The Falcons added two rookies to the fold on Friday and completed their first trade of the 2016 draft. Here's what we learned:
1. Speed is still a top priority. All three prospects taken so far have good wheels. Deion Jones' speed is so impressive that LSU coach Les Miles said he "may be the fastest linebacker that I personally have been around that had any size to him at all." As far as Hooper is concerned, scouts believe the tight end accelerates well and can use his agility to break free of opponents over the middle.
"For us, fortunately, (Jones) was one of the rare guys who played at a really faster speed," said Quinn. "You felt it, you saw it, you see it in the close when he's playing zone; you saw it when he was playing man-to-man."
2. Needs are being addressed. Atlanta's pair of Day 2 selections filled several key positions. Jones fits Quinn's defensive scheme and, as he showed at LSU, can be a big help on special teams. Hooper is more of a project. But with Jacob Tamme signed for 2016, the Stanford product will have time to develop before being thrust into a starting role long-term.
"Dan continues to drive this home," Dimitroff said. "It's amazing how we continue to press each other on maintaining what Dan wants to have with this team as far as the players. There are some good football players out there who may not possess that competitiveness and toughness we're looking for."
The Atlanta Falcons selected TE Austin Hooper from Stanford University with the 81st pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
- That being said, Hooper should contribute right away as a blocker.** Quinn, Dimitroff and tight ends coach Wade Harman worked out the young tight end in Palo Alto, Ca., and that visit showed them he has what it takes to pass block and help in the run game.
"We know that's a good part of his game," Quinn said.
4. The red zone offense just got better. The Falcons know their red zone offense wasn't up to par last year, and by adding Hooper, they've take a big step toward fixing that problem. A consistent pass-catcher who does a good job maneuvering through traffic, he has the makeup to become a reliable target for Matt Ryan inside the 20s.
"It was very important for us," Dimitroff said about Hooper's value in the red zone. "We had our struggles there at times. This kid has huge hands; he's got an ability to be aggressive down in the red zone. He's going to be a really nice element to mix in with what we have there."
5. As expected, the Falcons weren't afraid to shake things up. Dimitroff had been making calls to other executives about a potential trade, and when the 50th pick approached, Texans GM Rick Smith contacted the Falcons about moving up to snag center Nick Martin. Dimitroff and Smith eventually agreed on deal that sent the No. 50 selection to Houston in exchange for No. 52 overall and a sixth-rounder, No. 195 overall.
By pulling this off, Dimitroff was able to add a sixth pick, still get the second-rounder he wanted (Jones) and make it easier to pull off another trade.
"We feel like we were in the right place with it," said Dimitroff about the Atlanta/Houston swap. "We ended up pulling away the players we needed. … It was good for us, because we were devoid of a sixth round pick, and it's nice to have a sixth and a seventh (to) potentially package those or use them. That always is helpful. We're in the middle of the fourth tomorrow; who knows how creative we can be with that extra pick."