Atlanta Falcons take Darren Hall with 108th pick in 2021 NFL Draft


File photo

San Diego State football then-sophomore cornerback Darren Hall returns a fumble for a touchdown during the Aztecs’ 48-11 victory over Central Michigan on Dec. 21, 2019 at Dreamstyle Stadium in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

by Kyle Betz, Sports Editor

After 134 career tackles, six interceptions and three forced fumbles in four years with San Diego State football, junior Darren Hall is NFL bound.

The 6-foot, 190-pound cornerback was selected by the Atlanta Falcons with the third overall pick in Round 4 of the 2021 NFL Draft (108th overall). Originally a safety, Hall converted to cornerback after redshirting but is versatile enough to play either spot.

Hall adds to a growing list of Aztec defensive backs who have been drafted the past decade.

Notables include cornerback Leon McFadden (Round 3 to the Cleveland Browns in 2013),  safety Nat Berhe (Round 5 to the New York Giants in 2014), safety Eric Pinkins (Round 6 to the Seattle Seahawks in 2014) and safety Damontae Kazee, who played for the Falcons for four years prior to signing with the Dallas Cowboys in free agency this offseason.

Hall has a couple similarities to Kazee: ballhawk traits and the same number at SDSU (23). In an interview with The Daily Aztec in 2018, Hall said he was trying to beat Kazee’s school interception tally (17).

“I’m trying to catch (Kazee) for his record,” Hall said.

The Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. native didn’t quite get there, but his measurables, Pro Day performance and 4.41 40-yard dash speed (according to Hall) made him stand out as a top defensive back prospect.

His play spoke for itself, too. Out of 44 targets, 57% resulted in completions against Hall in 2020. Hall also broke up four passes while adding 37 tackles (two for a loss).

Hall joins a young Atlanta Falcons secondary led by corner A.J. Terrell, who was the Falcons’ 2020 first-round selection from Clemson.

The Falcons had significant interest in Hall during the pre-draft process, meeting with him twice. Family ties could be another factor in Hall’s new home. Jon Hoke, the older brother of SDSU head coach Brady Hoke, coaches defensive backs for the Falcons. Jon Hoke’s son, Kyle, also coaches safeties for the Aztecs.

Hall was the first player selected from the Mountain West Conference in the draft. Just a couple hours after his selection, the Falcons added another MWC defender: Boise State senior cornerback Avery Williams with the 39th pick of Round 5 (183 overall).