The draft, which had been scheduled to take place in Las Vegas, was successfully completed virtually from the homes of coaches, general managers and other front-office staff because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Here's a pick-by-pick look at how each player the Falcons have selected will fit.
A.J. Terrell's NFL draft profile
A.J. Terrell is a physically gifted cornerback from Clemson who is long and plays fast.
Round 1, No. 16 overall: A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson
My take: The Falcons needed a starting-caliber cornerback after releasing one-time Pro Bowler Desmond Trufant, and Terrell has the size (6-foot-1, 195) and speed (4.42 seconds in the 40-yard dash) to be a longtime starter. But there are questions about some aspects of his technique and his coverage down the field, which is something the Falcons will have to work on so he can make an immediate impact. The Falcons have plenty of faith in returning cornerbacks Kendall Sheffield and Isaiah Oliver, and coach Dan Quinn even mentioned Sheffield as a No. 1 corner. But if Terrell doesn’t come in and contribute as a starter right away, the pick will be questioned, particularly with the Falcons facing a playoffs-or-bust season. The Falcons need to have solid coverage in the secondary, especially against Drew Brees and now Tom Brady in the NFC South.
Off the board: Two players who appeared to be legitimate possibilities for the Falcons came off the board before Atlanta selected. The first was Florida cornerback CJ Henderson, who went No. 9 to Jacksonville. The other was South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, who went No. 14 to San Francisco. It’s hard to believe the Falcons would have passed on Kinlaw had he fallen to No. 16, especially after Quinn talked about how hard it is to find interior pass-rushers.
What about that trade? There was all kinds of talk about Atlanta preparing to make a big splash and move up in the draft. Fans got excited when they heard a report about the Falcons calling the Redskins about the No. 2 pick with thoughts of landing Chase Young. Well, all that talk sounded nice, but the Falcons stayed put. It seemed logical for the Falcons to try to move up at least into the top 10. Thomas Dimitroff had completed five first-round trades as the Falcons' general manager entering the night.
Marlon Davidson's NFL draft profile
Marlon Davidson's highlights at Auburn show a defensive end who has power, explosiveness and versatility.
Round 2, No. 52 overall: Marlon Davidson, DE, Auburn
My take: The Falcons did the right thing in selecting a defensive lineman with pass-rush ability. Davidson led Auburn with 7.5 sacks last season and had 17 career sacks, tied for the ninth-most in school history. His size (6-foot-3, 303) would indicate that he might be better suited to play inside next to Grady Jarrett, and coach Dan Quinn talked about how much he values hard-to-find interior pass-rushers. On paper, the Falcons look much better up front with edge-rusher Dante Fowler Jr., who signed in free agency, and now Davidson. A team that ranked near the bottom of the league in pressure the last two seasons should get more of a push against elite quarterback Tom Brady and Drew Brees in the NFC South.
Matt Hennessy's NFL draft profile
Check out highlights from inside the Temple trenches with center Matt Hennessy, a prospect in the 2020 NFL draft.
Round 3 No. 78 overall: Matt Hennessy, C, Temple
My take: The Falcons have been on Hennessy for a while and watched him closely at the Senior Bowl. One evaluator outside of the organization said he would be the ideal future replacement at center for Alex Mack. Until then, there’s no reason why Hennessy shouldn’t be able to come in and compete for the starting spot at left guard. He could help protect Matt Ryan, who was sacked a career-high 48 times last season. Hennessy played guard at the start of his college career. He is light on his feet and moves with ease, though he's a little bit undersized. He needs to get stronger but should upgrade the line now and for years to come.
Round 4 No. 119 overall: Mykal Walker, LB, Fresno State
My take: The Falcons don't have much depth behind star Deion Jones and upcoming linebacker Foye Oluokun. The team lost 2019 leading tackle De'Vondre Campbell in free agency to the Arizona Cardinals, and Campbell had size and length to make plays sideline to sideline and cover tight ends. Walker, at 6-3 and 230 pounds, has size. He also seems to have position versatility standing up on the edge and playing inside in college. The criticism appears to be that he’s a little stiff, but linebackers coach Jeff Ulbrich will find a way to get the most out of him. Walker looks like an ideal candidate to be a major special-teams contributor while working himself into the defensive rotation. He needs to get stronger and possibly put on some more weight. The Falcons have definitely tried to shore up the defense, with three defenders in their first four picks.
Round 4, No. 134 overall: Jaylinn Hawkins, S, California
My take: If there’s an overall theme in this draft, the Falcons are really looking for guys with position versatility. In picking Hawkins, they have someone who started his college career at wide receiver, moved to cornerback then finished up at safety. Hawkins had 10 career interceptions with Cal, and the Falcons are looking for guys capable of creating turnovers. This might be a little bit of a reach with Hawkins a projected seventh-round pick. But the Falcons obviously see size and ability at a need position, with the injuries the team has had at safety with Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen. Hawkins should also be able to contribute on special teams.
Round 7, No. 228 overall: Sterling Hofrichter, P, Syracuse
My take: The Falcons must have been impressed with Hofrichter enough to bring him in to compete with Ryan Allen for the punting job. Matt Bosher, the last drafted punter (2011), is no longer on the roster and Dan Quinn talked about having players competing at both punter and kicker, where Younghoe Koo returns. Hofrichter punted in 49 games in college and was a four-time, Ray Guy Award candidate at the nation’s top punter. He appears to have great hang time based on highlights. Being a seventh-round pick, it’s a low-risk pick, although some might wonder if he could have be signed as an undrafted free agent. His gross average in college was 43.27 yards.