Indianapolis — Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff addressed several topics — including free agency,
Julius Peppers and the drafting of Matt Ryan -- at the NFL scouting combine on Saturday.
OPENING STATEMENT: How is everyone doing? This is my 21st combine and honestly I never get tired and continue to be ramped up by the thought of new and improving additions to our team. Going into 2010 for Atlanta, (there is) no question that we have a lot of work to do. We have a lot of . . . actually I think where we need the most improvement is in the side of consistency. We talked about that last year. That was the one element that I think was lacking across the board. There’s room for evaluation at every level. Myself included and we are looking forward to continuing to improve and this is a great place for us to start. So, with that, any questions? I’ll be happy to try to answer.
Q: How has the combine been thus far, especially today with the drills starting?
A: This is always the best part. Leading up to this time it drags on a but when you actually get a chance to put your eyes on some of these athletes and you can juxtapost these athletes with other athletes from around the country, and how they actually perform in those drills. Again, it’s not actually competition on the field with pads on, but you really get a chance to see how these players are going to move. You get to see them live and in person. . . it really starts to pull things together as far as our draft board.
Q: What is your philosophy in general with your first round pick, do you trade up or back and collect value?
A: My feeling has always been that it’s contingent on the draft. It depends on where we are. What we are looking for. The strength at that position. That’s what really determines if we will trade down or back or out of the first round. I will tell you that it’s like almost going into a holiday season and expecting that gift and then moving out of the first round and not having that prime gift is pretty difficult. . . . all the work that you do as a scouting staff and as an organization, walking away without a first round pick seems anticlimactic. I would venture to say that you’d rarely see that with me, but you know how things go. Things can change depending on the talent there and what we are looking for.
Q: Did you field many trade offers when you had a top five pick?
A: At three? We didn’t field that many. . .we knew had to stand pat. It really wasn’t that much action on the third. It’s a high dollar pick obviously. You have to have owner that is understanding as far as putting the money out.
Q: Is it you feeling that teams are reluctant to trade up?
A: It is my feeling. Every year you have people inquire about how to have someone move up to the single digit picks and sometimes they’ll void that and try to get to the middle of the round. Fortunately, that’s were we are this year. . .when I was involved with the Patriots we were always right around there. It’s a very good value pick. I personally feel quite comfortable in that area and picking in that area.
Q: You all had to put a lot of thought into picking Matt Ryan with a top five pick?
A: We did. That took a lot of time, effort and consideration. We thought often about, should we try to move back. Again, as we really looked at that, especially knowing that there was a quarterback there that we were comfortable with, it wasn’t as difficult. But other positions, defensive line, you can make a lot of mistakes throughout the history of the draft on defensive line that early as well. That just happened to be the other position that we were seriously considering. Again, we’ve had the good fortune to date and we feel confident that we are moving in the right direction with Matt Ryan. Before it’s all said and done with that pick, we feel comfortable with what we did.
Q: Historically, there is little movement on the restricted free agency front. With the talented and expanded pool do you thing there will be more movement this year?
A: I believe there is going to be that much more contemplation to see who actually pulls the trigger, will be very interesting. I want to see what comes up in the tenders. I think it will be an interesting dynamic to see who’s going to be moving during that time. I think again, there will be a lot more interest to see how many people do go after (restricted free agents).
Q: What will free agency be like this offseason?
A: I’ve got round and round about leading into this part of the preparation time. There aren’t that many players who will be out there with the U slash RFA players due to the CBA. In the past, we would have seen a lot more numbers out there. We would have been contemplating which March 5th came around if we were going to jump in there and we’d be really busy during that time. I sense that we are a lot more focused, seemingly this year on draft preparation. Usually we take this is cycles or segments. This was definitely a free agent segment leading up to beginning of free agency. Now we tend to be focusing on the draft, that much earlier. I will be interested to see how much interest there is going into free agency with the fewer numbers. I think there are some really good players out there. But personally, we’ll really kick that off on the 5th of March.
Q: Are you all in a position to go after Julius Peppers?
A: When the 5th comes around and we’re ready to focus on free agency, we’ll can really focus on it, we’ll be open to considering any possibilities. We’ll research it hard. That’s part of our jobs. We’ll look at all of the players that are of interest to us and who we deem as good fiscally responsible moves. That will be an important thing for us as a team.