FLOWERY BRANCH – Here’s part of the Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff post-draft media briefing.
He talks about all of the pick and addresses why the team did not draft a defensive end.
1 Sean Weatherspoon OLB Missouri 19th
3 Corey Peters DT Kentucky 83rd
3 Mike Johnson OL Alabama 98th
4 Joe Hawley OL UNLV 117th
5 Dominique Franks CB Oklahoma 135th
5 Kerry Meier WR Kansas 165th
6 Shann Schillinger S Montana 171st
DIMITROFF ON FRANKS: “We had an opportunity to acquire a corner who had ,fortunately for us, dropped in the draft a great deal from where he was projected. He’s a fast individual who brings us another good size corner to throw into the competition there in (the) secondary. It will be good to see how that competition works out for Dominique. He also has return skills, which should not be under-stated.
DIMITROFF ON MEIER: “He’s another very smart football player. He was a converted quarterback, who has the skills. He has a very good set of hands. He’s a very good concentration guy. He’s a smart football player and knows the field very well from his time as a quarterback. Again, we are looking forward to him competing for one of the receiver spots. He has good size. He’s a good target.”
DIMITROFF ON SCHILLINGER: “He was a safety that we were focused in on. We brought him in here during our top 30 visits. He’s a guy that we have a good feel for as far as his ability to move around. He’s a speed guy. He’s fast. He’s 4.50 guy at 200 pounds. He can fly around the field. He’s a very smart football player. Hopefully, we’ll have Kroy Biermann help him out along the way and be one of his Montana brethren. He will compete for one of the safety spots as well as be a legitimate potential core specials teams guy. . . Most ideally, he’s a free safety.”
Then he opened the floor for questions.
Q: How is Meier’s speed?
A: “He came in at 4.59. He’s right on that borderline into the 4.6s. But he’s a guy who is 220 pounds, is a good route runner and has a good feel of the field as far as getting to the open spot. You combine that with his concentration and hands, we were comfortable with them.”
Q: “I read some not so positive things about Franks’ play (get beats a lot, reacts poorly to ball in air, heel striker), were those some of reasons why he slipped? Had some bad tape?”
A: “Interestingly enough, I’m not exactly sure why he (slipped). We’ve done a lot of work on the secondary. We always will. Year in and year out, that will be a focused position for us. In the National Football League (you want) to make sure that you’re dialed in on your secondary. As we all know, we saw some of the repercussions of the challenging situations from last year. With that said, we’ve had a number of conversations with a number of teams who were really surprised that he did fall to that point. To me and to our organization, we didn’t expect him to be there because there was a real run on corners after that. There might have been five or six corners who flew off the board. The idea that we were able to get a guy that had good size, he’s proven himself in a league that is a very pass-happy league as well. Again, I can’t stress the fact that not only that, he’s got very fluid movement and he’s got very good return skills that we can build on.”
Q: Have you talked to the Meier family to send your condolences regarding the tragic death of his brother this week?
A: “I haven’t talked to them personally. I have talked to Kerry and delivered the message that he was going to in fact be pick. It’s a very unfortunate and heartbreaking story. To be quite honest with you, when I was talking to him I had that proverbial lump in the throat. You could tell how excited they were. You could hear his family in the background. My heart goes out to the family.”
Q: What was the rationale behind the decision not to take a defensive end in this draft?
A: “We were focused in the first round. . . we decided that with the movement up to the point on picking Sean Weatherspoon that we were going to go with a linebacker. Past that point there were a certain amount of defensive ends that we’d consider. It got to a point . . . like any time when you are talking about marquee pass rushers (were there wasn’t any left.) People that we thought could come in here and be a marquee player for years to come, those players usually go off the board quite a bit earlier than we might have considered. There were some good football players out there. There were some other situations where they might not necessarily fit into our system. So in the end, we feel very strongly about our young guys. We want to continue to develop Lawrence Sidbury. Obviously, Kroy Biermann is a guy who can get us some legitimate pressure. We truly believe as an organization that John Abraham still has the ability to get up the field and around the corner and can still bend naturally. We are hoping that through our continued concentration inside, whether if its with Peria Jerry coming back or Corey Peters, that we are going to open up things on the outside a little bit. As I mentioned before, there are a number of ways to eliminate the explosive plays in the passing game and to improve our pass rush. Not just on the outside, but through the inside and with pressure being created with linebacker blitzes. We have a linebacker that has just joined us in the draft who has legitimate speed. I think we can be creative going forward.”
Q: Is Jamaal Anderson still viewed as an end or is he a full-time tackle now?
A: “He’s still going to be viewed as a defensive end slash defensive tackle. He’s a guy that has some versatility and Coach Smith has talked about it a number of times. There will be scenarios where he’ll be reduced (inside) and other times where he’ll be expected to be outside in the regular defense. We’ll be creative with our sub defense as far as getting the right mix of who we feel are the right pass rushers from play to play.”
Q: What do you have against the Big Ten? (Now, in 26 picks over three drafts, Dimitroff has not selected one player from the Big Ten)
A: “I don’t have anything against them. I love watching their football. I don’t have anything against the Big Ten.”
Q: Do you think Jimmy Clausen could start in Carolina?
A: “Having been under the tutelage of Charlie Weis, he is definitely pro ready. I not very happy to see someone who we determine as being a very good prospect going to a team in our division. Good for them that they got him, but we have to look at it closely.”