, awarding compensatory picks to "Clubs that lose to other Clubs a greater number of compensatory free agents than they sign or acquire from other Clubs."

How much time does each team have for each pick?

Each team has 10 minutes to make its pick in the first round on Thursday. The second and third rounds are on Friday; rounds 4-7 are on Saturday. Teams get seven minutes to make picks in the second round, five minutes for regular or compensatory picks in rounds 3-6 and four minutes in round 7.

If a team lets its time expire without making a choice, it can make a selection later — but it runs the risk of letting the next team on the clock take the player it was considering.

Where is it taking place?

The 89th annual NFL Draft will take place April 25-27 at Campus Martius Park in Detroit, Michigan.

How do rookie contracts work?

Every pick in the draft is awarded a four-year contract with a minimum and maximum he gets paid over the life of the deal and very few things can be negotiated. The maximum annual increase in salary in each of those first four years is 25 percent of the cap number in year one. That number is the sum of a prorated signing bonus, which varies, and the rookie minimum salary. All deals signed include a base salary and the remainder of the contract is done within those constraints. Teams have the option to pick up a fifth year on the rookie contracts of first-round picks but must do so before the fourth year of that deal officially begins. If that option is exercised, the fifth year is fully guaranteed. If a player is a top 10 pick, the fifth-year salary is the average of the 10 highest salaries for a player's position in the fourth year of his deal.

What is the highest the Falcons have picked in the NFL Draft?

Atlanta has made the first overall pick four times in club history, including selecting 'Mr. Falcon' linebacker Tommy Nobis first overall in 1966. Atlanta also picked quarterbacks Steve Bartkowski (1975) and Michael Vick (2001) with the top selection as well as linebacker Aundray Bruce (1988).

What is the latest the Falcons have picked in the NFL Draft?

In 1976 the Falcons selected Texas Tech defensive back Tony Green in the 17th round with the 468th overall pick. That year, the NFL draft consisted of 487 total selections – the most since the draft began in 1936.

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