2024 NFL Draft review: Atlanta Falcons

Review of all 32 teams draft, with grades and UDFA signings. This time it’s the Atlanta Falcons
Apr 26, 2024; Flowery Branch, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons first round draft pick quarterback Michael
Apr 26, 2024; Flowery Branch, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons first round draft pick quarterback Michael / Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Previously we reviewed the Arizona Cardinals draft selections, now it’s time to take a look at how the Atlanta Falcons drafted and grade the picks. Which player was the best value and earn the team choice award, and who did the team sign during the undrafted free-agent period? Let’s break it all down.

1 (8): QB Michael Penix Jr., Washington

We start off with a shock pick that made headlines the moment it was made. Kirk Cousins signed with the Falcons to a four-year deal worth $180 million during the offseason. Cousins had his choice of quarterback-hungry teams but ultimately chose the Falcons. Now he walks into his first training camp in Atlanta with Penix breathing down his neck wanting to take the starting position. This has all the same hallmarks as Cousin’s time in Washington with RG3. 

Penix Jr. is top tier quarterback in this year’s draft, but going to a team that was set at quarterback? It makes grading this pick more difficult.

Grade: C+

Michael Penix Jr.
2024 CFP National Championship - Michigan v Washington / Jamie Schwaberow/GettyImages

2 (35): DL Ruke Orhorhoro, Clemson

The first pick really did affect the second and this is a great lesson in draft sequencing. The premium pass rushers had come off the board earlier and Atlanta decided to trade up, but for a pass rusher, they could have probably got if they stuck around. What makes this pick just as confusing as the first is the fact this isn’t a huge weakness for the team and Jonny Newton was still on the board which would have helped on the interior as a better fit. Ruke is a talent but he’s raw as sushi, a testament to starting football late in high school. Look for Ruke to play a rotational role.

Grade: C

Ruke Orhorhoro
Clemson v South Carolina / Jacob Kupferman/GettyImages

3 (74): EDGE Bralen Trice, Washington

Trice is a fantastic edge defender who has registered 150 pressures, 17 sacks, and 14 tackles for loss in the last two seasons. He fits everything the Falcons look for in a pass rusher and the team really needs more pressures and sacks that have seldom been able to do so the past couple of seasons. This was a slam dunk pick and easily the highlight of their draft haul.  

Grade: A+

(Team Choice Award)

Bralen Trice
2023 Pac-12 Championship - Oregon v Washington / Ric Tapia/GettyImages

4 (109): DL Brandon Dorlus, Oregon

Now the Falcons got rolling and found another gem in the fourth round. Some Falcons fans may have overlooked this pick as he’s a sneaky good player and the level of versatility he plays with is undeniable last year he played at a high level for the Ducks at every tackle spot. No defensive tackle in the last three years has more pressures than Dorlus and he helps the Falcons in more ways than just pressures. 

Grade: A-

Brandon Dorlus
2023 Pac-12 Championship - Oregon v Washington / Ric Tapia/GettyImages

5 (143): LB JD Bertrand, Notre Dame

As with most players who hail from Notre Dame, Bertrand is a smart and intelligent linebacker. He’s great at reading the offense and where to shoot gaps to generate pressure in the opposition's backfield and he shows good instincts for the position to get to the ball carrier. This isn’t a huge win with this pick but still very good. 

Grade: B

JD Bertrand
University of Pittsburgh v University of Notre Dame / Michael Miller/ISI Photos/GettyImages

6 (186): RB Jase McClellan, Alabama

The team has a great tandem in Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier, but adding strength-on strength isn’t a bad strategy. This year's running back draft class was subpar but waiting this far to pick up a back isn’t a bad strategy. McClellan made 292 rush attempts over the two years and rushed for 1,539 yards while scoring 15 rushing touchdowns. What’s more impressive to accompany that production, is 80 missed tackles forced and only one fumble in that time. 

Grade: B

Jase McClellan, Junior Colson
Rose Bowl Game - Alabama v Michigan / Aaron J. Thornton/GettyImages

6 (187): WR Casey Washington, Illinois

Drake London is a talent but he can’t do it all on his own out there. The addition of Rondale Moore and Darnell Mooney were important this offseason and the Falcons made a smart move by adding a reliable outside wide receiver this late in the draft. Wide receiver was deeply talented this year so waiting till Day 3 to find a guy isn’t a bad strategy. Each season Washington played he got progressively better so the hope is he is still on the incline ready to give Atlanta his best. 

Grade: B+

Casey Washington, Jermari Harris
Illinois v Iowa / Matthew Holst/GettyImages

6 (197): DI Zion Logue, Georgia

A huge upside pick here for Atlanta either their final pick. He has quite the hill to climb based on the fact he’s fighting for a role for a team that drafted three interior defensive linemen and also he played very little in Georgia. He registered 10 pressures and zero sacks last season with nine tackles and his 2023 year was his most productive. There’s potential here, how much though is a little mysterious. 

Grade: B-/C+

Zion Logue, Mykel Williams
2023 SEC Championship - Georgia v Alabama / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages

UDFA Signings-

WR JaQuae Jackson, Rutgers

WR Isaiah Wooden, Southern Utah

P Ryan Sanborn, Texas

CB Jayden Price, North Dakota State

QB John Paddock, Illinois

DB Trey Vaval, Minnesota State

OL Ryan Coll, Richmond

Overall Grade: