Falcons Focused on the Draft

INDIANAPOLIS-A year after drafting Matt Ryan, Sam Baker and Curtis Lofton, who will serve as building blocks on both sides of the ball, Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff is back at the Combine to get an up close look at the next group of players he hopes will continue the process of turning the Falcons into a perennial contender.

"We are very focused on the draft," Dimitroff said on Friday. "Last year, it was no surprise, we spent a lot of time and a lot of money in the draft and free agency on our offense. Obviously, we'll be focusing on both sides of the ball with an emphasis on defense, as well."

Dimitroff dismissed the possibility that the Falcons would throw "double-digit millions in guaranteed money" at a free agent defensive tackle, preferring instead to use the draft to address that position.

"Defensive tackle, if you find one and think that you can take him, put him a rotation and have him step up game in and game out. One that has that fiery approach to the game, I think that's a big thing.

Again, I think there are some fine football players in the draft that you can continue to develop. Ray Hamilton, in my mind, is a top defensive line coach. I think he gets the most out of those guys. Let's let him coach football. Let him coach the young players. That's my position."

Dimitroff likes where they Falcons are positioned in the draft (the Falcons have the 24th pick in the 1st round), and two defensive tackles expected to go in the first two rounds whom the Falcons may be targeting are Mississippi's Peria Jerry and Auburn's Sen'Derrick Marks. Atlanta has also met with Corvey Irvin, a defensive tackle from Georgia who has been projected as a fourth or fifth round prospect.

In addition to the defensive line, Dimitroff and his staff will also be focused on using the draft to improve the Falcons' secondary, including finding a "tough hombre" for the strong safety position.

"The guy that is going to step up there and fill the hole, real strong. A 220-pound-plus guy. Now, ideally we'd like to get to a situation where you have interchangeable safeties. Maybe one guy is the strong safety, but you can flip it."

Dimitroff ideally wants safeties like Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed, who can cover and stop the run, but acknowledged that players like that aren't easy to find.

Defensive linemen will hold their Combine workouts on Monday, with the defensive backs closing out the Combine on Tuesday.

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