This year, there simply haven't been a lot of strong, confident predictions based on tangible information for who the Falcons will select at #17, and we're unlikely to get one before tomorrow. In that vacuum, we'll take any reliable intelligence we can get, and this report from Draft Insider's Tony Pauline certainly qualifies.
may the sadness begin pic.twitter.com/9HQfpLrERH— hornets fan account (@SundayFiasco) April 27, 2016
I'm an unabashed Shaq Lawson fan, and think he'll be both a useful pass rusher and a terrific complement to Vic Beasley over the long haul, so I'm on board with that. I'm less sold on Kevin Dodd, who I worry isn't going to be an immediate impact player, and I love Neal but would tend to think #17 is a stretch for him, so I'd welcome a trade down. What's most interesting about this report, of course, is that the Falcons haven't been commonly linked to any of these three at #17 in at least a month.
Why does this matter? Because Pauline is pretty plugged-in, even if he's not necessarily right all the time, and the at this point we've been treated to mocks that mostly feature Reggie Ragland, Darron Lee, or (rarely) Myles Jack, so it's good to get a fuller understanding of the candidates Atlanta might be considering. It's also worth noting that Keanu Neal, whose draft stock appears to be all over the place depending on who you read, was invited to the draft and Dan Quinn seems to truly love him, so fire and smoke and all that.
The reality is that Lawson, Dodd, Neal, Ragland, Lee, and a handful of others are all potential options at #17 and even possibly if the Falcons swap down, so this doesn't clarify much. It just gives us a sense of direction, and the bit about Neal is particularly important to keep in mind if the Falcons make a trade.