The grades are in.
With coach Arthur Smith and general manager Terry Fontenot in their first offseason with the Falcons, the roster evaluation they must do heading into free agency and the NFL Draft is imperative for many reasons. In order to make decisions regarding players they want to acquire, they have to know what they have at every position first.
While Smith and Fontenot will complete a thorough evaluation with their respective staffs on every player on the roster, NFL.com writer Nick Shook completed a similar evaluation of his own. Shook ranked each rookie class in the NFC South division and when it came to the Falcons' six draft picks, it was no surprise he started with cornerback A.J. Terrell.
Here's Shook's grade for the Falcons' rookie draft class and his analysis:
Analysis: "Terrell's stat line -- 74 tackles, seven passes defensed, three forced fumbles, one interception (and nearly two) -- is promising," Shook said. "The upside with Terrell is visible; he just needs more time to hone his craft and become an effective professional corner. Davidson didn't quite play enough to give us a true sample size for a complete evaluation, appearing in just eight games and playing 132 total defensive snaps. While spending most of his time at center, Hennessy also played a third of his snaps at guard and wasn't up to par as a rookie (especially in pass blocking), but that's not all that uncommon for a mid-round interior lineman. Walker carries this class, earning an overall grade of 74 from PFF and an elite coverage grade of 90.7 as a rookie, giving the Falcons solid value from a fourth-round pick. He didn't play anywhere near a full season's worth of defensive snaps in 2020, but that's bound to change in 2021. Hawkins ended up spending most of his time on special teams, though he did register a half-sack in Atlanta's blowout win over Las Vegas. Hofrichter appeared in all 16 games and dropped 17 punts inside the opposing 20, but landed near the bottom of the league in average yards per punt."
Terrell started 14 games for Atlanta and appears to be the shutdown cornerback the Falcons have needed for some time now. Walker was also a key addition on defense seeing action in all 16 games with six starts. The fourth-round draft pick out of Fresno State gives the Falcons a talented trio at linebacker with Deion Jones and Foye Oluokun.
Although Hawkins didn't see much time at safety in his first season, he very well could play a bigger role in the upcoming season. Both Damontae Kazee and Keanu Neal are scheduled to become free agents when the new league year begins on March 17. The same goes for Hennessy who gave Atlanta's front office a glimpse of what the offensive line could look like with him as the anchor in the final two games of the 2020 season. Veteran center Alex Mack is also set to become a free agent.
Davidson's first season in the NFL was plagued by injuries and the expectation he'd be Pro Bowl defensive tackle Grady Jarrett's running mate didn't quite come to fruition. The Falcons will be counting on their second-round pick to have a strong offseason and return healthy for his second season.
Hofrichter played in all 16 games and he, kicker Younghoe Koo and long snapper Josh Harris now have a year's worth of chemistry together to build on.