2023 IDP Rookie Profile: Derick Hall, EDGE

2023 IDP Rookie Profile: Derick Hall, EDGE

The EDGE class has some interesting prospects. A few five-star phenoms. A few massively productive players. Even a few physical freaks that could be unrealized superstars. So where does a guy like Derick Hall fit in? He wasn’t a phenom, and he has produced, but not at a crazy level. He isn’t a physically freakish athlete, but he definitely isn’t a slouch. Hall is a well-rounded EDGE, and a team is going to get an NFL talent on the second day of the draft. 


  • College: Auburn
  • Height: 6’3″
  • Weight: 254 lbs. 
  • Age: 22 yrs. (March 19, 2001)
  • Year: Senior
  • Hands: 10″
  • Arms: 34.5″
  • 40-Yard Dash: 4.55
  • Vertical Jump: 33.5″
  • Broad Jump: 10’7″
  • Draft Projection: Second Day

College Career

Hall was a star athlete at Gulfport High School in Mississippi, earning all-state honors in football, starting on the basketball squad, and also starring on the track team. He was a state finalist in the 200-meter dash. As a four-star, Hall received offers from Florida, Florida State, Ole Miss, and Arkansas amongst his 15 offers. After several visits, Hall decided to attend Auburn University. 

Defense & Fumbles Table
Tack Tack Tack Tack Tack Def Def Def Def Def Fumb Fumb Fumb Fumb
Year School Class Pos G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk Int Yds Avg TD PD FR Yds TD FF
*2019 Auburn FR LB 7 9 4 13 1.5 0.0 0 0 0 0 0 0
*2020 Auburn SO LB 8 16 5 21 4.0 4.0 0 0 0 0 0 1
*2021 Auburn JR LB 13 33 19 52 12.5 9.0 0 0 0 0 0 2
2022 Auburn SR DL 12 41 19 60 11.5 6.5 1 19 19.0 0 0 1 0 0 2
Career Auburn 99 47 146 29.5 19.5 1 19 19.0 0 0 1 0 0 5

Hall started games in all four seasons but made a big impact in his junior season. He had 52 tackles and nine sacks in 2021, playing as a linebacker/EDGE player. Hall earned second-team All-SEC after the season and returned for his senior season. 

In 2022, Hall led the Tigers with 12 tackles for a loss and seven sacks, adding 60 tackles, an interception, and forced two fumbles. His play led to first-team All-SEC accolades. 


The Blend of Power and Speed

Hall has an enticing blend of speed and power. His hands are incredibly powerful, and his calling card will be his ability to convert speed to power. Hall can create some bend but isn’t a guy who will make that a strength. He’s got phenomenal athletic ability and was used in many ways while at Auburn. 

The first several sacks in this video showcase the speed, as Hall makes it by the tackle with ease. Then I wanted to include several that show power, hands, and different ways that he wins. Speed is what will set up most of his pass-rushing snaps. Then he can throw in the power and hands or counters as they develop.

Run Defense

When it comes to stopping the run, Hall is good in this area as well. If he is engaged, he recognizes a run developing and can peel off to make a stop. He’s got tremendous reach and can corral a passing ball carrier in a massive area. 

These clips showcase a few ways he assists in run defense and how Hall disengages from his pass rush to help. He’s got good instincts and awareness to realize what is developing and then seems to unlock from linemen easily to peel into the lane and stop a ball carrier. I came away impressed with his run defense.

Pass Rushing Prowess

Hall is developing into his role as a pass rusher, and he already has solid groundwork. He can set the edge, and his hands make it tough for tight ends to block him. Speed to power is how he creates his advantage, and the rest of his game is coming along. 


Needs to Develop as Pass Rusher

The fact that his game is coming along is also a weakness. What if this is as good as Hall gets? If he is at his ceiling, he will not be as valuable. He can create mismatches with speed and a wallop of power, but he’s going to need more counters and combinations. 

Lack of Bend

As I mentioned above, the inability to create bend consistently will hinder what he can do. Hall will need to couple that speed with a bend. His hips are tight, but a lack of flexibility is evident on his pass-rushing reps. 

