1. Pass Rush is Tops: Falcons head coach Dan Quinn has a history for getting to the quarterback and influencing him. The Seahawks defense he ran for two years may not have been atop the league in sacks, but the unit was always in the backfield, forcing quarterbacks to make quick decisions. While Quinn is in Indianapolis to evaluate the college talent available in the NFL Draft, he's been hard at work breaking down the current roster to see who can help in the pass-rush category in the near future.
"You guys know me in terms of affecting the quarterback," Quinn said Thursday. "It's one of the things that's near and dear to me. There's a number of guys on that I cannot wait to work with that's already on the roster and continue to develop and push those guys."
Quinn wouldn't name any players specifically, but he's set about to determine what players on the roster can do well — one of his key assessment filters — so that he can put them in the best position to succeed.
2. Quinn, Dimitroff Growing Close: Quinn said during his introductory press conference earlier this month that one of the key reasons he came to Atlanta is the relationship he felt he could build with general manager Thomas Dimitroff. As the two have begun to set about building the 2015 Falcons, Quinn has been pleased with just how well they're collaborating on the evaluation process.
Quinn equates it to what he witnessed between Seattle head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider.
"I saw how closely connected that John and Pete, so I thought if I had the opportunity, I wanted to make sure I could have a partnership with a guy that I just wanted to align with," Quinn said. "When Thomas and I first met, it was one of those times where you instantly connect with somebody and you know, 'OK, this would work. This is what I'm looking for.' Now that we've started over the last few weeks, we've been in lockstep together."
3. Freeman Flashes on Film: Quinn didn't discuss too many specifics about players on the Falcons roster, with the exception of running back Devonta Freeman. The former Florida State product seems to be a perfect fit for what Quinn and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan want to do on offense.
"My first impression of him, I can feel the quickness. In our outside zone scheme, I thought, 'This is tailor-made for a guy who can really explode off the edge,' " Quinn said. "I've loved this guy's competitive spirit. I remember all the way back from him coming out of Florida State, the mindset, the attitude that he brings. High hopes for him and I can't wait to get started with him."
4. Style Over Scheme: The defense that Quinn will install will start with a foundation of what he did in Seattle, but it'll continue to grow and mold itself into its own entity as he and Dimitroff continue evaluating positions. For Quinn, "what" isn't as important as "how."
"That's what the process is right now, to get to learn these guys as well as we can to put them in the spots," Quinn said. "It's not really what we play, but how we play it — the attitude, the style, so that's one of the things I can't wait to connect with these guys on."
5. Being Like Mike: Seattle defensive lineman Michael Bennett has impressed since he joined the Seahawks in 2013 and Quinn loves that kind of versatility in a member of his defense. He's looking for players who can be like Bennett in that they're just as good at defensive end as they are at defensive tackle and defensive tackles who can be effective at nose.
"That kind of versatility is really valuable," Quinn said. "We're going to push that in every way we can. There's going to be corners who can play nickel, there's going to be safeties — can they go down and play outside (linebacker)? All the guys, we're going to try to find out what versatility they have and let's try to feature them in every way we can."
When referencing the upcoming NFL Draft, Quinn puts Florida product Dante Fowler Jr. in the category of the versatility he's looking for. Folwer and Quinn have a past together when Quinn was Florida's defensive coordinator before going to Seattle, so Quinn has a strong read already on the pass-rusher.