History of the Atlanta Falcons
Back when the NFL expanded to Atlanta in 1966, the league did its best to keep expansion teams from turning into instant doormats. The newly formed Falcons were given an expansion draft. They received the first pick in the college draft. Also, the final pick of each of the first five rounds of the college draft. That gave them 10 players out of the first 80 players selected.
It didn’t matter. The Falcons were terrible in their first year, finishing with just three wins. It got worse in 1967 when they won just a single game. The year after that, they had two wins.
It wouldn’t be until Atlanta’s 13th NFL season before they made the playoffs as a wild card team. In another two years, they won their first division title, the NFC West. 18 years after that, they won just their second division title and played in their first Super Bowl.
Atlanta Falcons Success
The Falcons have appeared in two Super Bowls, losing both. Losing Super Bowl LI in the most infamous of fashions, by blowing a 28-3 third quarter lead.
The Falcons haven’t been in the playoffs in the last four years. Overall they’ve struggled to find sustained success as a team. They have, however, been home to some great players.
Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders began his career with the Falcons. He also played baseball with the Atlanta Braves. Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez ended his career with the Falcons, playing four years in Atlanta. And Defensive end Claude Humphrey was drafted third overall in 1968 by the Falcons. He went on to be a First-team All-Pro five times. His unofficial career sack total is 126.5.
NFL Big Changes from Last Season – Atlanta Falcons
There was a lot of excitement surrounding the Falcons when the 2021 season began. They had a new head coach in former Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith. Matt Ryan was still the quarterback, and even though he was aging, he was still very good. And Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley made for a pair of great wide receivers.
Before training camp even started Jones was gone to the Titans. Ridley spent much of the season on the sideline. He was suspended by the NFL for all of 2022 because he placed wagers on pro football. And now Ryan is quarterbacking in Indianapolis. Leaving Marcus Mariota as the starting quarterback in 2022.
Mariota did play with Smith as his offensive coordinator in Tennessee several seasons ago. He’s been stuck as a backup for the last three seasons. Mariota elevation to QB1 does not inspire a lot of confidence about the upcoming offensive season.
Atlanta Falcons Draft Picks
The Falcons did use a third round draft pick on Cincinnati Bearcat quarterback Desmond Ridder. By the second day of training camp, Mariota had been named the starter. Still, Ridder may get a chance this season to prove that he is in fact the Atlanta quarterback of the future.
Kyle Pitts is a future star at tight end. He has a young running mate at wide receiver with the selection of Drake London in the first round. London caught 88 passes for 1,084 yards and seven touchdowns in just eight games last season. He has the size, speed, hands, and the look of a future star.
In between the selection of London and the selection of Ridder, the Falcons took a pair of linebackers. Arnold Ebiketie had 9.5 sacks for Penn State last season, and he will be an EDGE rusher in Atlanta. Troy Anderson had 147 tackles last season at Montana State, and he will play inside linebacker.
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