Dimitroff on the draft: Falcons aren’t ‘locked in’ on Graham

Thomas Dimitroff, wearing shirt and tie, briefs the media Thursday. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Thomas Dimitroff, wearing clean clothes, briefs the media Thursday. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Flowery Branch — Thomas Dimitroff insisted Thursday the Falcons are not, as has been widely speculated, bound and determined to grab Brandon Graham with their first-round pick. Said Dimitroff, winking when Graham’s name was mentioned: “Who’s that?”

Then, more seriously: “We’re not locked in [on Graham]. But 19 of the 20 mock drafts I’ve seen have us taking him, so I’d say everybody else is locked in Brandon Graham.”

The Michigan defensive end is indeed a subject of much consideration here at 4400 Falcon Parkway, but in Dimitroff’s pre-draft briefing he  emphasized that this draft, unlike his first two as general manager, isn’t targeted to address one specific unit. “We’ve finally got an opportunity to open the draft board to both offense and defense,” Dimitroff said.

Translation: Don’t rule out the possibility of the Falcons taking an offensive lineman in Round 1. Asked if he’d be comfortable spending the draft’s 19th pick on a O-lineman, Dimitroff said: “I’d be comfortable doing that. It’s never a flashy pick, but if a offensive lineman has versatility, the ability to play dual positions would give him exponential value.”

Is Maurkice Pouncey, who played center at Florida, capable of playing more than one position? “Yes,” Dimitroff said.

About those mock drafts: Dimitroff admitted he checks them, and he also allowed that the Falcons have designated a front-office person to keep track of such Internet listings. “It’s very clear that Mr. Blank wants his mock drafts,” Dimitroff said.

As mentioned in this space last week, some of the latest mock drafts have defensive ends who are rated higher than Graham — Tech’s Derrick Morgan and Jean Pierre-Paul of South Florida — slipping into the teens. Were that to happen a week from now, would the Falcons be tempted to trade up and pluck such a pass rusher?

Dimitroff: “If we determined that kind of player was the heir apparent [to a position of impact] and would take us to another level, we would consider that. But we have to be very cognizant of the money value. If you’re moving up five to 10 spots, you’re talking about $10 million more in guaranteed money. We’d have to make sure it’s worth doing from both a skill and business standpoint.”

That said, Dimitroff conceded the Falcons “would like to ramp up the pressure” of their pass rush. He also admitted that the signing of free agent cornerback Dunta Robinson “did change our approach to this draft drastically.” And he made no secret of his desire to acquire a second-round pick — the Falcons sent theirs to Kansas City in the Tony Gonzalez trade last year — and mentioned New England and Philadelphia as teams that might be looking to serve as a trade partner.

He also noted he hadn’t been home — Dimitroff lives in Buckhead — in a while. He has been spending nights in the GM’s suite (yes, there is such a thing) at the dormitory on the grounds here. He arrived for his briefing wearing a shirt and tie not because he wanted to appear businesslike, he said, but “because this was literally the only thing I had clean.”

Oh, and about Brandon Graham: “He’s a good football player. He’ll be effective in this league.”

One man’s interpretation: If the Falcons wind up with Brandon Graham, they’ll be happy. But there are other players in this draft who might make them happier.

140 comments Add your comment

Blue Fender

April 15th, 2010
12:20 pm

Newbomb Turk

April 15th, 2010
12:24 pm

2nd!! Wow highest I’ve ever been

Newbomb Turk

April 15th, 2010
12:25 pm

I’d take Pouncey, btw, and then try like crazy to get back a 2nd rd pick.

Blue Fender

April 15th, 2010
12:25 pm

But if Spoon is gone, then Graham wouldn’t be bad. However, how many DEs are we going to have on the roster? DOL may be right and TD may choose Pouncey if Spoon is gone.

teamguy

April 15th, 2010
12:32 pm

In my fantasy world, where I’m eternally twenty-eight and wealthy, I want a trade of a good player and our first round pick for C J Spiller. I think he’s the biggest game-changer on the board. If all he does is return kicks, he makes his team exponentially better.

