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A Closer Look At No. 27


The Falcons are no stranger to the No. 27 overall pick in the NFL Draft. They've had it a few times before.

Back in 2005, the Falcons selected a young wide receiver with loads of potential. You know him as Roddy White. In 1995, Atlanta spent the 27th overall pick on Devin Bush, a safety out of Florida State.

Sitting in the No. 27 spot for next week's NFL Draft, the Falcons have a wide range of options to choose from when they officially go on the clock. Experts and media members have surmised that the Falcons are in need of a pass-rush defensive end, a wide receiver that can stretch the field, a strong tackle that may need to start right away or even a cornerback to give the secondary more options.

Of all those positions in the past 20 years at the No. 27 pick, a defensive end has never been selected. There have been four offensive tackles, three cornerbacks and three wide receivers taken at 27 since 1991, but not a single defensive end.

That doesn't mean that there isn't any talent at the position that late in the first round.

In 2008, defensive ends Lawrence Jackson, Kentwan Balmer and Phillip Merling were taken Nos. 28, 29 and 32, respectively. In 2006, defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka was the first pick of the New York Giants at No. 32 overall. The San Diego Chargers took Luis Castillo at No. 28 in 2005, and Kyle Vanden Bosch lasted a few picks into the second round in 2001, going at No. 34 to the Arizona Cardinals.

Of the wide receivers taken, there's White — who had a breakout 2010 season and is in great position to keep improving — there's Robert Meachem, a great weapon for Drew Brees in New Orleans, and Rae Carruth, who was drafted by Carolina in 1997 and played just two seasons. Strangely enough, all wide receivers taken at the No. 27 pick since 1991 have been selected by NFC South teams.

Since 1991, there have been a slew of offensive tackles taken with the No. 27 pick, but there hasn't been one picked in the slot since 1999, when the Detroit Lions selected Aaron Gibson out of Wisconsin. Prior to him, Victor Riley, John Michels and John Fina were all offensive tackles taken at the No. 27 position.

The schools with the most picks taken at No. 27 since 1991 are Tennessee (Meachem in 2007 and outside linebacker Todd Kelly in 1993) Wisconsin (Gibson and running back Michael Bennett in 2001) and Arizona (CB Antoine Cason in 2008 and Fina in 1992).

The key to picking this late in the Draft, however, is not only finding a player who is talented enough to make an impact and contend for a starting position right away but also identifying players who have the ability to play at that same level for a number of seasons.

The longevity at the No. 27 pick since 1991 goes all the way from one full season — Michels in 1996, who was hampered by knee injuries that ultimately forced him to retire a few years later without taking another snap in an NFL game — all the way to 11 seasons — Fina, who was drafted in 1992 and played and started 11 seasons, was a mainstay on the Buffalo Bills' offensive line through some of the organization's better years.

On average, in the past 20 years, players taken with the No. 27 selection have played about five-and-a-half NFL seasons — those numbers, admittedly, are skewed a bit since they figure in players who haven't yet retired. Devin McCourty, for example, has played just one season — because he was last year's selection at No. 27.

Figuring players who have retired since the 1991 NFL Draft, only two players played less than three seasons. Three of the 12 players who were drafted after 1991 and have retired played nine full seasons in the league. One spent eight years in the NFL, and Bush played seven.

Here's a look at all the No. 27 picks of the past 20 years:

### No. 27 Picks

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