Atlanta Falcons NFL Draft Grades 2023: Falcons Take Bijan Robinson in Top 10

    What are the Atlanta Falcons' grades for their selections in the 2023 NFL Draft as they look to address their main needs this offseason?

    How’d the Atlanta Falcons’ 2023 NFL Draft grades shape up? Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot entered the 2023 NFL Draft with countless options at the eighth overall pick and beyond. Looking back, were they able to make the most of those options?

    Atlanta Falcons NFL Draft Grades

    Round 1, Pick 8: Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

    Who says running backs don’t matter? The position makes a stylish return back to the top 10, with the Atlanta Falcons’ selection of Bijan Robinson. For a team that still has needs remaining at positions like offensive line, cornerback, and edge rusher, there is a positional value counter-argument to make here. But Robinson is a truly uncommon RB prospect.

    At 5’11”, 215 pounds, Robinson has the size, physicality, and contact balance to be a workhorse at the NFL level. But he also has hyper-elite control in tight spaces, with his combined short-area athleticism, flexibility, processing ability, and creative instincts. He can put defenders on a string before driving through tackles, and he’s also a high-level receiving threat.

    As good as Robinson is, it’s fair to wonder if the Falcons needed to pick an RB this high after getting a 1,000-yard season out of a Day 3 rookie last year in Tyler Allgeier. But the roster is looking better after free agency, and Robinson is a truly elite RB — a top-flight NFL runner out of the gate, and he takes a lot of pressure off Desmond Ridder.

    Grade: B+

    Round 1, Pick 38: Matthew Bergeron, OL, Syracuse

    The Falcons have made it clear that they’re aiming to complete their offensive attack in 2023 to properly support Desmond Ridder moving forward. They drafted Bijan Robinson at eighth overall, and they now add offensive lineman Matthew Bergeron after trading up to 38.

    Bergeron, who hails from Quebec, profiles as one of the highest-upside blockers in the entire 2023 NFL Draft. He likely projects inside to left guard with the Falcons, and on the interior, he has the explosive athleticism, range as a blocker, power, and physicality at 6’5”, 321 pounds to plow open lanes and lead runners upfield.

    Bergeron’s corrective twitch for his size, in particular, is an eye-catching trait. He can still be more controlled with his technique at times, but he’s a road-grader who projects extremely well inside, and he’ll be an asset for Arthur Smith early on.

    Grade: B+

    Round 3, Pick 75: Zach Harrison, EDGE, Ohio State

    After addressing the offense with their first two picks, Atlanta has now pivoted to the defensive side of the ball, taking Ohio State edge rusher Zach Harrison. Harrison is more upside than established utility right now, but his tantalizing ceiling makes him worth the investment.

    The Falcons needed to strengthen their EDGE rotation. Harrison not only does that but also provides projected alignment versatility and untapped potential as a player. At 6’5 ½” and 272 pounds, with arms over 36” long, Harrison’s power profile is near 1-of-1, and he’s also an elite athlete who was rumored to run in the 4.4 range coming out of high school.

    Harrison’s promise never amounted to elite production, and that’s the concern with him. It never clicked on a down-to-down basis, but Harrison has every tool in his arsenal: Elite explosiveness, elite length, elite power capacity. On top of that, he has shown he can bend around the apex and combat extensions with swipes and chops, as well as build off power rushes.

    Grade: A-

    Round 4, Pick 113: Clark Phillips III, CB, Utah

    The Falcons got their likely starting slot cornerback in Round 4 of the 2023 NFL Draft. Clark Phillips III may be undersized, but he’s an instinctive, chippy competitor with free-flowing athleticism and exceptional ball skills.

    Grade: A+

    Round 7, Pick 224: DeMarcco Hellams, S, Alabama

    DeMarcco Hellams has starting experience and comes from a prestigious program, but the primary function of this pick is likely special teams. Hellams stands at 6’1”, 203 pounds, and his strongest trait at Alabama was always his tackling ability.

    He doesn’t have elite burst, agility, or corrective athleticism in coverage, but his willingness to dish out physicality and attack as a tackler could translate well in a gunner role.

    Grade: C+

    Round 7, Pick 225: Jovaughn Gwyn, OL, South Carolina

    It never hurts to strengthen the depth of the offensive line at this point, and Jovaughn Gwyn could be a sleeper, to boot. At South Carolina, he showed off impressive range as a pulling blocker, and he carried a reputation as one of the strongest players on the team.

    He has a trove of experience at guard, but with his hyper-dense 6’2”, 297-pound frame, he could be a depth piece with center-guard versatility.

    Grade: B+

    What Were the Falcons’ Biggest Needs Entering the Draft?

    • WR, EDGE, IDL, CB

    It’s a bad year for teams to need wide receivers, yet it appears these teams all need them. Drake London is the team’s top dog, along with Kyle Pitts at tight end, but the Falcons need more than that. Mack Hollins is a fine player, but he’s more of a No. 3 option, which he’ll technically be for Atlanta if Arthur Smith decides that Pitts exists again, but I digress.

    The Falcons have added name upon name to their edge group. Arnold Ebiketie was underwhelming as a rookie but has upside. Bud Dupree fits a need as a run defender, and Lorenzo Carter, Adetokunbo Ogundeji, and DeAngelo Malone could all find contributing roles. But adding a high-end talent with the eighth pick in the NFL Draft could take Ryan Nielsen’s defense to the next level.

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