The following is an excerpt from Warren Sharp’s 2024 Football Preview book. In addition to Warren’s deep, detailed write-up on all 32 NFL teams, each chapter features page after page of full-color charts, stats, and heatmaps as well as draft class analysis from Ryan McCrystal. Click here for a full FREE chapter from the 2024 Football Preview.

With 2024 NFL training camps on the horizon, we’re starting to understand how 2024 NFL draft classes will impact each roster this season.

Let’s look at the Atlanta Falcons, breaking down the most likely instant-impact rookies from each class, while also providing some insight into why certain early picks may not see the field.

Who are the Atlanta Falcons rookies?

  • Michael Penix Jr. — QB — Round 1
  • Ruke Orhorhoro — DT — Round 2
  • Bralen Trice — EDGE — Round 3
  • Brandon Dorlus — DT — Round 4
  • JD Bertrand — LB — Round 5
  • Jase McClellan — RB — Round 6
  • Casey Washington — WR — Round 6
  • Zion Logue — DT — Round 6

Atlanta Falcons Draft Class Grade:

The Atlanta Falcons received a B- draft grade from Sharp Football.

Which Falcons Rookies Will Make An Impact?

The decision to select Michael Penix Jr. is tough to dissect. If Atlanta hadn’t signed Kirk Cousins, no one would question the pick given his talent as a downfield passer. But they did sign Cousins, so should we downgrade our evaluation of the pick because they’re not maximizing the value of Penix’s rookie contract?

That’s a tough question to answer because we don’t actually know how long Cousins will be in Atlanta. As long as he’s healthy, there will certainly be teams calling the Falcons about a trade next offseason. 

Looking strictly at 2024, however, the Falcons now have one of the most talented backups in the league 一 which isn’t insignificant with a 36-year-old starting quarterback returning from a torn Achilles.

Atlanta traded up, parting with a third-round pick, to select Ruke Orhorhoro (second round). It was a questionable selection given his lack of production. He spent five years at Clemson but didn’t break out until 2023. 

Orhorhoro’s 8.7% pressure rate generated from the interior in 2023 was a solid performance, but it sat at a disappointing 5.1% the year prior. Fifth-year seniors who fall into the one-year-wonder category are always risky, especially at 35th overall after a trade up. 

Brandon Dorlus (fourth round) joins Orhorhoro on the interior line and has a chance to see more action as a rookie. Dorlus was a three-year starter at Oregon and ranked second among Pac-12 interior pass-rushers with a 9.3% pressure rate in 2023. He led the conference with an 8.4% rate in 2022. 

The Falcons added a third defensive tackle to the mix with Zion Logue (seventh round). It’s tough to see how Logue fits in. He’s a non-factor as a pass-rusher (3.9% pressure rate) but also doesn’t have significant experience at nose tackle, though that is probably where his traits fit best. 

Bralen Trice (third round) has modest physical traits but impressive production, and he should compete for reps on the edge. Trice generated a pressure rate of 15% or higher in each of the last two seasons. Lorenzo Carter is in the final year of his contract, so Trice may have a shot at replacing him in 2025.

JD Bertrand (fifth round) adds depth at linebacker but is likely limited to special teams, where he saw significant action on every unit throughout his career at Notre Dame.

Jace McClellan (sixth round) will compete for a backup job behind Bijan Robinson. He has a similar skill set to Tyler Allgeier as a between-the-tackles runner.

Their late-round pick with the most upside might be Casey Washington (sixth round), who has the speed to stretch the field and generated a catch rate 8.8% above expected over his final two seasons at Illinois. 

Ultimately, the success of this class hinges on Penix’s development 一 even more so than a typical class anchored by a quarterback given the shock of the selection. In the short term, however, this class will have significantly more impact on the defense.

This analysis continues in the 2024 Football Preview

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Draft Class Analysis for All 32 Teams
Arizona Cardinals
Atlanta Falcons
Baltimore Ravens
Buffalo Bills
Carolina Panthers
Chicago Bears
Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns
Denver Broncos
Dallas Cowboys
Detroit Lions
Green Bay Packers
Houston Texans
Indianapolis Colts
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New England Patriots
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Philadelphia Eagles
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Seattle Seahawks
San Francisco 49ers
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Tennessee Titans
Washington Commanders