The Wrap Up

Teams searching for a pass rusher will get a shot to take Hall on the second day of the draft likely. I have seen him mocked late in round one, but I believe day two is more likely. Hall has potential – with speed, power, and athletic ability, coupled with his size, he could be a phenomenal EDGE rusher. 

For IDP purposes, Hall is not likely to make much of a dent in scoring his first year but could develop into a decent option. He’s likely going to be an outside linebacker and has the ability to rake in some tackles, but I am not sure he ever breaks the ten-sack threshold consistently. I am targeting him later in the second round or third round of IDP rookie drafts. 

The NFL Draft has room for EDGE rushers beyond the first two or three to make an impact; that’s where Hall falls in. He’s got the potential to be a star in the NFL. I could see him having 60 tackles a year with a few turnovers forced and in the eight to ten sack range. Hopefully, his ceiling is higher, and it will depend on development.

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Every XFL team’s highest-graded players heading into Week 6

Every XFL team’s highest-graded players heading into Week 6

• RBs Rod Smith and Brian Hill debut at the top: Both boast 70.0-plus grades this season.

• TE Cody Latimer keeps putting on a show: The XFL’s leader in contested catches enjoyed his best outing yet in Week 5, totaling 124 yards and a score on eight catches.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Week 6 of the XFL is here, with the Seattle Sea Dragons and Orlando Guardians set to open the slate on Saturday. Here are PFF’s highest-graded players through five weeks of action.

For more data and premium stats from the 2023 XFL season, check out PFF premium stats.

Click here for previous weeks:

Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5

Arlington Renegades

While Horton was lauded as the XFL’s top run-blocking guard through four weeks, he faltered in that facet this past week. Instead, it was his pass blocking that shined amid a tough offensive outing for the Renegades. His 87.0 pass-blocking grade for the game tied for the week’s highest mark among guards.

Barnes, like Horton, continues his reign atop the leaderboard for the Renegades. He has earned a negative grade on just 4.5% of his run-blocking snaps (fourth best) while producing a positive grade on 27.3% of those snaps (fifth best).

DC Defenders

King barely qualifies for the season-long snap-count threshold after playing just six snaps in D.C.’s Week 5 win. But, at this point, he could play one snap and still score. He has now found the end zone — whether through the air or on the ground — in all five weeks. He did earn his first poor grade of the season in Week 5 due to the small sample size and an interception on a two-point try.

Mintze debuts atop the defensive leaderboard for the Defenders after racking up five quarterback pressures — including two sacks — against St. Louis. His 11 pressures on the season are a top-10 mark among XFL edge defenders.

Houston Roughnecks

Borghi returned in Week 5 after sitting out the prior contest due to injury. It was a largely unproductive rushing outing on just six attempts, with the former Washington State standout generating 12 yards and a score on six carries. He made his mark through the air, though, catching all five targets sent his way for 21 yards and forcing a season-high three missed tackles.

John Daka‘s quieter day against the Sea Dragons opened the door for Beckett, who has graded well all season, to claim the top spot. Beckett is the XFL’s highest-graded linebacker after earning his third 80.0 game grade of the season this past week. He has missed only two tackles and ranks in the top 10 at the position in stops (11), which are tackles that lead to an offensive failure.

Las Vegas Vipers

A new crop of running backs is beginning to emerge at the top of the XFL leaderboard, with Smith among them. He posted a season-high 81.2 grade in Week 5, forcing two missed tackles and finding the end zone twice on 18 carries.

Taumoepenu, a former sixth-round pick of the Denver Broncos, recorded three sacks in Week 5 and beat his blocker on another two reps. Missed tackles (seven) continue to plague him, as does a poor showing in run defense (42.0 grade), but he sure does get after it as a pass rusher. His 91.7 pass-rushing grade is the second-highest mark among all XFL defenders.