Hindu Elvis Pimp

April 15th, 2010
12:39 pm

Don’t be an idiot and ready anything into what Dimitroff says a week BEFORE the draft. No way is he, or any other team going to reveal their exact draft plans.

Bradley……….How long have you been a sports writer? This rhetoric from Dimitroff should not fool you.

The D

April 15th, 2010
12:41 pm

pouncey or spoon, graham just isn’t a “wow” type DE

mudcat

April 15th, 2010
12:44 pm

The Patriots REALLY want Graham. I smell trade if they can work out the details.

Marcus

April 15th, 2010
12:51 pm

ro-rowwwwww (channeling Scooby-doo) .. could D.O. Ledbetter be on the money with his man-crush on certain OL from the Univ. of Flo-ri-da? I shudder the thought.
the ajc.com servers might crash with the tidal wave I told you so’s (from DOL) and mea culpa’s (from those of us who clowned him on his mock draft).

Dude

April 15th, 2010
12:59 pm

Spoon @ #19 then trade up into the 2nd round and get Gronko! He is the complete package for a TE! Tony G will work with him and make him even better!

D. Orlando Ledbetter

April 15th, 2010
1:02 pm

Hope y’all have some fun with this.

Interesting that TD also told us that the Falcons’ war room was going to be on the NFL Network LIVE from the 17 to the 19th picks. With no audio!!! We’re going to have to hire some lip readers!!!!

Hindu Elvis Pimp

April 15th, 2010
1:08 pm

Man love? Maybe DOL knows more than we do since he does spend time at the Branch. Maybe also pays attention and knows that OL depth is a need. There are a lot of good first round offensive lineman in the NFL. This would not be a reach. The Falcons could do a lot worse.

Still, just because Dimitroff opened the possibility, does not mean this will be the scenario on draft day.

GetwhatUpayfor

April 15th, 2010
1:12 pm

Pouncey is ok but who ever we get will be good because Falcons GM knows his business.

C3 Jim

April 15th, 2010
1:15 pm

Seems dangerous to draft a DE…how many have panned out for us or the league over the last several years?? I like TD’s business approach and trust his judgement on talent and fit. Building a dominant O line seems like a good move but that might be done in later picks. I want a dominant defense, strong but not flashy offense and a Super Bowl trophy.

Falcon Devil

April 15th, 2010
1:26 pm

Golden Tate = Steve Smith

Matt Ryan

April 15th, 2010
1:30 pm

Trade Jenkins for a 4th rounder, draft a WR 1st and get the double teams off my boy Roddy.

Greg

April 15th, 2010
1:43 pm

I agree about this: Graham is very good, and would be very nice to have. But given our current personnel, I think we actually would derive more value from Pouncey. Number 1, he’s a surer thing to make an impact for years, just talent-wise. Number 2, he’s more likely to start, and sooner, than Graham. Graham is 6′1 263lbs, and has a motor. Bierman is 6′3 260, and also has a motor. Maurice Lucas is 6′4 260, and also has a motor. Sidbury is 6′3 265, and also has a motor. Get the picture? We need a better pass rush from the front—it’s very important—but I’m not sure, given who we already have, that we shouldn’t look to ‘Spoon first if he’s there.

Greg

April 15th, 2010
1:44 pm

…’Spoon, if Pouncey is gone.

PMC

April 15th, 2010
1:45 pm

This draft is wide open because they can take the best player on thier board regardless what side of the field they play on. They do have some needs, especially OLB.. DE, Center, TE of the future… depth at DT but this draft is REALLY deep on the defensive line and I think you can get O line depth later on too.

They are going to get a really good player in the first and those compensatories should do nicely too.

PMC

April 15th, 2010
1:48 pm

I like that Dimitroff can not really tell you anything but when he does answer he answers truthfully and as openly as possible.

Section243

April 15th, 2010
1:54 pm

Eagles & Pats have multiple 2nd round picks. Draft value chart for 19th = 2 2nd round picks. Seems like a good deal to me in a deep draft.

**Frederick(Bailey) Douglass

April 15th, 2010
1:58 pm

Very interesting. Any chance that Snelling signed his tender because he is trade bait to get TD his 2nd round pick?

