A Recent History of the 8th Overall Pick in the NFL Draft
As the NFL Draft quickly approaches, the Atlanta Falcons are currently poised to start their draft with the 8th overall pick. This will be the fifth time in the last 19 years that the Falcons have this pick and the second year in a row.
Although it’s impossible to predict who the Falcons will take right now, let's take a look at the recent history of the players chosen with lucky number 8.
2022: Atlanta Falcons select Drake London, Wide Receiver, USC
As previously mentioned above, the Falcons will be making the 8th overall pick for the second year in a row. Last year, the team selected London out of USC, and he paid immediate dividends for Atlanta. In a roller coaster offense helmed by Marcus Mariota for the majority of the season, London was still able to produce over 850 yards, four touchdowns, and set a team rookie reception record with his 72 catches.
Atlanta will look to utilize London alongside recent pickup Mack Hollins, returning tight end Kyle Pitts, and new starting quarterback Desmond Ridder in a young but potentially dangerous offense this upcoming season.
2021: Carolina Panthers select Jaycee Horn, Cornerback, South Carolina
The 8th pick sticks within the NFC South as Carolina selected Jaycee Horn in an attempt to shore up their secondary. The young cornerback looked strong in his rookie season before breaking his foot and being put on the injured reserve list.
Horn came back in 2022 to start 13 games and recorded 53 tackles and 3 interceptions. As the Panthers attempt to rebuild under whichever quarterback they draft this year, they’ll hope that Horn can continue to develop and provide a defensive building block for their team.
2020: Arizona Cardinals select Isaiah Simmons, Linebacker, Clemson
Year three is typically when teams recognize if players are long-term assets or not, and Simmons is an interesting case study. The linebacker started seven games during his rookie season, and struggled in his second year, but made 13 starts last season and recorded almost 100 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles.
As the Cardinals begin making changes to their roster under new coach Jonathan Gannon, it’ll be interesting to see how they utilize Simmons in year four.
2019: Detroit Lions select T.J. Hockenson, Tight End, Iowa
Taking a tight end early in the draft is always an interesting approach to team building. The Lions' selection of Hockenson in the 2019 NFL Draft further proved that point as he lasted less than four seasons in Detroit before being traded away to the Minnesota Vikings.
Hockenson had over 500 yards and 3 touchdowns after landing in Minnesota, but the Lions likely regret this decision after seeing players like Brian Burns, Deebo Samuel, and AJ Brown come off the board later in the draft.
2018: Chicago Bears select Roquan Smith, Linebacker, University of Georgia
With over 690 career tackles, 18.5 sacks, 8 interceptions, and 76 starts in his career, Roquan Smith is one of the dominant defensive players in the league. The only conundrum for Chicago is the fact that Smith no longer plays for the Bears as he was traded to the Baltimore Ravens last season.
Smith was loud about his desire for a new contract from Chicago, and when he didn’t get it, he requested a trade from the team. He eventually got his wish, signed a huge contract with the Ravens, and will hope to continue his standout career in Baltimore over the next five years.