FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Today's Early Bird Report includes a lighter feel to the Falcons' 2018 offseason as well as the teams that improved the most during the draft.
FALCONS HEADLINES FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY
*AJC: *Falcons look good after fixes, 'emotionally lighter' offseason
The Falcons took a number of steps to address their needs during the NFL Draft, adding new pieces to their offense, defense and special teams. The first-round selection of Calvin Ridley could help the offense become more explosive, while the addition of Deadrin Senat fills a spot in the defensive tackle rotation.
Jeff Schultz of *The Atlanta Journal-Constitution *believes the Falcons look better at this point than they did last offseason, but they also seem a bit more relaxed. Falcons head coach Dan Quinn spoke to that point and how this offseason has differed from the last.
"It's emotionally lighter," Quinn said, according to Schultz. "Members of the media and others were talking about the difficult ending to '16, which was emotionally hard. How could it not be? But I would also say this offseason has been different than last offseason. I saw this group work out for the first time this week (in the voluntary offseason workout program). I was extremely impressed."
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BIGGEST NEWS FROM AROUND THE NFL
NFL.com: Teams that improved the most at the 2018 NFL Draft
Each year, the NFL Draft presents the opportunity for 32 teams to seriously improve their roster in hopes of chasing the Lombardi Trophy. With the 2018 NFL Draft in the books, NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal shared the teams he believes improved the most over the weekend.
Among the teams Rosenthal mentions are the New York Giants, Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears and the Atlanta Falcons. Rosenthal had a lot of praise for the Falcons' draft and the impact it could have on the team's title hopes moving forward.
"The Falcons' Super Bowl window is so wide open that it aches," Rosenthal writes. "They transformed their identity in 2017, but the well-balanced roster still had a chance to win a title, evidenced by Atlanta's first-and-win situation late in the home stadium of the eventual champion Eagles in a Divisional Round playoff game. GM Thomas Dimitroff has to balance the urge to go for it now with his usual long-term vision, and this draft showed off why he's one of the best.
"Taking receiver Calvin Ridley in the first round (No. 26 overall) caught a lot of Falcons fans by surprise. I love the pick because Mohamed Sanu, for all his role-player greatness, hasn't topped 705 yards in either of his two seasons in Atlanta thus far. The last time the Falcons drafted a quality wide receiver was when Dimitroff staked his career on the move up for Julio Jones in 2011. After years of striking out with mid-round picks at wideout, Ridley provides a perfect complement to Jones, offering a new dimension to Atlanta's loaded offense. Colorado cornerback Isaiah Oliver, the team's second-round pick (No. 58), could help complete one of the better cornerback trios in football. Dimitroff's mid-round picks continued the organizational theme of speed and testing through the roof that has given the organization an identity. The NFC is loaded, but don't forget about the Falcons as one of the favorites for the Super Bowl."
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