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NBC Sports Edge ranks Falcons UDFA class as #1 in the league

Atlanta badly needs an infusion of young talent, and hopefully this undrafted free agent class will provide it.

By Dave Choate  May 12, 2021, 10:00am EDT  
 

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 26 Louisville at PittPhoto by Mark Alberti/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

 

Atlanta will be bringing 20 undrafted free agents to camp this year, and given that much of the roster is in flux and the Falcons couldn’t rub two nickels together and start a fire in a kiln, they’ll likely end up with several of those players making the roster and practice squad. The good news for Atlanta is that they also seem to have chosen their talent wisely.

That’s at least the good word from Thor Nystrom, a college football and NFL Draft analyst with SportsEdge, which you may known better as the former RotoWorld. Nystrom actually ranks Atlanta’s UDFA haul as the best in the entire NFL for 2021,

I’m going to keep my overall UDFA rankings a secret until Wednesday, with one exception: The Falcons had the NFL’s No. 1 UDFA class this year. The only team that was even remotely close is listed below (okay, two exceptions). Atlanta not only finished No. 1 in my metrics for most overall UDFA talent acquired, but the Falcons’ haul boasted unmatched quality at the top*. The fact that Atlanta directly addressed post-draft positional needs with draftable-grade UDFAs who can make the 2021 roster makes this crop all the more alluring.

The biggest names in this haul were Javian Hawkins (a 5th rounder per Nystrom’s rankings), as well as Erroll Thompson and Feleipe Franks (7th rounders), though he had 13 ranked prospects out of the list of 20. But it’s the fact that this is a class filled with interesting talent, as Nystrom says, that makes it intriguing.

It’s worth remembering for Hawkins in particular that teams have been finding plenty of success recently with undrafted backs, with James Robinson, Phillip Lindsay, and Austin Ekeler meriting mention from Nystrom over the past few years. This team has generally found a spot on the roster for at least 1-2 undrafted players, with former UDFAs like Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, Matt Gono and Olamide Zaccheaus potentially set for real roles 2021. Players like Thompson, Franks (especially Franks), intriguing guard Bryce Hargrove safety Marcus Murphy likely won’t be impact players right away, but they’re landing with a team that has immediate depth concerns almost everywhere and a long-term need for talent they can develop. It would not be at all surprising if this group wound up yielding 3-5 legitimate contributors, with Hawkins seemingly having the best chance to get something approaching starter’s snaps in the near future if he can live up to his potential.

Nystrom will be joining Falcoholic Live tonight to talk about the Falcons draft haul and his undrafted free agent rankings, so tune in for that if you’re interested in learning more or have questions about his rankings.

https://www.thefalcoholic.com/2021/5/12/22430328/nbc-sports-edge-ranks-falcons-udfa-class-as-1-in-the-league 

 

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5 minutes ago, Herr Doktor said:

Assessing talent and understanding their skills in relation to their value.  Well done Falcons.

and two potential RBs that could contribute - just another reason not to draft a RB in the first two rounds.    Whether specifically Hawkins and Huntley make it or not - there will be UDFAs and late round RBs every year coming out of college that will contribute significantly to NFL teams.

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6 minutes ago, FalconBlood said:

Now to see if our coaches can develop talent.

Media rankings mean nothing to me now lol I’m happy FO got some players they believe in. Validate that believe by getting them ready to perform and make plays.

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1 hour ago, g-dawg said:

and two potential RBs that could contribute - just another reason not to draft a RB in the first two rounds.    Whether specifically Hawkins and Huntley make it or not - there will be UDFAs and late round RBs every year coming out of college that will contribute significantly to NFL teams.

Certainly they're are contributors and decent backs that go late/undrafted but the best RBs now a days are mostly all 2nd rounders except for a few that were 1st rounders. Just depends on the scheme really. If we want to go RB by committee and are okay with 3-4 guys where none of them are stars but will combine for 1500+ and 15+ TDs then cool. Others prefer the high end talent that can give you 1500/15 by himself but will cost your team more capital in terms of a higher draft pick and in paying him and eating more cap.

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1 hour ago, g-dawg said:

and two potential RBs that could contribute - just another reason not to draft a RB in the first two rounds.    Whether specifically Hawkins and Huntley make it or not - there will be UDFAs and late round RBs every year coming out of college that will contribute significantly to NFL teams.

It's starting to be that way for WRs, too.  This is truly a Golden Age for WRs.

