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Atlanta Falcons draft linebacker Vic Beasley

The Atlanta Falcons have selected outside linebacker Vic Beasley with the eighth overall pick.

Boasting an ideal combination of production and measurables, Beasley is a potential game-changer who should contribute early as a designated pass rusher.

Interestingly, Beasley could have declared for the draft a year ago and been a top-50 pick. Instead, he smartly banked on himself and turned in another great season for arguably the best defense in the nation.

The two-time All-American finished his four-year career at Clemson with astounding numbers. The Tigers’ career-leader in sacks (33) also recorded 52.5 tackles for loss, 29 pressures, 11 pass breakups, seven interceptions and two touchdowns in 48 games (25 starts). Based simply on his production, Beasley already has a case to be the best edge player in this draft.

What made Beasley an even more impressive prospect was his historic combine performance. He got off to a great start by measuring in at a rocked-up 6-foot-3 and 246 pounds before turning heads with a 4.53 40-yard dash, 41″ vertical, 6.91-second three-cone and a position-best 35 reps on the bench.

Beasley’s overall combination of athleticism, production and football character made him a clean prospect. The biggest concern is his position fit, as some see him as too small to put his hand in the dirt in a 4-3 scheme. However, he’s simply too dangerous on passing downs to keep on the bench early in his career. If he proves capable of setting the edge, there’s no reason to think Beasley can’t become a full-time starter by his second season.

Bottom Line: The Falcons landed one of the best defensive players in the draft in Beasley. His first-step quickness and overall explosive athleticism makes him a terror for tackles to block. Even if he plays limited snaps as a rookie, he should be a productive pass rusher early before developing into a full-time starter within the next year or two.

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