Day 3: Falcons add six picks on final day of NFL draft

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

The Falcons' new coach and new general manager held their first NFL draft in their new roles.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

The Falcons added six players -- four on defense and two on offense -- Saturday on the final day of the NFL draft.

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The Falcons drafted cornerback Darren Hall from San Diego State with the 108th overall pick in the draft (fourth round) and then picked up center Drew Dalman with the 114th pick, one they acquired Friday in a trade with the Broncos.

In the fifth round, the Falcons selected Texas defensive end Ta’Quon Graham (148th) overall, Notre Dame defensive end Adetokunbo Ogundeji (182nd) and Boise State cornerback Avery Williams (183rd).

In the sixth round, the Falcons selected Arizona State wide receiver Frank Darby (187th overall).

“We’re extremely excited about the six picks today and the nine picks overall,” Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot said. “We have an exceptional group of young man.”

It was Fontenot’s first draft with the Falcons. He was hired as GM in January.

“What you look for from coaches and scouts is passion and conviction,” Fontenot said. “You want to bring in players that you love, and we love this draft class.”

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Coach Arthur Smith also was elated with the class and is looking forward to the competition along the offensive line.

“Again, they’ll play multiple spots,” Smith said. “We’ll have good competition inside. Whether we put them at tackle or put them inside, Dalman can pull the football. We’ll have good competition. The best guys will start and earn their jobs. That’s the best we can do here is add competition and depth.”

Along with Dalman, the Falcons selected Michigan offensive tackle Jalen Mayfield in the third round during Day 2 of the draft Friday.

The Falcons are looking to improve an offensive line that has given up 133 sacks over the past three seasons.

Dalman is the son of former Stanford and San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Chris Dalman, who also is a former assistant coach with the Falcons.

Hall will compete for time in the Falcons’ secondary, which struggled last season. He is from the same school that produced former Falcons free safety Damontae Kazee.

“I was already getting comparisons to Damontae (when he arrived at college),” Hall said. “Just the person that I am, I knew Damonate is a great player, but I wanted to create my own legacy at San Diego State. Before I got there, I said I do not want 23 (the jersey number worn there by Kazee). I did not want it.”

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

The Falcons took tight end Kyle Pitts with the fourth pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Credit: D. Orlando Ledbetter

He later changed his tune.

“When I got there, the second day and we got our lockers.” Hall said. “I am No. 23 and said OK. They gave it to me, I’m going to continue the legacy that he had and do the best that I can in his memory. That’s what I did.”

Hall went on to star for the Aztecs and was considered one of the top cornerbacks in the Mountain West Conference.

He attributed his instinctual play to knowing the team’s playbook.

“Once you know the playbook and you know the schemes that your team is running, you can play a lot faster,” Hall said. “That just gives you an opportunity to focus on the team’s plays and what they like to run.”

Hall was asked to compare his game with Kazee, who was an unrestricted free agent this offseason and signed with the Dallas Cowboys.

“I’m Darren Hall, and I love Damontae,” Hall said. “It would have been very cool to play with him if he was still there. However, I know how the league is. I’m a player, You’ll see.”

San Diego State coach Brady Hoke is the brother of Falcons secondary coach Jon Hoke.

“I know the coaches talk pretty similar, so I know I’ll fit in,” Hall said.

That connection likely helped Hall’s draft status.

“Possibly because I know that Brady would have only good things to say about me, and that probably helped,” Hall said. “That may have helped. It may not have helped. However that’s just how the table turns.”

Hall showed his versatility at the Senior Bowl and played some safety.

“That most definitely helped my draft status,” Hall said. “Just seeing the versatility that I knew I had, but teams seeing it because I only played outside corner and a little bit of safety my freshman year. Just going out there and performing really well, for sure helped my draft stock.”

Hall doesn’t know where the Falcons plan to play him.

“Being versatile and being able to cover,” Hall said are his strengths. “I’m very technical in how I play (defensive back). Just being able to cover whoever is in front of me, tight ends, receivers or running backs. I feel like I do a great job covering.”

Dalman will compete with last year’s third-round pick Matt Hennessy for the starting center position. The Falcons also have an opening at left guard.

Dalman’s father, who played center and right guard for the 49ers from 1993-99, has also been his football mentor.

“First and foremost, I’ve been absolutely spoiled to have an awesome teacher and coach for most of my life,” Dalman said. “That’s been huge (in) building my confidence and my skill set to be able to handle things like (bull rushers).”

Williams was one of the nation’s top kickoff and punt returners at Boise State.

“The X-factor in both is that you have to be fearless back there,” Williams said.

The Falcons did not address the running back position in the draft, but likely will sign a few running backs as undrafted free agents.

“We’ll start working on the undrafted free agents, and we’re going to love that class as well,” Fontenot said.

Stanford center Drew Dalman called the signals up front for the offensive line.
Stanford center Drew Dalman called the signals up front for the offensive line.

Credit: Associated Press

Credit: Associated Press

AJC’S POSITION-BY-POSITION NFL DRAFT SERIES

QUARTERBACKS: How far will Justin Fields drop in draft? | Top 10 QBs

RUNNING BACKS: Plenty of prospects to pick from | Top 10 RBs

WIDE RECEIVERS: Draft deep with talent | Top 10 WRs

TIGHT ENDS: Ability to create mismatches is key | Top 10 TEs

OFFENSIVE TACKLES: A ‘nasty’ bunch | Top 10 OTs

OFFENSIVE GUARDS/CENTERS: The men in the middle | Top 10 C/OGs

END RUSHERS: Pass on this draft stock | Top 10 DEs

DEFENSIVE TACKLES: One star among lackluster block | Top 10 DTs

LINEBACKERS: Deep class for position | Top 10 LBs

CORNERBACKS: Plethora of options for first two rounds | Top 10 CBs

SAFETIES: Falcons likely will add position player | Top 10 Safeties

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