The 2023 NFL Draft is in the books, and the Atlanta Falcons finished with six picks this year. Arthur Smith and Terry Fontenot began the 2023 NFL Draft with a plethora of decisions with the eighth and subsequent picks. Were they able to make the most of their possibilities in retrospect? Here we'll look at the grades for every single pick that the Falcons made at the 2023 NFL Draft.
Keep in mind that this year was challenging for teams in need of wide receivers. Atlanta was one of those teams. The top dog for the Falcons right now is Drake London, accompanied by Kyle Pitts at tight end. Still, the Falcons require more than just that. Mack Hollins is a decent player, but he is better suited as a No. 3 option. That is technically what he will be for Atlanta if Arthur Smith decides to utilize Pitts more. Take note also that the Falcons have made several additions to their edge group. These include Arnold Ebiketie, who may have been underwhelming as a rookie but has potential for growth. The team has also added Bud Dupree as a run defender, and Lorenzo Carter, Adetokunbo Ogundeji, and DeAngelo Malone. All of them could have contributing roles. Despite these additions, adding a high-end defensive talent through the NFL Draft could elevate Ryan Nielsen's defense to the next level.
Let's look at the 2023 NFL Draft grades for the Falcons.
Atlanta Falcons 2023 NFL Draft Grades
Round 1, Pick 8- RB Bijan Robinson (Texas)
The selection of Bijan Robinson by the Falcons has put running backs back in the top 10. This surely contradicted the argument that the position is undervalued. Although the team still has needs in other positions such as offensive line, cornerback, and edge rusher, Robinson's exceptional skills make a case for his positional value. He is an exceptional RB prospect with his 5'11 and 215-pound build. This allows him to be a workhorse in the NFL. His short-area athleticism, flexibility, processing ability, and creative instincts also give him remarkable control in tight spaces. He can maneuver past defenders before driving through tackles and is also an outstanding receiving threat. Yes, the Falcons had a 1,000-yard season from Day 3 rookie Tyler Allgeier last year. Still, Robinson's talent is exceptional. His selection takes the pressure off Desmond Ridder. With a better-looking roster after free agency, Robinson is a top-flight NFL runner, making the Falcons' pick justified.
Bijan Robinson has reportedly spent the past several days training with Ja’Marr Chase.
Robinson and Chase have spent time refining routes and improving footwork.
These training sessions are led by “goldfeet” who has also worked with the likes of Odell Beckham, Jaylen Waddle,… pic.twitter.com/VL9GWAZJzL
— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) May 4, 2023
Round 1, Pick 38- OL Matthew Bergeron (Syracuse)
Remember that the Falcons have a clear objective to strengthen their offensive attack for the benefit of QB Desmond Ridder. To achieve this, they drafted Robinson as the eighth overall pick and then traded up to acquire offensive lineman Matthew Bergeron at 38th overall. Bergeron, a Quebec native, is one of the most promising blockers in the 2023 NFL Draft. He is likely to play as a left guard for the Falcons. Here, he can use his explosive athleticism, range, power, and physicality at 6'5 and 321 pounds to create gaps and lead runners up the field. Despite occasional control issues with his technique, Bergeron's corrective twitch for his size is a notable trait. This makes him a potential asset for Arthur Smith's team.
Round 3, Pick 75- EDGE Zach Harrison (Ohio State)
Atlanta has shifted its focus to the defensive side of the ball after using its first two picks to address the offense. They picked Ohio State's Zach Harrison, who is a raw talent but has enormous potential. The Falcons needed to improve their EDGE rotation. Harrison's size of 6'5 and 272 pounds, with long arms over 36 inches, provides versatility. Although Harrison's productivity did not match his promise in college, his skill set is unmatched. He possesses elite explosiveness, length, and power capacity. He can also bend around the edge and use swipes and chops to combat extensions while building off power rushes. The concern with him is his inconsistent production.
Round 4, Pick 113- CB Clark Phillips III (Utah)
The Falcons picked up Clark Phillips III, a likely starting slot cornerback in the fourth round. Despite being undersized, Phillips is an instinctive and competitive player with exceptional ball skills and athleticism.
Round 7, Pick 224- S DeMarco Hellams (Alabama)
In the seventh round, the Falcons selected DeMarco Hellams. He is a safety with starting experience in Alabama. His primary function would likely be on special teams due to his tackling ability rather than his coverage skills. His physicality could translate well into the NFL, too.
Round 7, Pick 225- OL Jovaughn Gwyn (South Carolina)
The Falcons also drafted Jovaughn Gwyn from South Carolina in the seventh round. He has impressive range as a pulling blocker and is known for being one of the strongest players on the team. With his size and experience at guard, he could be a depth piece with center-guard versatility. Strengthening the offensive line depth never hurts at this stage.
Atlanta added some intriguing prospects in the draft. That said, they failed to fully address their pass-catching needs. Bijan Robinson, their eighth overall pick, is a talented running back who can make an immediate impact. Still, maybe the Falcons should have prioritized their pass rush more instead. Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter was available at No. 8, but they went for the luxury pick in Robinson. They waited until the third round to address their defensive line with Harrison, who showed potential but was inconsistent in college. The team still has question marks on the defensive front heading into the 2023 season.
Despite the missed opportunities, Robinson is the standout pick and has the potential to be a franchise cornerstone. Another player to watch is fourth-round cornerback Phillips II, who could excel alongside AJ Terrell in the Falcons secondary.