Orlando Guardians

Latimer is the only player who has been featured for his team in all five iterations of this article. And Week 5 was his best showing yet. The Guardians’ offense finally broke out of its shell with quarterback Quinten Dormady at the helm, and Latimer totaled 124 yards and a score on eight catches. Outside of his touchdown grab, his best play was a 31-yard contested catch down the sideline in the fourth quarter.

Plummer’s 3.3% missed tackle rate ranks second among XFL linebackers through Week 5, and his 12 stops are tied for fifth. After posting his fourth 70.0-plus game grade in five outings, Plummer has established himself as one of the XFL’s most consistent defenders — particularly as a tackler and a run defender.

San Antonio Brahmas

Both of the Brahmas’ top-graded players from Week 4 return for Week 5. Levao didn’t allow a single quarterback pressure on 42 pass-blocking snaps against Arlington and posted season-high marks in run-defense grade (76.6) and overall grade (81.5).

Barcoo is one of only a handful of players who can earn a 46.5 game grade and still rank as the XFL’s best at his position; he’s had that great of a year. He allowed three catches on six targets for 43 yards this past week and didn’t record a pass breakup for the first time all season. Still, his seven breakups overall rank first among cornerbacks.

Seattle Sea Dragons

Pearson, arguably the XFL’s most consistent receiver thus far, makes his season debut here. He leads the league in receiving yards (430) despite having just one touchdown catch and has yet to record less than 75 yards in a game. His 46 targets and 197 yards after the catch also pace all XFL pass catchers.

Skipper almost replicated his Week 4 performance in Week 5, tallying two sacks, a forced fumble and a 75.0-plus overall grade. He is also one of four XFL edge defenders to have played 100-plus snaps and not missed a tackle.

St. Louis Battlehawks

Hill, a 2017 fifth-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons, now has 250 rushing yards on just 48 carries this season. He pairs that with 110 receiving yards on 11 catches as one of the XFL’s most productive backs. He is the league’s lone running back to have forced 15 missed tackles on the ground and five as a receiver.

Feeney has two 90.0-plus game grades and two sub-51.0 game grades this season, and while Week 5 was of the latter variety, his pass-rushing prowess is undeniable. The former sixth-round pick added another three quarterback pressures and a stop to his season totals, ranking as the XFL’s fourth-highest-graded edge defender.

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UFC San Antonio PrizePicks Today: Vera vs Sandhagen

UFC San Antonio PrizePicks Today: Vera vs Sandhagen

DFS Army’s Geek takes a look at the top UFC San Antonio Vera vs Sandhagen prop bets to target on PrizePicks. Grab these expert MMA picks today and get in on the action!

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August 17, 2019; Anaheim, CA, USA; Cory Sandhegen moves in with a knee hit against Raphael Assuncao during UFC 241 at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

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2023 NFL Draft: Defensive back prospect superlatives

2023 NFL Draft: Defensive back prospect superlatives

• Alabama safety Brian Branch garners two superlatives: He wins both “best tackler” and “best slot.”

• Oregon’s Christian Gonzalez is as versatile as they come: There’s truly no weakness to his game athletically. He’s a big, explosive defender with the hips of a smaller cornerback.

• The underrated Ronnie Hickman wins “best two-high”: His ability to break out of his stance from a pedal or while flat-footed is exactly what you want from a two-high safety.

Estimated Reading Time: 4 mins

Defensive back is becoming such a versatile position at the NFL level that it only felt right to lump the corners and safeties together for this one. While this is a loaded class of corners on both the outside and in the slot, the same cannot be said about the safety position.

Best Make-Up Speed: DJ Turner, Michigan

If you run a 4.26-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, chances are this superlative was made for you. Turner has such easy gas that he can play without fear of getting beaten deep. That’s a skill that translates into every NFL defense.

Best Man Cornerback: Devon Witherspoon, Illinois

Witherspoon playing man coverage is exactly what the elites at the position in the NFL look like. He approaches every rep with an uncoachable edge. Simply put: He’s gonna try to kick your ass. More often than not, he did that last season. On 303 man coverage snaps in 2022, Witherspoon allowed only 13 catches on 46 targets for 115 yards with two picks and 13 forced incompletions.

