Teams that built through the draft really built through the draft. That means they find starters and solid depth throughout the draft instead of landing a starter with their first round pick and using the rest of the draft selections to round out the roster with players that won't last longer than a season or two.
Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said last week that he felt the depth of this draft was its strength, giving him the ability to land future starters and difference-makers in later rounds as well as the first. With 11 picks in this year's draft, Dimitroff has the stockpile to make a move up or down in many of the rounds.
"We're going to be active and active can be up, down or around, but we're definitely looking to continue to bolster this roster," Dimitroff said. "We believe there are still places on the roster that we can continue to build up in order to help us achieve that ultimate goal that we want here."
Dimitroff's got the track record of delivering roster-bolstering draft picks. Since his first season in Atlanta in 2008, He's drafted 32 players in the second round or later and they've gone on to compete in 905 games. Of the 38 players he's drafted in all rounds since '08, 13 of them are projected to be starters in 2013.
But it's the middle rounds where Dimitroff sets himself apart. He found starting G/C Peter Konz (2012) and Pro Bowl safety William Moore (2009) in the second rounds and he's continued to draft well in later rounds, finding key players and special teams stalwarts.
He's landed three starters in the third round rounds in Akeem Dent (2011), Corey Peters (2010) and Thomas DeCoud (2008). In Harry Douglas (2008) he found a core player in the third round that is the Falcons slot receiver, often considered a starting position. Two of his third-round picks, Lamar Holmes (2012) and Mike Johnson (2010) are expected to compete for the open right tackle job in training camp this year.
In the fourth round in 2010, Dimitroff selected Joe Hawley, a backup guard and center who has started 12 games for the Falcons. In the fifth round, Dimitroff has found difference makers like Jacquizz Rodgers (2011), starting guard Garrett Reynolds (2009) and Kroy Biermann (2008).
Dimitroff found punter Matt Bosher (2011) in the sixth round and he's become a solid contributor on special teams. Defensive linemen Travian Robertson (2012) and Cliff Matthews (2011) are expected to step into larger roles in 2013 and they were both drafted in the seventh round out of South Carolina.
It's also important to point out that Dimitroff is using team resources to re-sign many of these middle-round draft picks. Douglas, Biermann and DeCoud returned to the team last season, signing new deals after their rookie contracts expired. Moore and Reynolds were re-signed by the Falcons during this offseason.
Since 2008, only nine of Atlanta's 38 picks have not seen action on the field during the regular season.