TD Takeaways

TD Takeaways

Jay Adams

Published April 19, 2012 at 4:16 PM

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff held his pre-draft press conference Thursday afternoon in front of a slew of Atlanta media members to field all sorts of questions pertaining to the 2012 NFL Draft, which starts next week, and the Falcons’ approach to the offseason.

We’ll have complete video of the press conference available tonight on AtlantaFalcons.com, but until then, here are three things that struck me in listening to Dimitroff’s plans, philosophy and approach to next week.

Don’t sleep on the trade
The Falcons made huge waves last year in trading up from No. 27 to No. 6 to snag Julio Jones, giving up a handful of picks — including this year’s first- and fourth-rounders — to make the jump. Of course, that limits what Dimitroff can do in this year’s draft, but don’t think for a minute that he’s tossed trade scenarios out the window: “Far be it for us to move around in the draft,” Dimitroff said, tongue planted firmly in cheek, “however, that said, if opportunities present themselves for us to move forward or back, we’d consider it. I do believe we are in a spot right now with our roster that if we feel that, if in fact we remain at (pick No. 55 overall), we believe that we will definitely acquire a player that’s going to be very beneficial to our roster and building this team. We feel confident that there are going to be a lot of good players around 55, as well as 84 (third round) and moving into 157 (fifth round).” Later in his press conference, he added: “We have dialed in on certain players at a number of positions that we would consider moving up for, if, in fact, it presented itself.”

Offensive line is a focus
Dimitroff said that, at this point, he’s got his second-round selection pegged down to just a couple of positions. He wouldn’t expound on that, and rightfully so, with the draft so close, but whatever position he and the front office ultimately decide to go with on that first selection, the offensive line will be somewhere in the back of Dimitroff’s mind throughout the three days of the draft. He explains: “Offensive lines, as a group historically, you’re going to have years where you’re up and, honestly, you can have years that are down and challenging. We, obviously, last year had a challenging year, even though we were sixth in sacks given up. We had some challenges along our offensive line. We feel we have a good core of offensive linemen. There’s no question that we can continue to build our depth along our offensive line. I feel we have some smart guys, I feel we have some tough guys and we feel we have some adept guys as per skills on the field, whether it’s run blocking or pass blocking. We all know how important it is to protect Deuce (Matt Ryan)… We will always consider the possibilities of fortifying that offensive line, and that’s obviously something that we need to be very mindful of if we want to continue to take this to the next level.”

He’s been walking the talk
The sentiment among some fans has been that the Falcons haven’t done enough during the offseason to ensure that they’ll take a step forward when the season kicks off in September. Dimitroff’s stance and rhetoric, however, has always been that a tweak here and there could make all the difference. The Falcons, since the end of the season, have made significant moves in ensuring that talent that was drafted here stays here, and while the movement may not be the influx of outside talent some fans were looking for, it ensures continuity at positions and building on a foundation that has been solid to begin with. Adding to the confidence in what’s already here has been the perspective new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and new defensive coordinator Mike Nolan have brought to the meeting rooms, as they have noticed promise and potential in players that are already on the roster: “We do have a very sound foundation here. We didn’t talk about radically changing this roster. We feel we have a very good foundation, but that doesn’t mean we can’t improve in certain areas. Having listened to the coordinators talk about their respective sides of the ball, we realize there are certain positions here that we can go in and really focus on in the draft and one or two here or there where we truly believe that — after all is said and done, we look at it and talk to the coordinators again — they will say this offensive or defensive team is where we want this to be. We feel like we can break through to the next stage.”

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