Best Zone Cornerback: Clark Phillips III, Utah

Phillips may not tick all the physical boxes you want from an NFL cornerback, but there are two distinct facets of cornerback play where he’s as good as it gets in the draft class: his ability to read through receivers to the quarterback, and his ability to work back downhill from off-coverage. Those two skills translate to ball production, as Phillips picked off three passes in zone coverage last season.

Best Press Cornerback: Joey Porter Jr., Penn State

Porter is a pterodactyl at the line of scrimmage with 34-inch arms that pack a serious punch. On 106 press snaps last season, Porter allowed only eight catches on 17 targets for 68 yards with seven forced incompletions. Something tells me he’s going to a scheme where that 106 number at least triples next season.

Most Versatile: Christian Gonzalez, Oregon

Gonzalez’s versatility stems from his high-end, all-around, physical skill set. There’s truly no weakness to his game athletically. He’s a big, explosive defender with the hips of a smaller cornerback. That allows him to stick in any scheme or any role in the secondary and perform.

Best Tackler: Brian Branch, Alabama

Branch may not have the long speed to be drafted too early in the draft, but make no mistake: Whoever drafts him will be getting the single most sound defensive prospect at the moment. He won’t make mental mistakes in coverage and won’t miss plays in front of him. Branch missed four tackles on 174 attempts in his career. 

Best Hips: Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, TCU

Having a lower center of gravity obviously helps with change-of-direction ability, but that doesn’t solely explain how special THT is in this regard. The man is one of the smoothest movers you’ll ever see on a football field and loses almost no speed when forced to flip his hips. That’s why he broke up 29 passes in his college career despite his size.

Best Ball Skills: Emmanuel Forbes, Mississippi State

The FBS leader in pick-sixes (six) may have a knack for locating the football. He combines those ball skills with a 6-foot-7 wingspan and a 4.35-second 40-yard dash that help him get to footballs in the air in a hurry. With 14 career picks and 17 pass breakups in three seasons, Forbes is likely going to find some footballs at the next level, too.

Best Slot: Brian Branch, Alabama

Branch is the best defensive back in this class when it comes to matching route concepts in underneath zone coverage. He was targeted a ridiculous 54 times in the slot this past season. Only 14 of those resulted in conversions. Branch also led all slot cornerbacks with 14 coverage stops at the position. If you need an every-down slot, look no further.

Best Single High: Sydney Brown, Illinois

This was a difficult superlative to hand out because there are not too many true deep safeties in this class. Brown has all the traits to be one of them, but that wasn’t even his role at Illinois. On the 40 snaps he played at true deep safety this past fall, though, Brown still excelled with a 90.4 grade. His range and willingness to come downhill at full speed will be well-served in such a role. 

Best Two-High: Ronnie Hickman, Ohio State

Hickman is one of the more underrated safeties in the draft class. His ability to break out of his stance from a pedal or while flat-footed is exactly what you want from a two-high safety. He earned an 85.0 coverage grade in middle-of-field-open coverages last season.

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Fixing the NFL’s WR-needy teams: Patriots trade for Tee Higgins, Panthers make a move for DeAndre Hopkins

Fixing the NFL’s WR-needy teams: Patriots trade for Tee Higgins, Panthers make a move for DeAndre Hopkins

This year’s crop of free-agent wide receivers was one of the weakest groups in recent memory, so any NFL team needing to massively upgrade at that position was always going to be looking at alternative avenues.

The Dallas Cowboys made a move for Brandin Cooks, but plenty of WR-needy teams are still trying to plot a way to upgrade one of the most important positions in the game.

Here is a pathway for each of those teams.

New England Patriots

Fix: Trade for Tee Higgins

I believe the Bengals when they say they have no intention of trading away Tee Higgins, but everybody has a price, and the Bengals have a lot of financial juggling to do over the next couple of seasons as they try to pay market-leading money to quarterback Joe Burrow and receiver Ja’Marr Chase.

