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Fans everywhere want to know who the Falcons will pick at No. 8 overall. That's something the organization would also like to know. There's no sure thing the prospect they want most will be available in the eighth slot, so they have to adapt to what happens before them, which is essentially out of their control.
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That's why teams create draft clusters. What are they? A group of players a team would feel comfortable taking at a given spot. It might be massive. It might be super small, suggesting there are only a few guys they'd take before trying hard to trade out. There's no telling how many guys are in Terry Fontenot's draft cluster for the No. 8 overall pick, but there are some super talented options who could be available for the Falcons at that spot.
Here are some possibilities at No. 8, including players I'd feel comfortable taking right there You'll note that there's no quarterback in the group. I just think they're staying away from that spot in this draft. I also didn't include Will Anderson cause there's essentially zero shot the Alabama edge rusher will be there. I went back and forth on Jalen Carter, but ultimately left him out. Tough call there, but there are too many red flags for me .
Here are, however, some options I'd be ready to take at No. 8.
EDGE Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech
The big question here: Will Wilson be available to the Falcons at No. 8? Probably not. He's mocked in the top six in most every prediction. I think that's a fair assessment. But…if Wilson is on the board at No. 8, I decline all calls and make the easiest pick on the planet.
The Falcons need someone of Wilson's size and skill set off the edge. They also need someone with his drive and power, who can shut down the run and get after the passer. Now I'm not saying I'd trade up to get Wilson, but I would do cartwheels if he's somehow available to the Falcons at the eight spot.
CB Christian Gonzalez, Oregon
The dude looks like he was built in a lab. Gonzalez is ideally sized to be a shutdown outside cornerback, with length and speed necessary to make plays on the ball. He's the type of player you could envision lining up opposite A.J. Terrell to form one of the NFL's best coverage duos for years and years and years.
CB Devon Witherspoon, Illinois
The dude hits like a safety and plays like his hair's on fire. True story. Sure, the Falcons just added Jeff Okudah in trade, but the Ohio State man's essentially on a one-year deal. While the Falcons obviously hope Okudah realizes potential and hangs around for a long time, you can't bank on that. You also need more than two cornerbacks. Witherspoon could come in and play in the slot, bringing an edge to that position (or on the outside) that new coordinator Ryan Neilsen would love.
RB Bijan Robinson, Texas
I know what you're saying. No. 8's too high to take a running back. You're not getting good value. I understand all that and also choose to ignore it. Robinson is that good. And he would thrive working with an offensive mind like Arthur Smith, who would find new and innovative ways to use a talent who can run through you or around you, someone who can line up almost anywhere and make big plays. Imagine an offense with Robinson, Kyle Pitts, Drake London, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jonnu Smith and Tyler Allgeier, all working behind a stout (and well paid) offensive front. Goodness gracious.
It's possible the Falcons could trade down a bit and get Robinson plus additional assets, but I'd be comfortable taking him at No. 8.
OL Peter Skoronski, Northwestern**
Offensive line isn't a super sexy position group to take so high, especially on a team with two stout tackles and the odds high that he'd play inside as a rookie at the very lease. But the Falcons are committed to building a bully up front. They're also into sure things. Skoronski is as close to one as you can get in this draft, and would cement the Falcons line among the NFL's very best.
DL Lukas Van Ness, Iowa
The dude seems like an ideal scheme fit, a tenacious rusher who can play end and slide inside, if needed, when going to sub packages. Van Ness is a mauler, a guy who never stops applying pressure. He can get you a sack and set a proper edge, with talent to succeed on all three downs. You might be able to get him with a slight trade down, but you'd be pretty bummed if you trade down only to have Philly pick him up at 10.
As a bonus, here's a cluster I'd consider if I trade down into the 10-15 range: CB Joey Porter Jr., EDGE Nolan Smith, EDGE Myles Murphy, WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR Jordan Addison, DL Lukas Van Ness and RB Bijan Robinson