Falcons making most of southern advantage

Calvin Ridley (26th): Wide receiver caught at least one pass in all 44 games of his career at Alabama. Isaiah Oliver (58th): Defensive back had 32 passes defensed, 10th in school history, in three-year career at Colorado. Deadrin Senat (90th): Defensive tackle had 178 tackles, 23.5 for a loss, and seven sacks, in four years at South Florida. Ito Smith (126th): Running back led team in rushing in each of this four seasons at Southern Miss. Russell Gage (194th): Wide receiver had 347 receiving yards and 232

Falcons General manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Dan Quinn want to make the most of their southeastern advantage.

So far, so good.

The team used four of its six picks in the 2018 NFL Draft this weekend on deep south products. First-round wide receiver Calvin Ridley and third-round defensive tackle Deadrin Senat hail from Florida. Fourth-round running back Ito Smith is from Alabama. Sixth-round special teams ace Russell Gage is from Louisiana.

“The coolest part about living down here is we are in football country in the SEC,” Quinn said. “That’s Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Tennessee, LSU. Man, this is where it’s at. You can see that happens in the draft, happened in the first round.”

LSU has been the biggest beneficiary of the Falcons’ philosophy. Since Quinn’s arrival, the Falcons have taken a Tiger in every draft: Jalen Collins, Deion Jones, Duke Riley and Gage.

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