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The Falcons are not drafting Todd Gurley with the 8th pick

Thanks to a well-timed mock draft, there are some who think otherwise.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Charles Davis dropped an unusual mock draft the other day, and it was unusual chiefly because he didn't mock a pass rusher or offensive lineman to Atlanta with the eighth overall pick. He mocked Todd Gurley there.

This is a problematic pick for any number of reasons, and I was going to just ignore the mock because of how implausible the scenario is. But then the questions started rolling in, and people started taking this mock very seriously, and suddenly there's a fair number of fans who think Gurley at #8 is a realistic possibility. It is not.

Why are people so intrigued by this idea? Four reasons, as I see it:

  1. Many readers and Falcons fans are also Georgia fans;
  2. Gurley is clearly the most talented back in this draft class, when healthy;
  3. The Falcons haven't had a quality running game since Michael Turner was in his prime, and view a good running game as the key to making the offense more dynamic ;
  4. If the team doesn't take a pass rusher, their direction is (for now, at least) opaque.
All of this can lead you to believe that Gurley, with his obvious talent, could well be a pick at #8. That ignores his injury, of course. It also ignores the fact that the last running back to be drafted in the top ten was Trent Richardson, a supposed can't-miss back who could miss and has. Teams don't value running backs in the same way they used to, and using the #8 pick on one when you have holes at left guard, LEO, linebacker, safety and cornerback reeks of ignoring greater needs, particularly when this class is so top heavy with legitimately great pass rushing prospects.

This isn't a knock on Gurley, by the way. It's entirely possible that he's one of those great backs that would be worth the selection, and there's little question a healthy Gurley is the best runner on the Falcons roster in 2015 by a fairly wide margin. But this is a team trying to build a deep roster and an attacking defense, and a team that genuinely likes Devonta Freeman. An RB at #8 doesn't fit with that philosophy, and given the very real trend away from drafting running backs early, I can't see the Falcons indulging in Gurley.

I'm not saying the Falcons will shy away from drafting a back, because I fully expect them to grab one sometime after the second round. I am saying that drafting Gurley at #8 is the kind of move a team makes when it feels completely confident in the rest of its roster and needs that one piece, and this team is clearly not in that chair.