FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – Calvin Ridley was considered by many draft experts to be the top wide receiver in the NFL Draft, and the Falcons were more than happy to take him with the No. 26 pick on Thursday night.
This year’s draft involved a good number of trades, which made it a bit more difficult to track what could potentially happen next. Falcons general manger Thomas Dimitroff said the team kept an eye on Ridley as the night unfolded, however, and that diligence meant they weren’t caught by surprise when he was available late in the first round.
“No, not surprised,” Dimitroff said. “Honestly, as we were tracking what was going on in the early 20’s of the draft and the players that were going, we knew if there was going to be a run on interior [offensive] linemen that there would potentially be a good opportunity to pop a guy like Ridley in that situation, no question about it. No, we weren’t surprised; we were incredibly encouraged that he was there as he was getting closer and closer.”
Many believed the Falcons would opt to select a defensive tackle with their first pick in the draft, but they opted to go offense in the first round for the first time under head coach Dan Quinn. The Falcons have said on multiple occasions that they believe this is a deep class at a number of positions, and they believe there are still quality players available for them in the coming rounds.
With that in mind, Atlanta pulled the trigger on a dynamic receiver in the first round and they didn’t give away any other picks in the process. “In the end, we decided that we were going to go offense,” Dimitroff said. “We kept all of our picks, which is an interesting and good thing, of course. Again, we’re encouraged by what’s there in the future to get the positions that we are in need of.”