Any potential plan to give comparable money to Higgins would create a salary cap nightmare, and if they plan to simply keep Higgins around for as long as they can without committing long-term money to him, they would be wise to listen to alternative offers.

Either way, everybody has a price, and the Patriots would be wise to test their resolve with a trade offer that features the No. 14 pick of the draft. Higgins showed last season he could be a true No. 1 receiver when Chase wasn’t playing and caught 56.7% of his contested targets overall. Higgins is one of the few players who would immediately transform the outlook of this offense.

Trade picks and players and mock all seven rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft — try free today!

Carolina Panthers

Fix: Trade for DeAndre Hopkins

The loss of receiver D.J. Moore in the trade up to the No. 1 pick is massive for the Panthers, who now face the prospect of deploying a weak group of pass-catchers around their rookie quarterback.

The Panthers are one of the few teams with more than enough cap space to absorb DeAndre Hopkins’ contract, and the fact that it’s a relatively short-term commitment actually works in their favor: If all goes well, the money would come off the books the same time they’d be looking to invest it elsewhere.

However, that contract will keep the price for Hopkins relatively cheap — as the deal for Brandin Cooks showed — and Carolina still has mid-round picks to put to use.

There’s no move in the draft they can make that will have the kind of impact adding Hopkins would, and ensuring that their rookie passer has a chance to succeed is the most important thing this franchise will do after they make the call on which quarterback they draft.

DeAndre Hopkins: PFF overall grade and rank since 2013 (postseason included)
Season Snaps PFF Grade Rank
2022 553 72.9 T-33rd of 102
2021 560 79.8 17th of 94
2020 1,043 87.1 7th of 101
2019 1,114 87.8 5th of 103
2018 1,154 92.0 1st of 110
2017 1,021 90.2 4th of 106
2016 1,224 77.8 27th of 104
2015 1,214 90.6 4th of 101
2014 1,058 84.0 12th of 100
2013 999 68.7 68th of 107


Click here for more PFF draft tools:

Mock Draft Simulator | 2023 NFL Draft Big Board | 2023 NFL Draft Guide

Houston Texans

Fix: Draft Jaxon Smith-Njigba at No. 12 overall

Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba is one of the biggest enigmas in the 2023 NFL Draft. In 2021, in the same offense that fielded first-rounders Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson alongside him, JSN was the player who outgained his more experienced teammates. When Olave and Wilson opted out of their bowl game to prepare for the draft, Smith-Njigba put up 336 yards and three touchdowns on 15 catches.

He then missed almost all of the 2022 season with a lingering hamstring problem. On top of that, he spent just over 90% of his career snaps in the slot and ran a relatively pedestrian 4.53-second 40-yard dash at his pro day, according to most reports.

There is much debate about what exactly his ceiling is in the NFL, but one thing almost nobody disagrees with is that he will be good at something. He will make an offense better.

Houston needs exactly that, and hitting on a receiver for its new quarterback is far more important than what type of receiver that player ends up being. Drafting JSN at No. 12 overall might be the safest move they can make to add quality to a receiving corps badly in need of it.

Trade picks and players and mock all seven rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft — try free today!

Indianapolis Colts

Fix: Trade for Jerry Jeudy

According to reports, Denver’s entire wide receiver room appears to be on the trade block as new head coach Sean Payton returns to the strategy of making Russ cook pre-prepared meals rather than giving him free rein to throw together a pickle and ice cream salad.

The Indianapolis Colts are going to draft their future quarterback in the first round, but that player is going to need an upgrade to a receiver group that has been too reliant on Michael Pittman Jr. since he joined the team.

Pittman has caught 70.5% of the passes thrown his way in the NFL but generated just 1.62 yards per route run over the same time. Jerry Jeudy is an elite separator, particularly against man coverage, and he can operate from the slot or out wide. He brings a lot of the skills that complement the weaker areas of Pittman’s game and would be a force multiplier within this offense.

New York Giants

Fix: Draft Jordan Addison at No. 25 overall

Jordan Addison may well be the best receiver in the draft, but the further along the process we all get, the more the luster appears to be coming off his stock and a slide in the first round sounds more likely.

