Dimitroff ready to move up for right player

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff discusses what goes into a decision to trade up in the NFL Draft. Video by D. Orlando Ledbetter

Falcons hold the 26th overall pick in the NFL Draft

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Dan Quinn tinkered with the team’s digital draft board on Thursday. The NFL Draft is less than a week away and final preparations are being made.

Dimitroff wouldn’t reveal the rankings or how much a player was shifted up or down on the ordered list.

The Falcons currently hold the 26th overall pick in the draft, which is set for Thursday through Saturday in Arlington, Texas. Will they stay there?

“It’s always nice for me from an experience standpoint to draft alongside one of the most tenured GMs in the league,” Quinn said. “He’s one of the very best at what he does.”

In addition to the 26th overall pick, the Falcons hold picks 58 (second round), 90th (third round), 126th (fourth round), 200 (sixth) and 244 (seventh). Atlanta was awarded the final pick in the draft (No. 256) -- referred to as Mr. Irrelevant -- as a compensatory pick for losing five players in free agency in 2017.

After free agency, the Falcons needs are very clear. They need to add a defensive tackle, fullback, linebacker, wide receiver/returner and an offensive guard in the draft.

“This is an interesting draft because there are a number of positions that we are looking at more than in other years,” Dimitroff said. “In other years, we were really honed in on potentially one or two (positions). We have a number of positions that we really think can benefit us at 26. That’s actually really exciting.”

The Falcons could pick up a defensive tackle in the first round or add an offensive weapon.

They have worked through about 10 draft scenarios and have gotten a different player each time.

“More scenarios this year than we’ve had in quite a while,” Dimitroff said. “We don’t call them mock drafts, because that’s for the media. ... We try to project all the way through our draft. First, second and third rounds are a lot more focused.”

In four of his 10 drafts with the Falcons, Dimitroff has traded up.

If the Falcons want to land one of the top defensive tackles in the draft – Washington’s Vita Vea and Alabama’s De’Ron Payne – they will have to move up in this draft.

Dimitroff has moved up in the draft to select left tackle Sam Baker (2008), wide receiver Julio Jones (26 spots in 2011), cornerback Desmond Trufant (2013) and defensive end Takkarist McKinley (2017).

“The player that we are going to acquire has driven that most of the time,” Dimitroff said. “Of course, we are always thinking about cost. Where our team is. Where our team’s roster is.

“What we did in ‘11, was not only the player, but where we were as an organization. Even last year, moving up for Takk, we had a lot of discussions about where we were with our pass rush.”

Dimitroff said that there were six to eight defensive tackles with first- or second-round grades in the draft.

“Of course, we have to look at the compensation and be realistic about it,” Dimitroff said about moving up in the draft. “We pretty well know when we are looking to move up five, six, eight, 10 or 21 (spots), what it is going to cost us. We get our heads around that a lot sooner than on draft day.”

The Falcons are hoping there’s a run on quarterbacks in front of them and that pushes a good player down to 26th.

“We want as many (quarterbacks) to go as possible,” Dimitroff said. “The first round projection of the quarterbacks will give us a lot more indication about what is going to go between 10 and 26. It doesn’t really matter if they go in the first 10 or after that. As long as they are going before 26, that will give us more opportunity. That’s the big thing.”

The Falcons have traded with Seattle and Denver over the past few years. The Julio Jones trade was with the former Cleveland administration.

“We have some great allies,” Dimitroff said. “There are certain people that you can do business with and not only trust, but you can be efficient and effective with it all. There are a lot of people out there that will string it along and we may think it’s not worth our time.”

The Falcons have drafted heavily for defense in three previous Dimitroff-Quinn drafts.

“At the end (of the day), you trust what you do,” Quinn said. “Nobody knows our team better than us. … What’s the best thing for the team. There’s need and there is strictly talent.”

The Falcons plan to plug some of their holes with this draft. Fullback Derrick Coleman was not re-signed and there isn’t a fullback currently on the roster.

“It so important to be clear about what we need,” Dimitroff said. “Sometimes, it’s not just on the No. 1 starting position, but there are some next level players that are really important. The fact that Dan is open to playing younger guys is great for us.”

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