I hope not…but let me guess: Either Norwood or Snelling will not be in a Falcons uniform come opening day AND the Birds will have a rookie on the field that was selected in the second round.

Pi$$onaDAWG

April 15th, 2010
2:01 pm

Great to hear TD is open to the BEST PLAYER that will the Falcons not just the Best Player on the Board. All that being said the Falcons need to put a WINNER onthe FIELD and get to the Playoffs for the next 3 or 4 years. This “Wait Till Next Year” crap is so UGA. We want a winner and a winner now.

Hollywould

April 15th, 2010
2:04 pm

I read the new Sporting News last nite and TD was saying that him and CMS really don’t pay attention to what guys do in their tshirts and shorts. They base most of their scouting on PRODUCTION in college.
I like that idea. Kinda like my first wife!!!

Pi$$onaDAWG

April 15th, 2010
2:05 pm

Yes, I am a TECH fan so be it, I would like to get a WR that ain’t selfish, will block, is Big/Strong, and can Catch passes. If that has to be throught FA or the draft is fine with me. I still more upside on D. Thomas than downside.

Realist

April 15th, 2010
2:12 pm

Someone find the quotes from TD’s pre-draft press conferences last year and see if they were useful or just smokescreens.

Halsey

April 15th, 2010
2:18 pm

I’m just worried that Graham’s talent does not warrant a top 20 pick. I’d rather the Falcons take a more talented player at their second, third or fourth biggest need than reach for a guy just because he plays DE. Then again, I could be wrong. Maybe his lack of ideal measurments doesn’t prevent him from being worthy of a top 20 pick. I won’t lose any sleep if the Falcons pass or take Graham.

Mr. Phil

April 15th, 2010
2:19 pm

@Falcon Devil Golden Tate = Steve Smith

If that is true stay away from Golden Tate. Production aside, Steve Smith is a *i jerk.

Falcon Devil

April 15th, 2010
2:28 pm

@ Phil
Was talking about his playing style and athleticism for a smaller WR. Nothing suggests he has any attitude problems.

Hollywould

April 15th, 2010
2:28 pm

PI$$, you are right/problem being I am an Auburn man>

Resign or Resign?

April 15th, 2010
2:29 pm

Charlie Casserly, of NFL network, who has judged more football talent than any of us here on this blog, calls Pouncey “a second round talent, The first two centers taken last year (one in the second round) are both better. Dan Williams (DT-Tenn) beat Pouncey like a drum when UT played Fla.”

Resign or Resign?

April 15th, 2010
2:32 pm

…and someone on ESPN radio yesterday, when asked who was the most over-hyped and over-rated player in the draft, named Golden Tate.

mmgtfan

April 15th, 2010
2:33 pm

I agree with Blue Fender. SPOON!!!!!!!!!!!

Resign or Resign?

April 15th, 2010
2:35 pm

After last years run of injuries (Jerry, Moore, etc) and bust (Middleton), this year’s draft will either vindicate or spoil TD’s reputation for judging talent.

bdawg1968

April 15th, 2010
2:37 pm

Can Smitty and Dimitroff PLEASE join the front offices of the Thrashers !

Mike Jay

April 15th, 2010
2:48 pm

Spoon, puncy or trade that first pick. My oreder of preference.

saint simons

April 15th, 2010
3:04 pm

draft some of those GT boys that scored a couple of touchdowns last night against us in baseball

JIm Mora, Jr.

April 15th, 2010
3:08 pm

Spoon — cause I like them little off brand Shreaded Wheats called spooners…ever tried them?

Whopper Dawg

April 15th, 2010
3:15 pm

Pats trade up for Graham hopefully with us. Don’t take the center, that is nuts. Trade down take Spoon, and pick up a late 2nd early third and take the Baylor center.

O'Brien

April 15th, 2010
3:17 pm

If the Steelers pass on Pouncey, and thats who the Falcons want, then I would suggest trading back and get a second round pick along the way.

DOL,

Are you the only blog who did not have the Falcons taking Graham? Based on the GM’s response, maybe you’re onto something after all.

