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Who's The Greatest Atlanta Falcon? Ranking The Top 10 Greatest Falcons of All Time

matt ryan fantasy football rankings news NFL DFS lineup picks

The Atlanta Falcons played its first National Football League season in 1966. Then-NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle forced the city to choose between the NFL and the upstart American Football League. Ultimately, the Falcons became the 15th NFL team after Rankin Smith Jr. paid $8.5 million for the expansion franchise.

While the Falcons have never won a Super Bowl, they’ve won two NFC championships and six division titles. They also have 14 playoff appearances as of the 2022 NFL season. The Falcons have played home games at the state-of-the-art Mercedes-Benz Stadium since 2017. Current owner Arthur Blank financed most of the expenses for the stadium that will host fixtures during the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

Though the Falcons’ history is not as extensive as other NFL franchises, many great players still suited up for the squad. That said, here are the ten greatest Atlanta Falcons players.

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10. Jessie Tuggle

Like Andrews, Tuggle is a Georgia native who played his entire NFL career with the Falcons. He made the most of his opportunity when he signed with the team in 1987 as an undrafted free agent. Tuggle made the team and tallied 108 tackles in his rookie season. Since then, he has become one of Atlanta’s most dependable players at linebacker.

The Valdosta State alumnus led the league in tackles from 1990 to 1992. It was also in 1992 that he earned the first of five Pro Bowl selections. Tuggle also became a Second Team All-Pro after finishing with 86 tackles, three sacks, and one forced fumble. He retired from football in 2000 with 1,809 tackles, 21 sacks, and six interceptions. Tuggle is also a part of the Falcons' Ring of Honor.


9. Claude Humphrey

The Falcons selected Humphrey third overall in the 1968 NFL Draft. He played his first 11 NFL seasons in Atlanta, becoming one of the league’s best defensive ends. The Tennessee State alumnus became an eight-time All-Pro (five-time First Team) and six-time Pro Bowler. He was the only player from the legendary 1977 “Grits Blitz” defense that received an individual distinction.

He finished his career with 130 sacks, 11 forced fumbles, two interceptions, and two safeties. It took a while before he got inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. After becoming a Final 15 candidate for three years, he became a senior candidate in 2009. He finally got the well-deserved nod in 2014, over three decades after retiring.


8. Roddy White

White joined the Falcons as their first-round pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. It took a while before he established himself as a starter, tallying only 952 yards and three touchdowns in his first two seasons. He finally had his breakout season in 2007, with 83 receptions for 1,202 yards and six touchdowns. A year later, White got his first of four Pro Bowl selections.

The former UAB standout had his best season in 2010 by leading the league with 115 receptions. Those catches turned into 1,389 yards and ten touchdowns, enough to earn his lone First-Team All-Pro selection. White retired in 2015 after playing only for the Falcons. This Falcons Ring of Honor member closed his career with 808 receptions, 10,863 yards, and 63 touchdowns.


7. Jeff Van Note

The Falcons drafted Van Note in 1969 as a linebacker. However, then-head coach Norm Van Brocklin switched this 11th-round selection to center. He didn’t take much time to learn the position and become one of the best at that spot. Van Note played 18 NFL seasons, all with the Falcons. He is also a model of durability after missing only four games throughout his extensive career.

The Kentucky native became a two-time Second Team All-Pro and six-time Pro Bowler. He played 246 games and made four fumble recoveries. The franchise retired his number 57 jersey in 1986. Van Note was also voted by a majority of Falcons fans as their favorite player during the team’s 25th anniversary in 1991. He became a Falcons Ring of Honor member in 2006.


6. Mike Kenn

While Kenn was the third offensive tackle selected in the 1978 NFL Draft, he had a more productive career than Chris Ward and Gordon King. He already became a First Team All-Pro in his third season after allowing only 3.5 sacks and incurring zero penalties. This Michigan alumnus collected four more All-Pro selections, aside from being a five-time Pro Bowler.

In his last season as First Team All-Pro (1991), Kenn gave up only one sack out of 531 passing attempts. He also dominated that year’s Defensive Player of the Year, Pat Swilling. Kenn retired in 1994 after playing in 251 games. He also has 11 fumble recoveries in 17 seasons. Kenn is a Falcons' Ring of Honor member and a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2015.


5. Tommy Nobis

Nobis earned the Nick" data-id="21734">Nickname “Mr. Falcon” after becoming the expansion team’s first player. They took him as the top overall pick in the 1966 NFL Draft and eventually signed him. After becoming the league's Rookie of the Year and a Pro Bowler, the University of Texas alumnus proved to be the perfect cornerStone" data-id="23644">Stone for the fledgling squad.

He received the only First Team All-Pro selection in 1967 and became Second Team All-Pro in 1968. Nobis led the team in tackles in nine of his 11 seasons. He finished his career with 1,688 tackles, 13 fumble recoveries, 12 interceptions, and two touchdowns. Nobis is a Falcons Ring of Honor member and continues to serve in the Falcons’ front office after his playing days.


4. Julio Jones

The Falcons had high expectations of Jones after taking him sixth overall in the 2011 NFL Draft. He immediately made an impact by finishing his rookie season with 959 yards and eight touchdowns. By the time his tenure with the team ended in 2020, he had become the franchise’s all-time leader in receiving yards and receptions.

Jones became a five-time All-Pro (two-time First Team) and seven-time Pro Bowler in ten seasons at Atlanta. He had his best season in 2015 after leading the league with 136 receptions and 1,871 yards. He also led the league in receptions once and in receiving yards twice. As of the 2022 season, Jones has 903 receptions for 13,629 yards and 63 touchdowns.


3. Michael Vick

The Falcons had to trade up with the San Diego Chargers to get Vick as the top overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft. He ushered in the era of the mobile quarterback that is prevalent nowadays. Vick earned his first Pro Bowl selection in 2002, finishing fourth in the voting for NFL Most Valuable Player. He made two more Pro Bowl selections during his time in Atlanta.

With him behind center, the Falcons won one division title and made two playoff appearances. He also led the team to the 2004 NFC Championship Game but lost to the Philadelphia Eagles. He retired in 2015 with an NFL record of 6,109 rushing yards. Vick also had career numbers of 22,464 yards and 133 passing touchdowns.


2. Deion Sanders

Sanders was so good that he played professional football and baseball simultaneously. He started his NFL career with the Falcons as the fifth overall selection in the 1989 draft. He became a two-time First Team All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowler in five seasons with the Falcons. He also led the league in kickoff return yards in 1992.

More importantly, he helped give the Falcons an identity after years of futility. His best season in Atlanta came in 1991 when he had 49 total tackles, six interceptions, two forced fumbles, and a sack. Sanders finished his career with 5,722 all-purpose return yards, 1,131 interception return yards, 53 interceptions, and 22 touchdowns. He is a Falcons' Ring of Honor member and a Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee.


1. Matt Ryan

Ryan was an icon for the Falcons franchise for 14 seasons. The team took him as the third overall pick in the 2008 draft, and he immediately made an impact after throwing a touchdown to Michael Jenkins in his first-ever NFL pass. The former Boston College standout won Offensive Rookie of the Year honors after finishing with 3,440 yards and 16 touchdowns.

His best year came in 2016 when he became the league’s Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year. He also led the Falcons to their second Super Bowl trip but collapsed against the New England Patriots. The same year, he became a First Team All-Pro and league leader in passer rating. Ryan also became a four-time Pro Bowler during his time with the Falcons.

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