When looking back on the Atlanta Falcons draft history there are a lot of hits and misses but only once has the franchise missed twice on drafting the greatest athlete of all time.
Not only did the Atlanta Falcons miss out on Bo Jackson in 1986, but they also missed out a second time in 1987. While fans will point to Bo’s career-ending hip injury as a great reason to have missed out on him and even though his career was short, it was nothing short of spectacular.
In 1986, the Atlanta Falcons had the second overall pick in the NFL draft and would select defensive tackle Tony Casillas out of Oklahoma after the Bucs took Bo Jackson out of Auburn.
However, the Falcons had every opportunity to make a trade with the Bucs after Jackson let them know that he would never sign with them after owner Hugh Culverhouse cost Jackson his NCAA baseball eligibility.
The Atlanta Falcons should have swooped in and made an offer
After Bo Jackson made the public declaration the Atlanta Falcons had the opportunity to trade up just one spot to select one of the best college running backs to back up Gerald Riggs, who would leave the franchise just two seasons later.
As promised, he never signed with the Bucs and ended up back in the draft a year later.
With Bo Jackson back on the draft board in 1987, the Atlanta Falcons spent four of their five picks on offense including quarterback Chris Miller and running back Kenny Flowers with their first two selections.
Flowers spent just two seasons with the Falcons before he was out of the NFL. He had a total of 27 carries during his Atlanta Falcons/NFL career and rushed for fewer than 100 yards – to think that Bo Jackson would not have been a better draft pick than Flowers is comical.
Bo Jackson lasted until the seventh round and the 183rd overall pick in the 87th draft.
Obviously, the hip issues would not have changed for Bo had he been in Atlanta, but he would have played one more season in the NFL before his hip replacement surgery in 1992. Given Atlanta has not had a lot of success with running backs, Bo would have gone down among the best to ever play for the Falcons at that position.