Jay Adams: First of all, what are your thoughts on the hiring of Dan Quinn and what that changes for the Falcons?
Ian Rapoport: There's two parts of Dan Quinn. There is the on-the-field part — I know he's going to run the team, he's the leader and all that. As a leader, guys really listen to him. Just talking to the Seattle players, it's not just that they liked him — although they did — it's also that they played for him. You're going to start to see some of the (Falcons) start to play and act and be a little different. I think that's part of it. As an actual football coach, it's going to be better. Then there's the other part of it, which is moving into a new stadium, he's a guy who — I don't know a better way to describe it, but he's a guy everybody likes. They just like him. The fans, the city is just going to like him and they're going to want to be Falcons fans a little more because he just makes you feel like you're watching and listening to something important. All that intangible stuff, I think you'll start to notice when you take a look at going into this season, the excitement — it'll be just a little bit different.
The 2015 Scouting Combine is officially underway in Indianapolis. Take a look at these pictures from the first day.
JA: With the recent restructuring of the front office and a new head coach, how does this Combine maybe become more important from others?
IR: Yeah, there was a restructuring and I think Quinn will have a huge say in the kind of players he brings in. Remember, in Seattle, that's one of the best player development factories there is, so Quinn's got first-hand knowledge of, how can I bring in guys that fit my scheme? Even if other people don't see it, if I know that he fits what I want to do, I feel comfortable taking them. He saw that, he saw that first-hand. The other thing is, I'm not sure the front office really changed that much. Some of the titles changed, but Thomas (Dimitroff) and (Scott) Pioli are friends. They think very similarly. Whatever titles they have, whoever's the boss, whoever is technically in charge of this or that, they're still going to be on the same page. Really, I'm not sure what's actually going to change because it's still going to be the same two sets of eyes.
JA: From the outside looking in, when you see the Falcons roster, do you look at it as a group that needs a piece here or there or do you see it as a rebuilding year?
IR: Defensively, it's a rebuilding, and it's not necessarily a bad thing because I think it's going to be rebuilt in a better way. But I think it might take some time to get some better players in there. Offensively, in Kyle Shanahan, you're getting a guy — he knows what he wants to do, he's shown that he can run his system well. ... He adjusts on the fly. Offensively, I think it'll be a little more of a blending of systems where you'll get to a point where Matt Ryan will be able to succeed right away because he has a coach who is programmed to make sure that happens.
JA: From everything we've heard, it seems like, if there was ever a draft where you would need a pass rusher, this would be a good time to have a top-10 pick.
IR: You're right in that pass rusher would seem to be the most obvious need, but there's a lot of different ways that can happen. It's not just about getting after the quarterback, which you can do in a lot of different ways. One of the things about (No.) 8 is you really have no control over who's going to fall to you. In my mind, it'll be the best available player. One thing, just judging from Seattle, they got pass rush from a lot of different places, a lot of guys who other people didn't want. Two years ago, no one wanted Cliff Avril. Last year, no one wanted O'Brien Schofield. Both those guys were really productive. My guess is, just knowing where Dan Quinn comes from, if it's a pass rusher... it won't be the obvious pick. That's my guess. It'll be someone who he sees and identifies as someone who can be successful in his system and make everyone else more successful.