By Eddie Neubert

Round 1, Pick 8- Michael Penix Jr, QB, Washington

Using an extremely high first round pick to take a quarterback after previously bringing in Kirk Cousins, the former quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings, came as a shocker to draft viewers everywhere. I initially was a little bit confused by this pick, but let’s think about the future for Atlanta: Kirk Cousins is 35-years old and signed a four year, $180 million contract with the Falcons, but the contract is constructed so that it is effectively a two year deal. With this in mind, Penix was a highly coveted QB in an extremely strong QB draft class, alongside the likes of Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels and Drake Maye. Penix was outstanding in college, becoming the first player since Patrick Mahomes to throw for over 4,500 yards in 2 straight seasons. The Falcons likely brought him in so that he is given the opportunity to develop under what could be a Top 10 QB in Kirk Cousins, similar to the situation we saw with Jordan Love and Aaron Rodgers. Colin Cowherd said it best, is having the best QB in their division and best backup in the NFL really a catastrophe? Obviously the pick does have its threats, one being his ability to stay healthy, as he sustained two torn ACLs at his time in Indiana. Another huge issue with Penix is the fact that Atlanta have put themselves into a position where, it appeared, they want to win the NFC south here and now, and Dallas Turner, the defensive end out of Alabama, was on the board. He was passed on, and just fell into the hands of the Minnesota Vikings at the 17th pick. The Falcons did grab a defensive edge in round 3, but Dallas Turner was the first overall ranked edge in this draft class. Only the future will tell if this draft selection pans out for Atlanta.

Grade: C+

Round 2, Pick 35- Ruke Orhorhoro, DL, Clemson

Atlanta initially had the No. 43 pick, but gave up that pick and their 79th to receive pick No. 35 and No. 186 from the Arizona Cardinals. Not the worst trade if used correctly, but this selection comes as a bit of a head scratcher. He is an extremely powerful interior lineman who adds talent to the trenches, with 22 tackles, five sacks and a pass breakup in the 12 games he started last year at Clemson. However, he was projected to go in the third round in most mock drafts. The Falcons GM, Terry Fontenot, must have suspected that these predictions were wrong and decided to make a move to ensure that did not happen. I expect him to be an integral player by 2025, and the trade-up leads me to believe that the Falcons front office does as well.

Grade: B-

Round 3, Pick 74- Bralen Trice, Edge, Washington

The Falcons finally get the heavily sought after edge rusher in Bralen Trice. Trice was solid in his past two years at Washington, as the defensive captain with 16 sacks who also finished as the No. 1 player in FBS in pressures in 2022 and 2023. Trice is a strong pick for Atlanta, the people wanted an edge rusher and they got one, it just might be two rounds later than expected.

Grade: B+

Round 4, Pick 109- Brandon Dorlus, DL, Oregon

Very high value pick from the Falcons further bolstering their defensive line on top of the selection of Orhorhoro. Many projections had him being drafted much higher than this, he attained 46 QB pressures, ranking third among draft-eligible defensive tackles. He is an explosive athlete who will join the “new era” of the Atlanta defensive tackles, whilst being alongside the veterans of Grady Jarrett and David Onyemata.

Grade: A

Round 5, Pick 143: JD Bertrand, LB, Notre Dame

Bertrand is a competitive linebacker in coverage and as a pass rusher, he attained 7.5 tackles for loss, 5 pass breakups and a forced fumble in 2023 at Notre Dame. According to some draft class evaluators, his decision-making skills are what set him apart on the field, and this is further supported by his allowance of zero touchdowns in coverage in the past two seasons. Plus, this is a hometown snag, as Bertrand was raised just outside of Atlanta in Alpharetta, Georgia.

Grade: B+

Round 6, Pick 186: Jase McClellan, RB, Alabama

The second of the two draft picks received from the Arizona Cardinals was used to grab a reliable running back in Jase McCellan. His offensive ceiling is limited in his first year as he will likely have to sit behind Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier. He only fumbled one time in his career at Alabama, making him a “tough” and “gritty” running back, according to former Alabama head coach Nick Saban.

Grade: C+

Round 6, Pick 187: Casey Washington, WR, Illinois

A reliable blocker who still secured 13 catches in contested coverage in his 11 games started in 2023 at Illinois. As a 200+ pound WR, he was also able to showcase his speed running a 4.46 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. This addition further bolsters the Falcons WR room as Washington will play alongside Drake London and the newly-acquired Darnell Mooney and Rondale Moore.

Grade: B-

Round 6, Pick 197: Zion Logue, DL, Georgia

Georgia boy stays in the peach state, as the Falcons draft yet another interior lineman to further strengthen their defensive tackle draft class. Logue earned career highs in both overall grade and run-defense grade in 2023. While he only slashed half a sack in 2023, he stood out as a run defender in his final two years in Athens. Because he is the third of the interior lineman drafted by Atlanta, he will likely find some difficulty receiving snaps as a rookie.

Grade: B-