This time last year, Falcons linebacker Prince Shembo was preparing for a dream come true, being drafted to play in the National Football League. He shined as an outside linebacker at Notre Dame, finishing his collegiate career ranked seventh in school history with 19.5-career sacks.
When the 2014 NFL Draft came, the Falcons selected Shembo in the fourth round (139th overall), using one of their three available compensatory picks. During his rookie campaign, Shembo was moved to inside linebacker, a position he hadn't played since his freshman year of high school. Entering year two, however, new Falcons head coach Dan Quinn has other plans for the talented linebacker.
"Right now, I see him working back outside," Quinn said. "That's also where I evaluated him coming out of college. I'm looking forward to working with him. There's going to be lots of position flexibility (because we're taking the approach of) 'let's keep trying, keep grinding, keep evaluating to find the very best guys to do it'."
The Falcons used their other compensatory picks last season on linebackers Yawin Smallwood and Tyler Starr, and as the annual NFL owners' meetings are underway in Phoenix (Mar. 22-25), the league is expected to soon announce the compensatory picks for this year's draft.
The Falcons' 2016 roster is constantly evolving and we've amassed all the players in one gallery that will be updated throughout the year
The additional draft choices are granted to teams deemed to have lost more or better compensatory free agents than they added in the previous year. Compensatory free agents are determined by the NFL Management Council, using a formula based on salary, playing time and postseason honors, however, not every free agent lost or signed by a club is covered by the formula.
Regardless if the Falcons receive any compensatory picks this year or not, the club is approaching the upcoming 2015 NFL Draft with Quinn teaming with general manager Thomas Dimitroff and assistant general manager Scott Pioli, who assumed pro and college scouting and NFL Draft responsibilities in January.
Below is a look at the team's compensatory draft picks since 2008.
Prince Shembo - Fourth-round pick (139th overall)
Yawin Smallwood - Seventh-round pick (253rd overall)
Tyler Starr - Seventh-round pick (255th overall)
Levine Toilolo - Fourth-round pick (133rd overall)
Kemal Ishmael - Seventh-round pick (243rd overall)
Zeke Motta - Seventh-round pick (244th overall)
Sean Renfree - Seventh-round pick (249th overall)
Travian Robertson - Seventh-round pick (249th overall)
Mike Johnson - Third-round pick (98th overall)
Kerry Meier - Fifth-round pick (165th overall)
Thomas Decoud - Third-round pick (98th overall)