Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff is just fine with drafting in the second half of the first round.
After the Falcons went 13-3 and won the NFC South,
the team will pick 27th. The late pick will save owner Arthur Blank
some cash and has the franchise out of the high-rent district of the
It's a place where Dimitroff is accustomed to
living. He was New England's director of college scouting and played a
key role in their drafts from 2003 to 2007.
He was a national scout with New England in 2002.
He was named the Falcons' general manager on Jan. 13, 2008.
With the Falcons, Dimitroff entered the last three
drafts with the third, 24th and 19th picks in the first round. From
2003 to 2007, New England picked 13, 21, 32, 21 and 24.
Here's who the Patriots
2007 - 24th
overall - Brandon Meriweather, S, Miami.
2006 - 21st
Laurence Maroney, RB, Minnesota.
2005 - 32nd
- Logan Mankins, OG, Fresno State.
2004 - 21st
- Vince Wilfork, NT, Miami.
2003 - 13th
- Ty Warren, DE, Texas A&M.
Here's who the Falcons
2008 - 3rd
overall -- Matt Ryan, QB, Boston College
2009 - 24th
-- Peria Jerry, DT, Mississippi
2010 - 19th
- Sean Weatherspoon, LB, Missouri
There has been a lot of draft talk about teams
trading back up into the first round to pick-up one of the second-tier
quarterbacks. Texas Christian's Andy Dalton and Florida State's
Christian Ponder are targets of a few teams. If Ryan Mallett continues
to slip on the heels of his missed meetings in Charlotte, some team my
jump up to select him.
Also, if Washington's Jake Locker gets past
Seattle at 25, some team may covet the Falcons' pick to select him. But
those teams will need to call Dimitroff with a really sweet deal. He is
clutching that 27th pick pretty tight.
"There is no question that we'd contemplate that,
but with that said, you go into each draft thinking that you want to
get the players that you want," Dimitroff said. "There are going to be
a lot of players there in my mind at 27 that can still help us."
While most of the pre-draft focus is on what the
Falcons will do with the 27th pick in the first round, Dimitroff is
bracing for the full seven rounds and the ensuing period of signing
undrafted free agents, although the lockout will prevent undrafted
players from being signed.
"That's why we put so much time and effort into
combing all ends of the country in order to make sure we've done our
research and our evaluations at every level," Dimitroff said.
The Falcons have had some success in the later
draft rounds under Dimitroff. Kroy Biermann, a starter at left
defensive end last season, was a fifth-round pick in 2008. Defensive
tackle Vance Walker, a rotational player, was a seventh-round pick from
Georgia Tech in 2009. In the 2010 draft, safety Shann Schillinger, who
was a key contributor on special teams before fracturing his ankle in
the 15th game of the regular season, was drafted in the sixth round.
In the later rounds, the Falcons are looking for
potential late bloomers who can contribute early and possibly develop
While with New England, Dimitroff spent time
around the classic late pick, quarterback Tom Brady, who was selected
in the sixth round (199th overall) in 2000. His thoughts on emphasizing
the entire draft and the post-draft period are rooted in New England.
"We have to enter every draft of every year
assuming that we are going to find someone in the late rounds that is
truly going to affect the direction of this team," Dimitroff said.
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