FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said in his season-ending press conference that the No. 1 priority of the offseason would be getting a new contract done for quarterback Matt Ryan.
And while this still remains to be the case, Dimitroff's attention will turn to the NFL Scouting Combine next week as he and his staff continue to evaluate this year's draft prospects.
Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn believe they are continuing to build their roster with "no real holes" but that doesn't mean they aren't constantly looking for ways to continue to improve.
One of the areas Dimitroff and Quinn emphasize and look at every year is the play on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
Everything starts in the trenches for the Falcons and Dimitroff believes that's the strength of this year's draft class across the board.
"I think they will be a really interesting group along the offensive line," Dimitroff said. "We say that every year. We want to see the offensive line be a good full group as well as the defensive line. I think both of those areas are rich with talent. Not only early talent, I'm talking mid-round talent, so that's good."
As Dimitroff and Quinn evaluate the tape of the offensive and defensive linemen in this year's draft class, they are looking for prospects who can run.
"There's no question that we are based off athleticism in a lot of different ways," Dimitroff said. "Even our offensive and defensive lines need to be light on their feet, they need to be able to move. We run an outside zone scheme on the offense, we are a penetrating defense. We know how important it is for our guys to be able to move around."
Since Quinn arrived, he's been adamant on working with Dimitroff to acquire a team full of fast, physical and athletic players based on the schemes he wants to run.
It's not just the skill positions that Quinn wants speed at, he wants it at every position.
"Not only do we need to matchup in the athletic positions but we really need to hone in matching up in the trenches," Dimitroff said. "We need to be able to mirror people as blockers, we need to be able to come off the ball and position ourselves well to make sure it does break our run game open."
With the stability the Falcons have in place with Ryan at quarterback, Dimitroff is dedicated to continuing to build the best offensive line around him.
So as the Dimitroff gears up for the Combine, free agency and draft this year, strengthening the offensive line remains at the top of Dimitroff's mind.
"We realize more and more [as we are] about ready to sign Matt Ryan in the relatively near future to another contract, we need to make sure offensively in the trenches we are protecting a guy like Matt Ryan and help create that offense that we want to return to being prolific," Dimitroff said.