1. The no-spin zone: Now that the draft is over, the Falcons can look at their depth chart and decide how to proceed for the rest of the offseason.

“Really happy with the outcome of both free agency and the draft,” Falcons assistant general manager Kyle Smith said Tuesday.

Falcons safety Jessie Bates III believes the defense can build off some of last season’s work.

“We started something last year. I hate talking about the past, but we started some good momentum with guys that we had here,” Bates III said. “A lot of those core pieces are back.”

That may explain why the Falcons used five draft picks to address the front seven on defense but not the secondary.

“It’s our job, I feel like as leaders, is to show those younger guys how this thing works,” Bates said. “How do you go to work, day in and day out. Everybody wants to get one percent better every day, but how do you do that. That’s not just football. That’s taking care of your body. Taking care of your time management. It’s multiple things.”

Bates has incorporated Yoga and meditation into his offseason routine.

The players have received a clear message from coach Raheem Morris.

“As a leader, this is the vision,” Bates said. “This is what we are going with.”

Bates is headed into his second season with the Falcons. He formerly played for the Bengals.

“With him coming in and setting the atmosphere for what we want to be as a team,” Bates said. “The way he’s explaining everything. How he wants us to be football players. How he wants us to be complete men. Just overall, all around great people in this building.”

Bates, like Smith, believes the Falcons did a good job in free agency and the draft.

“There’s no question about what Terry and those guys got going upstairs,” Bates said. “I truly believe in everything that they are doing. It’s going to continue to build this thing the right way.”

Bates was asked about the team selecting quarterback Michael Penix Jr. with the eighth overall pick.

“I’m here to play football,” Bates said. “Terry brought me here. I truly believe that everything that he does, is to help this team. There (are) going to be a lot of questions about why we made that pick, but as a leader, I have to be the guy, ‘this is the vision.’ This is what we are going with. Do all that I can to make sure that I do my part. Same for the other guys.”

Fontenot has not addressed the team about the move.

“No,” Bates said. “He did not. There has not been anything said about that. I don’t think there should be anything said about it. This is the league that we play in. This is what happens.

“That’s why there is a draft to bring in new players. There are some uncomfortable conversations obviously, but that’s what we do not just as football players, but in life as well.”

Atlanta Falcons safety Jessie Bates III (3) scored a touchdown after intercepting a New Orleans Saints pass during the first half of a NFL football game between the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints in Atlanta on Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023.   (Bob Andres for the Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Credit: Bob Andres

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Credit: Bob Andres

2. Defensive line treat: Bates believes the rookies along the defensive line are in for a football treat.

“It’s always good to (work with) Grady (Jarrett) and David (Onyemata),” Bates said. “Those guys have played at a very high level in this league. When you have that, there is another piece of it when you have to bring in younger guys, teach those guys how to work.”

The offseason program has started and the rookie minicamp is set for next week.

“They’ll be able to latch on to them like big brother, little brother and learn a lot,” Bates said.

3. Bates’ reactions: Bates had some instant reactions to the Penix news.

“My phone was buzzing like I’d got drafted again,” Bates said. “But, it wasn’t very surprising to me. I knew what type of player he is. Being from Indiana, I kind of had an idea about who he was. I think he had a couple almost upsets against Ohio State.”

4. On the 3-4 base defense: Bates is looking forward to playing behind a 3-4 defensive front.

“It’s something that I have not been around, in a 3-4 front,” Bates said. “But it’s a great mix up. Everything almost looks the same. It’s very challenging playing against it. Offenses don’t like that five-up look”

5. Depth chart: Here’s the updated post-draft depth chart with the rookies (drafted and undrafted):


QB – Kirk Cousins, Taylor Heinicke, Michael Penix Jr., John Paddock

RB – Bijan Robinson, Tyler Allgeier, Avery Williams, Carlos Washington Jr., Jase McClellan

FB – Tucker Fisk, Robert Burns

WR – Drake London, Josh Ali, Austin Mack, Greg Washington, JaQuae Jackson

Slot WR – Rondale Moore, Ray-Ray McCloud

TE – Kyle Pitts, Charlie Woerner, John FitzPatrick, Austin Stogner

LT – Jake Matthews, Tyler Vrabel, Barry Wesley

LG – Matthew Bergeron, John Leglue, Ryan Coll

C – Drew Dalman, Ryan Neuzil, Jovaughn Gwyn

RG – Chris Lindstrom, Kyle Hinton, Nolan Potter

RT – Kaleb McGary, Storm Norton, Ryan Swoboda

WR – Darnell Mooney, KhaDarel Hodge, Chris Blair, Isaiah Wooden

DEFENSE 3-4 alignment

DE – Zach Harrison, Kentavius Street, Demone Harris, James Smith-Williams, Brandon Porlus

