Atlanta’s 2022 draft class has a chance to be pretty damn impactful. The Falcons added a pair of high-upside pass rushers, a long-term starting quarterback option, an impressive wide receiver, a physical back set to carve out a major role, and a lump of raw potential in the shape of a linebacker, among others. At first glance, it’s a group with real upside, as even sixth round guard Justin Shaffer and tight end John FitzPatrick have an opportunity to carve out solid reserve roles.
All that said, how many 2022 starters did this team grab? As much as I like the class, the answer is not likely to be a high number barring some fairly major changes to the roster. You have Drake London as an obvious choice, Arnold Ebiketie as a likely one, and Desmond Ridder as a possibility. Go ahead and throw Troy Andersen in there if you think he’s going to vault over Mykal Walker, Rashaan Evans and Nick Kwiatkoski in a world where Deion Jones is traded, but that doesn’t feel particularly likely.
We’re a bit swept up in the good feelings that come with organized team activities and the afterglow of what generally felt like a successful offseason, which is understandable. As I’ve written repeatedly this offseason, Atlanta has set this franchise up well for 2023, and there’s a chance they’ll be a fun and competitive team in the here and now. This draft class was partially about the present, as London and Ebiketie in particular make clear, but otherwise very much about the future, as Andersen and Ridder and others make clear. If all goes well, you’ll be looking at a majority of this class starting games for the Falcons in the near future, filling key roles on a good football team. I just don’t expect this team, which is going to obviously try hard to contend but likely knows that’s a tough road this year, to be in a rush to throw all their rookies into the fire. They weren’t keen to do so in 2021, either, but injuries forced the team’s hand a bit.
To begin the season, then, I’ll say London and Ebiketie will be the only full-time starters, with Ridder and possibly Andersen drawing starts at some point in the season. Unless Ridder faceplants, I imagine at least five of these players will be starting in 2023, with Allgeier, Ridder, and Andersen all having long-term potential worth betting on. It’ll be worrisome if those players—and a sizeable group from the 2021 class—aren’t making big splashes next season, but I wouldn’t panic if they don’t this year.
How many rookie starters are you projecting for Atlanta, though? Go nuts.