Ruke Orhorhoro

Grounded Draft?

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

The 2024 NFL Draft is over now. Let’s take a look at the Atlanta Falcons.

Draft Picks:

Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. (#8)

Clemson DT Ruke Orhorhoro (#35)

Washington OLB Bralen Trice (#74)

Oregon DE Brandon Dorlus (#109)

Notre Dame LB JD Bertrand (#143)

Alabama RB Jase McClellan (#186)

Illinois WR Casey Washington (#187)

Georgia DL Zion Logue (#197)

You may have heard by now that Atlanta drafted Michael Penix Jr. with the eighth pick.

He was outstanding last season at Washington. He led the Huskies to an undefeated season and a National Championship game appearance. He was the NCAA passing yards leader with 4,903 yards, 36 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and he completed 65.4% of his passes.

He won the Maxwell Award (2023), First-team All-American (2023) and AP Comeback Player of the Year (2022).

The biggest problem is that the Falcons signed Kirk Cousins to a four-year, $180 million contract with $100 million guaranteed. It does not make any sense to draft another quarterback that high with the amount of money they invested in Cousins.

They appear to want to win now so they should have drafted a complementary piece that can help the team now. The biggest need was a pass rusher and Dallas Turner (Alabama) was available.

Penix has an injury history that some teams were nervous about. He tore his ACL in back-to-back seasons when he was at Indiana. I think he’s a great player but he will sit behind Cousins for at least two seasons.

“I love winning, and I’m a team guy,” Penix said during his introductory press conference. “That’s what I’m going to be in the locker room.”

“Kirk is an amazing guy. I actually watched the ‘Quarterback’ series with him. Seeing that he’s a man of faith, just like me, and he’s all about family – I really enjoyed that, to get a feel of what kind of guy he is. I’m super blessed to be in the room with him and to be able to work with him and learn from him and support him as he continues on his career.”

Orhorhoro was a reach in the second round. In his last two years at Clemson he had 16 tackles for loss and 9 sacks.

He’s an interior defensive lineman so he doesn’t add much to the pass rush. He was Third-team All-ACC last season. They should have picked a corner back or defensive end here.

Trice might help in the second level. In 2023 he had 49 total tackles, 11.5 TFL and 7 sacks.

Dorlus played at Oregon all 5 years. He started as a defensive tackle and finally made the switch to defensive end last season. He only had 6.5 TFL and 5 sacks in 2023.

Bertrand is interesting because he had a breakout season in 2021 and statically got worse after that. In 2021 he had 102 total tackles. He had 82 tackles in 2022 and 76 in 2023. He played in every game each season so I’m not sure what the issue is.

McClellan and Washington add depth at the skill positions.

Logue will help stop the run but he’s not a pass rusher. He has 1.5 sacks in his college career, which is five seasons.

Atlanta also needed a corner back and they did not draft one. They will need to address that in the undrafted free agent pool. They still have the same question marks on defense after the draft.

Draft grade: C-