Falcons’ rookies get their jersey numbers

FILE - Michigan offensive lineman Jalen Mayfield (73) blocks against Rutgers in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., in this Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, file photo. The Kansas City Chiefs already have spent the offseason rebuilding an offensive line ravaged by injuries and then dominated by Tampa Bay in the Super Bowl. But there is still work to be done, and the next opportunity to provide some help up front for quarterback Patrick Mahomes is the NFL draft. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
FILE - Michigan offensive lineman Jalen Mayfield (73) blocks against Rutgers in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., in this Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019, file photo. The Kansas City Chiefs already have spent the offseason rebuilding an offensive line ravaged by injuries and then dominated by Tampa Bay in the Super Bowl. But there is still work to be done, and the next opportunity to provide some help up front for quarterback Patrick Mahomes is the NFL draft. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

Credit: Paul Sancya

Credit: Paul Sancya

The Falcons’ drafted players have been assigned their jersey numbers: Tight end Kyle Pitts No. 8, free safety Richie Grant No. 27, offensive tackle/guard Jalen Mayfield No. 77, cornerback Darren Hall No. 34, center Drew Dalman No. 67, defensive tackle Ta’Quon Graham No. 95, defensive end Adetokunbo Ogundeji No. 92, returner/cornerback Avery Williams No. 35 and wide receiver Frank Darby No. 88.

Here are the draft bios of the nine players the Falcons selected in the NFL draft:

First round (4th overall ) -- Kyle Pitts, Florida

Height: 6-foot-5 Weight: 245 pounds Arms: 33-½ Hands: 10-5/8 Overview: Forty-nine years have passed since a tight end was taken in the top five of the NFL draft. Pitts became the first tight end to be taken this high since the Denver Broncos selected former Houston tight end Riley Odoms fifth overall in 1972. For his size, Pitts has speed like a receiver and can line up all over the offensive formation. Needs work as a blocker. He has been compared with Oakland tight end Darren Waller, a former Georgia Tech and North Cobb High player. Pitts creates mismatches similarly and has the rare size and speed numbers. Most linebackers are not fast enough to cover him, and most cornerbacks are too small to win a physical matchup. Behind quarterback Trevor Lawrence, he’s considered the second best player in the draft.

Second round (40th overall) – Richie Grant, S, Central Florida

Height: 6-foot Weight: 194 Arms: 32-5/8 Hands: 9-3/8 Bench Press: 225 pounds 12 times Vertical: 34-½ 40-yard dash: 4.49 seconds 20-shuttle: 4.27. 3-cone drill: 6.78

Overview: He tied for third in the FBS with six interceptions as a sophomore. He was first-team All-American Athletic Conference after making 109 tackles over 13 starts. He continued to develop over his career. He also was named a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award which goes to the nation’s top defensive back. He was a two-time All-Florida pick from Choctawhatchee High School. He redshirted as a freshman at UCF in 2017. Grant played free safety, strong safety and sometimes in the slot. He’s better against the run than the pass. Lack of speed hurts him in coverage, but he has a noise for the ball. According to Pro Football Focus, Grant was the highest-graded safety in run-defense in the NCAA in 2020 season. Grant is the second player the Falcons have selected from UCF in franchise history, joining safety/linebacker Kemal Ishmael who was selected in the seventh round of the 2013 draft.

Third round (68th overall) – Jalen Mayfield, G, Michigan

Height: 6-foot-5 Weight: 328 Arms: 32-5/8 Hands: 9-3/4 40-yard dash: 5.31 seconds

Overview: He was an an honorable-mention All-Big Ten pick after starting 13 games at right tackle in 2019. He opted out of the 2020 season , but later changed his mind. He played in two games at right tackle before he suffered a high ankle sprain. He played just over 1,000 snaps in the Big Ten. He anchored an offensive line that paved the way for a running game that gained over 2,200 yards with 26 rushing touchdowns in the 2019 season. In 18 games, the Michigan-native only allowed two sacks. Mayfield is the fifth player the franchise has drafted from the University of Michigan and first since 1978. He joins T James Coode, T Mike Kenn, LB Cart Russ and RB Bill Taylor. The Falcons have picked an offensive lineman in back-to-back drafts in the third round, drafting Matt Hennessy last year with the 78th overall pick. Mayfield is experienced in all run schemes, but needs to improve his drive blocking by getting lower. “He has starting potential, but it might take some time,” according to NFL.com Lance Zierlein.