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I get the impression that the new staff is going to treat training camp as an open competition for every position other than QB. The braintrust did well to get a playmaker on the edge and fortify the OL. Hopefully, we can keep Julio. If Coach can scheme up the line and talent, teams would be stupid to put a safety in the box. If everything works out, who's to say we don't have a UDFA hungry enough to be the next Arian Foster?

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Just now, Atl Falcon said:

I think QBs are on the way with kids slinging it in Rec League and middle school now days. No doubt WRs and RBs are the strength of most drafts. 

Definitely.  My son's league throw first run second.  A few years ago, the QB was the fastest kid on the team, he took the hike and just freebooted as far as he could.  No plays, just bedlam.  Now, the kid who can throw starts.

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35 minutes ago, Herr Doktor said:

The college game is churning them out.  Kids are running pro style sets starting in high school in some places.  

And as teams throw more, more QBs will develop.   There have already been some very good young QBs enter the NFL lately.   As more QBs come out, they will go later in the first round.

Which works for us.

 

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40 minutes ago, Atl Falcon said:

I think QBs are on the way with kids slinging it in Rec League and middle school now days. No doubt WRs and RBs are the strength of most drafts. 

The biggest differences these days, are like you said.... more QBs are coming out, but the biggest change is how soon these young QBs take the field as starters.    Ryan used to be considered exceptional because he started right away and helped his team win games.... very unusual for a rookie QB.

Now, young QBs are taking the field as rookies all the time.   Admittedly, with mixed results....  but its a trend that is going to be more common, I think.

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1 hour ago, egoprime II said:

It's starting to be that way for WRs, too.  This is truly a Golden Age for WRs.

 

1 hour ago, Herr Doktor said:

The college game is churning them out.  Kids are running pro style sets starting in high school in some places.  

 

1 hour ago, Atl Falcon said:

I think QBs are on the way with kids slinging it in Rec League and middle school now days. No doubt WRs and RBs are the strength of most drafts. 

 

 

The rule changes have also helped out WRs quite a bit.

 

Gone are the days a reciever feared to get punished from going across the field or catching in an area of a defender who is known to knock you out.

 

The Ronnie Lott's, Jack Tatum's, and Steve Atwater's of the world would not be as dominant in today's NFL. Won't say they wouldn't survive, but definitely wouldn't be what they were known for back in the day.

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3 hours ago, Herr Doktor said:

Assessing talent and understanding their skills in relation to their value.  Well done Falcons.

Blown away by the quality of the players AS and TF have brought in so far, from the FA's, to the #4 pick, to the rest of the draft, and including the impressive haul of UDFA's they found.

it's starting to look like this mini-rebuild could become a major transformation in terms of roster talent, depth and toughness ~ thanks to the colossal upgrades made at GM and HC. Well Done Arthur Blank and Rich McKay.

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56 minutes ago, egoprime II said:

The biggest differences these days, are like you said.... more QBs are coming out, but the biggest change is how soon these young QBs take the field as starters.    Ryan used to be considered exceptional because he started right away and helped his team win games.... very unusual for a rookie QB.

Now, young QBs are taking the field as rookies all the time.   Admittedly, with mixed results....  but its a trend that is going to be more common, I think.

Coaches are much better at building offenses around these rookie QB's and playing to their strengths. When Ryan came out the narrative was all about pro style offense and can they play from under center. Today that doesn't matter. In fact teams are now looking for guys who can make plays outside or when the pocket breaks down. Playbooks are simpler, they get the ball out the QB's hand quicker. Basically everything is geared to making it easier for these guys to just go out and play.

 

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1 hour ago, PokerSteve said:

Blown away by the quality of the players AS and TF have brought in so far, from the FA's, to the #4 pick, to the rest of the draft, and including the impressive haul of UDFA's they found.

it's starting to look like this mini-rebuild could become a major transformation in terms of roster talent, depth and toughness ~ thanks to the colossal upgrades made at GM and HC. Well Done Arthur Blank and Rich McKay.

"mini-rebuild" is a great way to put it. some of the faces will be familiar, but this should look like an entirely different team on the field.

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1 minute ago, JohnnyFranchise said:

"mini-rebuild" is a great way to put it. some of the faces will be familiar, but this should look like an entirely different team on the field.

And that new team is going to be so much more enjoyable to watch. Game-time gonna be fun-time instead of three agonizing hours of watching us figure out how to self-destruct.

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