Got to B more careful

April 15th, 2010
3:21 pm

Alot of good comments, thoughts and observations about draft day. Greg, I agree about the DE scenario. I also see DOL position on Pouncey. I to would like to see DT find a way to acquire 2nd round picks by either trading the 1st round for 2 second rounders OR making trades and/or swaping picks for next year picks to acquire picks since this draft is deep. If they keep the 19th pick and Graham/Pouncey/Spoon are still on the board (and this IS possible) then that will be interesting. I too would take Pouncey since he could start immediately & make a quicker impact and he is versatle (thats why DT said versatility is valuable & worthy of high pick so to speak). If not, and DT picks a DE or LB, then what people are not paying close attention too is the fact that the center from Boston College that played with Matt Ryan will likely be around in 3rd round and I’m sure he will be very serviceable. I also beleive DT will get either a TE or WR to help the offense and I will not be surprised to see a trade by DT on/before draft day. One thing is for sure, there will be some moves on draft day given the debth of this draft and VERY good players will be available in 2nd, 3rd rounds, 4th rounds.

Resign or Resign?

April 15th, 2010
3:35 pm

Pouncey would start immediately? Where? In Blalock’s spot? Not for McClure or Dahl for sure; and he’s not better NOW than Blalock!

Magic Man

April 15th, 2010
3:37 pm

From reading in between the lines there, I think we will either A) trade back and acquire a second round pick, or B) draft Murkice Pouncey. I trust in TD and will apologize to DOL if we draft Pouncey.

Pi$$onaDAWG

April 15th, 2010
3:44 pm

Hollywould good for you. I love playing Auburn! Fans are nice, School is beautiful, close to Atlanta, and We have won the last few we have played. Not picking just glad we did win. Did you marry a UGA girl then by your statement? You got a good commit from the Pope kid. I wish he came to TECH.

JC in Powder Springs

April 15th, 2010
3:45 pm

Norwood of Acworth & S. Carolina would be a good addition. How come nobody talks about him?

Delbert D.

April 15th, 2010
3:55 pm

DLed is now frothing at the mouth. He still has a chance for his dreams of Pouncey to come true.

waynester

April 15th, 2010
3:59 pm

On Graham, TD said “he’s a good football player who’ll be effective in this league” almost verbatim what Bellichick said on ESPN today when asked about the DE from Mich..DLed reported Dimitroff taking a call from “the Hoodie” on the golf course awhile back, so we’re obviously keeping the lines open. Along with NE and Philly, now the Broncos have 2 2nd rounders due to the Marshall trade. They need anothe WR and help at Safety. If Dez Bryant, Earl Thomas or Taylor Mays are still there at 19, we trade out #19 and 117(935pts) for Denver’s #’s 43,45 and 183 (939pts) our draft could be something like this:
43 OT Saffold/Veldheer
45 RB McClusters
83 DT Atkins
98 (C) TE Graham/Pitta
149 DE D. te’o Nesheim
165(C) OC Byers/Estes
171 OLB Muckleroy
183 OT Washington
189 WR White/Gettis/Barnes
UDFA CB,OG,K

Charles J.

April 15th, 2010
4:05 pm

I must have missed it can someone tell me how does what TD said spell Pouncey. It seems to me that everything and I do mean everything is wide open. We could go OLB and get Spoon and a lot of us would be pleased with the pick. And then again he could go with a WR and that might mean BayBay and that would make a lot of us with will be happier. I guess you can se which camp I’m in.lol But then again he could going TE and we’d be ok with it too. Bottom line is that we beleave in our GM and think whatever he does it will work out for us. I love projecting my hopes for the Falcons a$ well a$ DOL and the rest of you. I just reserve the right to mock just how wrong I think you R. And about this picking of A FREAKNG CENTER I truly hope you R with the @19 for us isn’t a$ greater need a$ WR..

Charles J.

April 15th, 2010
4:15 pm

Oh one more point if it’s true that Washington only want’s a 3rd for A. Haynesworth and we coull that trigger and get him, man talk about instancely inproved pass rush and TD could go mad in this draft.

Resign or Resign?

April 15th, 2010
4:26 pm

Got to B…..

Who is DT?