Fourth round (108th overall) – Darrren Hall, CB, San Diego State

Height: 5-foot-11 Weight: 188 Arms: 30-5/8 Hands: 8-7/8 40-yard dash: 4.41

Overview: He was considered one of the top cornerbacks in the Mountain West Conference. Is from the same school that produce former Falcons safety Damontae Kazee. He got on the field early and played two games as a freshman, but was injured. He started three games and played in 12 the following season. In 2019, he was named honorable mention. Hall was a first-team All-MWC pick as a junior as he had three interceptions and six pass breakups. He participated in the Senior Bowl.

Fourth round (114th overall) – Drew Dalman, C, Stanford

Height: 6-3 Weight: 299 Arms: 32 Hands: 10-½ Bench Press: 225 pounds 33 times Vertical: 33 40-yard dash: 5.00 seconds 20-shuttle: 2.89. 3-cone drill: 7.33

Overview: The son of former Stanford and San Francisco 49ers offensive lineman Chris Dalman, Drew Dalman, as expected with this kind of pedigree, possesses good fundamentals at center. At Stanford, Dalman was a three-year starter who showcased solid consistency and intelligence up front. Dalman, however, does have an undersized frame compared to centers around the NFL, with his 32-inch arms lacking the ideal length at the position. Still, he developed a reputation as someone who finishes blocks in the run game. Dalman projects well to a zone blocking scheme and could compete with Matt Hennessy for the starting center position with the Falcons.

Fifth round (182nd overall) – Adetokunbo Ogundeji, DE, Notre Dame

Height: 6-foot-4 Weight: 260 Arms: 35-½ Hands: 9-½ Bench Press: 225 pounds 22 times Vertical: 32 40-yard dash: 4.78 seconds 20-shuttle: 2.76 3-cone drill: 7.19

Overview: Ogundeji has exceptional length as an edge rusher, evidenced by his 84-inch wingspan. At his size, Ogundeji is a fit for both the 4-3 and 3-4 schemes, which should fit well with the Falcons’ multiple defense that will incorporate both of the base units’ principles. As a fifth-year senior in 2020, Ogundeji became a starter and recorded seven sacks in a season that saw the Fighting Irish reach the College Football Playoff. He also was named a team captain in his final season. Ogundeji does have some fundamental issues to work on, which is why he was projected to be a Day 3 selection from before the draft.

Fifth round (183th overall) – Avery Williams, CB, Boise State

Height: 5-foot-9 Weight: 195 40-yard dash: 4.46 seconds

Overview: A very aggressive and physical cornerback for his size. Plays well in zone coverages and displayed good knowledge of route combinations. He returned a kick 99 yards for a touchdown, averaged 24.0 yards over three punt returns, with a long of 36, at Hawaii in 2020. He was voted the Mountain West special-teams player of the year in 2019.

Sixth round (187th overall) – Frank Darby, WR, Arizona State

Height: 6-foot Weight: 201 Arms: 31-¾ Hands: 9 ⅜ Bench Press: 225 pounds 19 times Vertical: 34-½ 40-yard dash: 4.59 seconds 20-shuttle: 2.61 3-cone drill: 7.15

Overview: Playing behind N’Keal Harry (2018) and Brandon Aiyuk (2019) in back-to-back seasons, Darby was set to become Arizona State’s top receiving option in 2020. However, a rib injury combined with a shortened season because of the COVID-19 pandemic caused Darby to appear in only three games. He finished the season with six catches for 46 yards and a touchdown. In 2019, playing opposite of Aiyuk, Darby totaled 616 receiving yards and eight scores. Darby, a 24-year-old rookie, showed great separation and ball-tracking during his time with the Sun Devils. He likely will be an outside receiver who contributes early on special teams with the Falcons.

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

The Bow Tie Chronicles Podcasts

For more content about the Atlanta Falcons

Follow me on Twitter @DorlandoAJC

On Facebook at Atlanta Falcons News Now

In Other News