FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – In the middle of an early morning workout on Thursday morning, it all clicked for Thomas Dimitroff in terms of what the Falcons will do with the No. 14 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
“I’m thinking, ‘Yeah, this is [the] person we’re going to take,’” Dimitroff said. “It’s kind of interesting when it hits you.”
Going into his 12th draft as Atlanta’s general manger, Dimitroff has this down to a science.
A week out from the draft, the Falcons’ draft board is pretty much set. The week leading up to the draft is more about the final touches and conversations with other general managers about potential trades.
“We like to have our front board quite clean and really dialed in,” Dimitroff said. “That’s where we are right now. We’re putting the final touches on everything.”
Sure, there’s the possibility the Falcons could be given new information on a prospect that could change things in the final week, but for the most part, Dimitroff knows exactly who he wants to draft come April 25th.
The question on draft night won’t be regarding which prospect the Falcons hope to draft, it’s more about if he’ll be available. If not, where do the Falcons go next? That’s the main question Dimitroff has to prepare for.
And that’s why Dimitroff is a firm believer in not entering the weekend stuck on just one prospect.
“At times, you might not get exactly who you want,” Dimitroff said. “You hope to have two, three or four guys that you really do want. That’s a big thing for me to be positive about. If you’re only focused on one person and that doesn’t work, that’s a tough thing to be in the room, everyone can feel the energy.”
Dimitroff said during his tenure as Falcons’ general manager, there has not been a time where he’s had a “womp womp” moment after not landing his desired prospect.
When it comes to the draft, the Falcons don’t operate solely as a “needs-based” team.
That’s not to say Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn won’t address specific positions of need, but if the highest-graded player on their board is available at a position that might not be viewed as a top need, they’ll take that player over a lower-graded player at the position of need.
“Of course, we’re needs based [but with] that said, we’re not just going to go after someone because we need that position,” Dimitroff said. “We need to make sure that talent is matching what is on the board. We’ll never just randomly pick someone because we need a defensive end or whatever position. That’s not going to be the way it is.”
Atlanta selecting Calvin Ridley in the first round is an example of Dimitroff’s strategy. Wide receiver wasn’t necessarily the top need for the Falcons heading into the 2018 NFL Draft, but Ridley was too good of a player to pass up.
The Falcons’ positional needs are pretty clear to this point: Tackle, defensive tackle, defensive end and cornerback. Three of those positions are viewed as the strengths of the draft.
“This is a unique year,” Dimitroff said. “Defensive line is heavy [in talent] as well as [the] offensive line.”
The Falcons have nine picks to use in this year’s draft which takes place on April 25th at 8 p.m. ET in Nashville, Tenn.