NT – David Onyemata, LaCale London, Tommy Togiai, Eddie Goldman, Zion Logue

DT – Grady Jarrett, Kentavius Street, Ta’Quon Graham, Willington Previlon, Ruke Orhorhoro

LOLB – Arnold Ebiketie, Ade Ogundeji

LILB – Kaden Elliss, Donavan Mutin, Milo Eifler

RILB – Troy Andersen, Nate Landman, J.D. Bertrand

ROLB – Lorenzo Carter, DeAngelo Malone, Breland Trice

CB – A.J. Terrell, Antonio Hamilton, Jayden Price, Anthony Sao

Nickel CB – Mike Hughes, Dee Alford, Trey Vaval

FS – Jessie Bates III, Micah Abernathy, Tre Tarpley III

SS – DeMarcco Hellams, Richie Grant, Lukas Denis

CB – Clark Phillips III, Natrone Brooks, Kevin King


K – Younghoe Koo

P/H – Bradley Pinion, Ryan Sanborn

LS – Liam McCullough

PR – Ray-Ray McCloud or Avery Williams

KOR – Ray-Ray McCloud or Avery Williams

6. Pronunciation help: “Oh-row-row-row” is how you pronounce Ruke Orhorhoro’s last name.

7. Undrafted class: Former Texas punter Ryan Sanborn was among a group of 10 undrafted rookie free agents – including three cornerbacks – who signed with the Falcons on Tuesday.

Sanborn (6-foot-3, 211 pounds) started his career at Sanford and played at Texas last season as a graduate transfer.

The Falcons also signed offensive lineman Ryan Coll (6-5, 324, Richmond), wide receiver JaQuae Jackson (6-2, 190, Rutgers), quarterback John Paddock (6-0, 190, Illinois), offensive lineman Nolan Potter (6-6, 301, Northern Illinois), cornerback Jayden Price (6-0, 184, North Dakota State), cornerback Anthony Sao (6-1, 200, MidAmerica Nazarene), tight end Austin Stogner (6-6, 258, Oklahoma), cornerback Trey Vaval (6-0, 170, Minnesota State-Mankato) and wide receiver Isaiah Wooden (5-9, 170, Southern Utah).

Oklahoma running back Austin Stogner (18) flies through the air as he makes a leaping catch in front of Texas defensive back Chris Brown (15) during the third quarter at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020. Oklahoma won in quadruple overtime, 53-45. (Tom Fox/Dallas Morning News/TNS)

Credit: TNS

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Credit: TNS

8. Guardian helmets: Bates and Chris Lindstrom said they were not likely to wear the recently approved padded helmets.

The equipment is manufactured in Peachtree Corners.

9. Draft position by position series:


WIDE RECEIVERS -- Don’t sleep on Washington’s Rome Odunze among talented wide receivers | Top 10 WRs

RUNNING BACKS -- ‘Day two is going to be the running back day,’ an analyst says | Top 10 RBs

TIGHT ENDS -- Ex-Georgia standout Brock Bowers is the top tight end | Top 10 TEs

QUARTERBACKS -- After Caleb Williams, is Jayden Daniels or Drake Maye the next quarterback? | Top 10 QBs

OFFENSIVE LINE -- Mims, Van Pran-Granger could help NFL teams in the trenches | Top 5 C, OG, OTs

DEFENSIVE LINE -- T’Vondre Sweat’s recent arrest will impact his status | Top 5 DTs, DEs

LINEBACKERS -- Dallas Turner likes to hit quarterbacks | Top 10 LBs

CORNERBACKS -- Alabama cornerbacks Arnold, McKinstry ready for next level | Top CBs

SAFETIES --Javon Bullard’s instinctive play style should translate well in NFL | Top 10 safeties

SPECIAL TEAMS -- NFL draft: New kickoff return rules to boost special-teams players | Top 10 special

The Bow Tie Chronicles