If they want, they can start an entire offense of first-round picks this season with 11 being on the offensive side of the ball and seven on the other.
Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said going after a bunch of former first-rounders wasn’t necessarily in the plans.
“There was no golden plan to have as many firsts as we could,” Dimitroff said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “The reality is that we have some very talented football players on this football team. . . .
“I continue to see this group as I’m interacting with them and watching them in walk-throughs and such, I realize that there is this sort of evolving maturity and consistency about this team that we’ve been driving for that I feel like is starting to come into place”
New First Rounders In Atlanta
In addition to first-round pick cornerback A.J. Terrell (16th overall) in this year’s NFL draft, the Falcons also added Dennard (24st overall, 2014), linebacker Deone Bucannon (27th, 2014), defensive end Dante Fowler (3rd, 2015), running back Todd Gurley (10th, 2015) wide receiver Laquon Treadwell (23rd, 2016), defensive end Charles Harris (22nd, 2017) and tight end Hayden Hurst (25th, 2018) in free agency.
While there was no master plan on them being first draft picks, Dimitroff did have a plan on going after veterans. Positive COVID tests could affect the roster greatly so he wants to make sure he has players who are experienced.
“I know that it’s really important for us in general, but even more so important in a pandemic year like we are dealing with,” Dimitroff said. “You can have all of the talent in the world, but if you’re not consistent and mature and accountable and focused, I don’t think a team would have a chance during (this) time.”
First Rounders Already on the Roster Prior to New Additions
Before taking on some new additions, the Falcons already had a pool of first-rounders:
-Quarterback Matt Ryan (No. 3 overall, 2008)
-Center Alex Mack (21, 2009)
-Wide receiver Julio Jones (6, 2011)
-Guard James Carpenter (25th, 2011)
-Left tackle Jake Matthews (6, 2014)
-Safety Keanu Neal (17, 2016)
-Defensive end Takk McKinley (26, 2017)
-Wide receiver Calvin Ridley (26, 2018)
-Right guard Chris Lindstrom (14, 2019)
-Right tackle Kaleb McGary (31, 2019)
Say Hello to A Major Upgrade
The Falcons starting 11 former first-rounders is just a projection and who knows what gameday will bring, especially with a weird offseason. But you can’t argue that the Falcons have a lot of talent to work with right in the palm of their hands.
What’s most exciting on offense is that Hurst and Treadwell will get a chance to showcase their true talent. Atlanta will really work on them to bring their best side out since they didn’t get that kind of attention on from their previous teams.
Gurley is coming in hot with 7,494 yards from scrimmage (5,404 rushing, 2,090 receiving) and 70 touchdowns in five seasons. And so what if he didn’t have the greatest season in 2019? He still has some juice and he’s beyond ecstatic to be coming back home to play in front of his Georgia fans.
Ridley is expected to have a breakout season and Julio Jones needs no introduction. The Falcons have Matty Ice who is Atlanta’s rock and the most consistent QB in the NFL.
Then you look over at the defense and you have guys that are huge like Fowler, yet still explosive. Also, hybrid guys like Bucannon can fill multiple holes.
Most importantly, these guys are hungry and ready to eat especially after being cooped up in quarantine. There’s no doubt that this team is going to be a big upgrade from 2019.