Falcons GM on 1st-rd trading: Never count us out
Around this time of year in the NFL with the draft looming, rumors and false information swirl and an abundance of talk of trading up and down reigns.
Add the Falcons to the cavalcade of teams who might be looking to move and shake in the 2020 NFL Draft.
An Atlanta pass rush long absent of production and now without Vic Beasley could certainly use a boost and is no doubt one of the team’s biggest offseason needs. But would that warrant trading up (or down) to get the right fit?
With his team sitting at No. 16 in the first round, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff’s message is seemingly that the franchise could move any which way in its selection process.
"I think there’s going to be a lot of really interesting action between (picks) 10 and 20," Dimitroff said Friday on 92.9 The Game. "And again, I would never count us out because again we’re a team that has been active (in past drafts).
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"That said, it is one of those draft situations where, given some of the depth in some of these positions, it does set up the opportunity to potentially move back. And you know, as long as I’ve been here, we’ve not been a real active team moving back. But again, this year may be one of those years that you could truly look at that and obviously acquire a couple more picks in different parts in the draft to use up to pair together to get up, of course, in another round."
Not since the Falcons’ ascent to the Super Bowl in the 2016 season, have they had a player with double-digit sacks and that was Beasley. As a team, Atlanta totaled a meager 28 sacks in 2019 — which tied for second-to-last in the NFL.
"We’ve had situations where we’ve been very outspoken about Vic leaving," Dimitroff said. "Obviously, we need to continue to look at where we are going to go with getting to the quarterback. That is just not on the outside (defensive end), that’s on the inside (defensive tackle) as well. We made some big moves last year not only with Grady Jarrett, but bringing in Tyeler Davison and Allen Bailey. We’ve always believed in a rotation on that defensive line."
The offensive line is also an area of need that Dimitroff pointed out. One would presume cornerback and running back are likewise on that list.
"We believe there are a number of areas that can help us be a championship-caliber football team," he said.
But it appears to begin with addressing the punchless pass rush.
Iowa’s A.J. Epenesa has been seen as a good fit for the Falcons at No. 16 and LSU’s K’Lavon Chaisson would also seem to be an option. Of course, when talking about pass rushers and the 2020 NFL Draft, the name at the forefront is Ohio State’s Chase Young. Though many believe LSU quarterback Joe Burrow will find his way to the Bengals with the No. 1 pick, Young is seen by many as the top-rated player in the draft.
Might the Falcons somehow make a mighty leap up to get Young?
"I understand the conversation that’s been circulating. I get that," Dmitroff said when asked about making a large move, presumably for Young. "We did make a big-time move for Julio [Jones] way back when.
"We spent a lot of time back in ’11 analyzing our situation and knowing where the organization was, of course. Knowing the talent we had. Knowing where the contracts were and the length of contracts. It takes a lot of research in that way to decide whether if you’re going to make a once-in-a-career type move.
"Organizationally speaking, you don’t make those moves all of the time. They are really thought-out decisions."
And 2020 is a year in which the Falcons’ moves will be scrutinized perhaps more than ever as Dmitroff and head coach Dan Quinn survived a 7-9 campaign in which they fell short of expectations once again. Though there is an abundance of talent on the Atlanta roster — particular at the skill positions — there are some huge needs and only a projected $4.3 million in cap space (per Over the Cap) to work with.
Thus, whether it’s up or down, big or small, every move in the upcoming draft is a crucial one for Dimitroff and Co.
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