Over the last few months, we've been tracking mock drafts across the Web to see what analysts believe the Falcons will do at No. 17. While these forecasts are made with careful consideration, it's important to remember one surprising move can throw the entire first round in an unexpected direction.
For evidence, look no further than last year's draft, when Vic Beasley, Jr.'s stock rose so much that most experts thought he wouldn't reach Atlanta at eighth overall. !
Analysis: Of the 10 writers polled last April, three had Beasley going to the Falcons in their second-to-last mocks, but only one—CBSSports.com's Pat Kirwan—had the Clemson pass-rusher ending up with Atlanta.
How were the Falcons able to land their coveted prospect? Few expected Scherff to go in the top five, but Washington, a team many expected to target Beasley, went with the offensive lineman at fifth overall. Jacksonville tabbed Fowler over Beasley at No. 3, and Oakland, never one to shy away from high-end skill position players, chose Amari Cooper with the fourth selection.
This chain of events worked out well for the Falcons. Beasley showed flashes of brilliance in 2015 and, according to a re-draft by NFL.com's Chad Reuter, Atlanta made the right choice at No. 8.
Interestingly enough, there's another ex-Clemson pass-rusher available who many believe will be scooped up before Atlanta's pick: Shaq Lawson. Maybe a familiar storyline will unfold again later this month in Chicago.