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How the Falcons decided on Justin Shaffer in 2022 NFL Draft

How the Falcons decided on Justin Shaffer in 2022 NFL Draft

After winning the national championship this January, the University of Georgia saw 15 Bulldogs drafted throughout the 2022 Draft, breaking the school record from the year before. Eight of the 15 were defensive players. Most notable, though, was the fact that five of those defenders were taken in the first round, a feat no other college team has accomplished in the history of the draft.

All of this to say this: On any given day (outside of a Saturday game day, of course) it was Shaffer lining up opposite that of Travon Walker, Jordan Davis, Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt, just to name a few.

“When you think about Justin, you think about what he went against every day at practice,” Ledford said. “And not just in practice, but in the weight room, too, and all the competitive things that you would go through in a program. He’s doing it side-by-side all those guys, competing with them.”

For those who saw Shaffer on that Georgia line the last two years, chances are you also saw the jump he made in his play from his junior year to his senior year. It’s a jump that caught the attention of scouts in the area. Falcons area scout Shepley Heard was one them.

Having made 27 starts over the course of the last two seasons (26 of 27 at left guard), Heard said Shaffer’s jump came because of that accumulation of reps.

“He made a significant jump (in 2021). There’s no doubt,” Heard said. “It was just that experience. He was a first-year starter last year. You had (Jamaree) Salyer next to him and it’s almost like there was a comfort level there when you have that guy next to you. Those guys worked really well with each other.”

Heard also brought it back to something Ledford pointed out, too: That it also helps when “you’re going up against NFL talent every day.”

Ultimately, though, when it came down to the pick itself, the Falcons weren’t looking at those around Shaffer. They were looking at Shaffer himself, and that’s because they saw something in him that fit what they were looking for.

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