Addison had relatively unimpressive workout numbers, especially for a player who weighed in at just 170 pounds at the combine, and some are questioning whether that combination of size and average athleticism will succeed as much against NFL athletes as it did in college.

Ultimately, Addison’s trump card is route running and his feel for the game. He gets open and makes plays from all alignments and at all depths and has generated over 2.8 yards per route run over the last two seasons in two different offenses.

The Giants made a big upgrade to their pass-catchers by trading for Darren Waller, and there are some players already on the roster who can emerge as bigger threats in 2023, but adding Addison would immediately put this group over the top and make it a real strength.

Trade picks and players and mock all seven rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft — try free today!

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2023 NFL free agency grades for all 16 NFC teams: Detroit Lions earn an “A-,” bolster secondary with Cameron Sutton, Emmanuel Moseley and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson

2023 NFL free agency grades for all 16 NFC teams: Detroit Lions earn an “A-,” bolster secondary with Cameron Sutton, Emmanuel Moseley and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson

PFF’s free agency grades have been available throughout the flurry of 2023 free agency, but here is a chance to take a broader look at the first real team-building opportunity of the offseason and grade how each NFC team has been performing in 2023. Click here for AFC team grades.

For even more information about the best free agents on the market, monitor PFF’s free agent rankings, which include contract projections, wins above replacement figuresPFF grades and analysis.




• Additions: LB Kyzir White

• Re-signings: RB Corey Clement, G Will Hernandez, OT Kelvin Beachum, K Matt Prater

• Losses: Edge Markus Golden, WR Chosen Anderson, CB Byron Murphy Jr., DI Zach Allen

White — After using first-round picks in back-to-back drafts on off-ball linebackers Isaiah Simmons and Zaven Collins, Arizona adds a veteran who fits really well opposite Collins and started to come on in 2022. Simmons has played various roles, including as more of a strong safety hybrid player, and also started to play better football in 2022 once he settled into that new role. This move enables the Cardinals to deploy their back seven in a lot of different ways.

White has five straight seasons earning a coverage grade above 60.0 and racked up 56 stops in run defense over the past two seasons, the 12th most among off-ball linebackers.

Hernandez — Hernandez missed a chunk of time in the middle of the 2022 season, which was unfortunate because it derailed a quietly excellent pass-blocking campaign for the former second-rounder. From Week 7 through Week 18, Hernandez earned 80.0-plus pass-blocking grades in five of six starts. He recorded a pressure rate allowed below 3.0% on the year and may be tapping back into his potential as a quality pass-blocking guard in this league.

Arizona was set to lose its top four guards in snaps played from 2022 but now retains Hernandez on a win-win, two-year deal.



• Additions: TE Jonnu Smith, DI David Onyemata, S Jessie Bates III, LB Kaden Elliss, QB Taylor Heinicke

• Re-signings: Edge Lorenzo Carter, G Chris Lindstrom, P Bradley Pinion, FB Keith Smith, T Kaleb McGary

• Losses: 

Smith — Smith’s time with the Patriots was forgettable, but he earned a four-year, $50 million contract with the team because of his production with the Tennessee Titans and then-offensive coordinator Arthur Smith.

While he produced solid PFF receiving grades in New England, coming in at 67.7 in 2021 and 72.1 in 2022, a reduction in targets meant that he recorded less than 300 receiving yards in each of those seasons, after putting up at least 450 in his final two seasons in Tennessee. He takes a safe pair of hands with him to Atlanta, having never dropped more than three passes in a single season across his six-year career. While he saw just 27 catchable passes in 2022, all of them resulted in a reception.

The need here is still a bit puzzling, with Atlanta drafting Kyle Pitts fourth overall in 2021 and with an H-back type of player in Parker Hesse involved in the offense already. Atlanta has a lot of cash and cap space to burn, but inheriting $11 million to acquire Smith isn’t the best use of resources.

Onyemata — Ryan Nielsen, Onyemata’s defensive line coach with the New Orleans Saints from 2017-22, is the new Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator. Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot also spent nearly two decades with the Saints, so there is a lot of familiarities here.

