The Atlanta Falcons took little time to surprise in the NFL Draft, taking star Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley with the 26th pick. Having a roster as talented as Atlanta’s allowed them the luxury to make picks based on talent rather than need. Entering the draft it was clear the Falcons needed some defensive tackle help so the selection of one was little surprise. However, waiting until the third round and the player they selected were both surprises.
Here is a recap of all of the Falcons 2018 draft picks.
Round 1 (26): Calvin Ridley WR Alabama
The Ridley selection definitely set this year’s draft off with excitement. Although not all fans were thrilled they selected the top wide receiver in the draft, it makes a lot of sense. Julio Jones, who is approaching the wrong side of 30, could be a beneficiary of the Ridley signing. Ridley has the upside to create space on his own which should prevent teams rolling coverage schemes completely over Jones. Ridley’s talent can also make him a threat even with Jones resting for a few extra plays each game. The loss of Taylor Gabriel doesn’t look to be as big of a concern as it did pre-draft.
You can find a more detailed breakdown of the Ridley pick here.
Round 2 (58): Isaiah Oliver CB Colorado
The selection of Colorado corner back Isaiah Oliver in round two may have been the steal of the draft. The Atlanta secondary is already very young and talented but it got even better with the Oliver pick. Oliver, who has drawn comparisons to shutdown corner, Nnamdi Asomugha, could make an immediate impact. Dan Quinn loves rangy playmakers on defense and Oliver adds extra length that could be a problem for opposing offenses.
Round 3 (90): Deadrin Senat DT South Florida
It took until the Falcons second pick on day two to finally address their need at defensive tackle. Senat, who is expected play nose tackle, could see significant playing time in rotation with Jack Crawford. At six feet, 315 pounds, Deadrin is a powerful interior defensive lineman even if he does lack height. The Falcons got their run stopper who can play the 1-technique and use his strength to get after the quarterback. There is big upside with Senat, even if the pick seemed a little bit of a reach.
You can listen to Quinn and Dimitroff discuss the reasons behind the pick in the video below.
You can read more on our thoughts about Oliver and Senat here.
Round 4 (126): Ito Smith RB Southern Miss
Round four was the beginning of the Falcons search for players who could make an impact on special teams. Ito Smith, viewed by some as a steal, is a shifty one-cut back who can make people miss. Smith, who could potentially replace Tevin Coleman, will be a key player on the special teams unit this season. He could even be the return man on kick-offs this year or at least share duty with Justin Hardy.
Round 6 (194): Russell Gage WR LSU
The Falcons had enough interest in wide receiver Russell Gage to trade two seventh round picks for him. He will come in and compete with Marvin Hall for the fifth wide receiver spot, but we can definitely expect to see him have a role on special teams. One of the weaknesses of the Falcons 2017 team was the lack of consistency from their gunner on special teams. Gage has the experience and the makeup to be an immediate contributor on special teams.
Round 6 (200): Foyesade Oluokun LB Yale
The Falcons have listed Foyesade Oluokun as a linebacker on their draft day list, but he played a majority of his snaps at safety for Yale. After an impressive Pro Day, Oluokun saw his draft stock increase and he appears to have caught the Falcons eye. After losing 2017 undrafted free agent Jermaine Grace to the Indianapolis Colts, it was important that the Falcons find themselves a linebacker who can be molded into a special player.