Over the past three seasons, Onyemata’s 11.4% pressure percentage ranks 11th among interior defenders, and he earned back-to-back pass-rush grades above 75.0 in 2020 and 2021.

Onyemata began the 2022 season with a suspension, but Atlanta does not appear overly concerned with his production going forward.

Bates — Bates hasn’t hit the heights he did when he produced a 90.1 PFF grade back in 2020, but he has still been an above-average player at the position over the past two seasons. His 72.6 PFF coverage grade over the past two seasons ranks 30th among safeties, but when you factor in the impressive 2020 season, his three-year PFF coverage grade of 90.5 trails only Kevin Byard of the Tennessee Titans and Marcus Williams of the Baltimore Ravens.

Atlanta Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot comes from a New Orleans Saints organization that always emphasized the safety position and his second-ever draft pick with the team was selecting safety Richie Grant No. 40 overall in 2021. Fontenot continues that tradition with a splash signing for the top safety on the market in Jessie Bates III.

Elliss — This will be a truly fascinating deal to look back on in a few years, with another reunion between Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator Ryan Nielsen and one of his former New Orleans Saints players. Prior to 2022, Elliss had played just 197 career snaps after being drafted in the seventh round in 2019.

Finally earning an increased role, Elliss broke out with an 81.5 overall grade on 632 total snaps on the year, becoming a full-time player in Week 9 after an injury to Pete Werner. Elliss is a very versatile player, with 250 snaps down on the line and 330 in the box last season. He racked up 20 pressures and seven sacks on 103 pass-rush snaps, plus an impressive 36 defensive stops given his limited reps. Elliss’ 21 stops in run defense from Week 9 through the end of the season were tied for the fourth most among linebackers.

This could end up being a great signing on an ascending young player, and Nielsen has obviously seen him practice every day for four years, but Atlanta went pretty high here for a guy with a small on-field sample.

Heinicke — Atlanta should be focused on finding its next starting quarterback if the team isn’t 100% certain that’s Desmond Ridder. And in the meantime, the Falcons should spend very little money at the position behind Ridder because he’s proven at the least to be a fine bridge to the future.

Heinicke is an awesome story and a fun player, but he had ample opportunity in Washington this past season, and his 48.9 passing grade ranked 47th out of 48 quarterbacks with 100 or more passing attempts in 2022. The journeyman also led all quarterbacks with at least 100 pass attempts in turnover-worthy play rate (6.2%) in 2022, a half of a percentage point higher than the next player. He’s not a game-managing backup, he tries to be a gunslinger and Atlanta probably could’ve just gone cheaper here with their sights set on the future.

McGary — McGary’s 91.6 PFF run-blocking grade in 2022 was second only to the San Francisco 49ers‘ Trent Williams among offensive tackles, and third across all offensive linemen. It was by far the best season of his career to date, but McGary has improved every season since entering the NFL as the 31st overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft out of Washington.

Atlanta reset the guard market earlier this week extending right guard Chris Lindstrom, and now the team brings back McGary on a multi-year deal, as well. Former Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff selected both players in the first round in 2019, and both now stick around on veteran contracts.

Lindstrom — Lindstrom is coming off a career year during which he thrived in Atlanta’s run-heavy offense, finishing the season with a 95.0 PFF grade that led all offensive linemen. His 93.1 PFF run-blocking grade was also the best across all positions on the offensive line, but he wasn’t limited to just a run blocker. Ranking sixth among all guards with an 81.7 PFF pass-blocking grade, Lindstrom allowed just two sacks, one hit and six hurries from 517 pass-blocking snaps.

Lindstrom was able to capitalize on the recent market reset by Indianapolis Colts guard Quenton Nelson, joining him in the $20 million per year club and signing the first-ever $100 million contract at guard. Atlanta was probably smart to get a deal done on the interior of the offensive line as soon as possible with the pending market explosion on the opposite side for interior defensive linemen, with reps often arguing the position markets should reflect the players they battle against.


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