What Dimitroff, Quinn had to say about the first-round picks

The Falcons’ offseason theme of fixing their offensive line continued in the first round of the NFL draft on Thursday.

After adding five blockers in free agency, the Falcons picked two more in the first-round of the draft.

Boston College right guard Chris Lindstrom was tabbed with the 14th overall pick and later, after making a trade, the Falcons added Washington tackle Kaleb McGary with the 31st overall pick.

The Falcons traded their second and third round pick to the Rams to move up 14 spots in the draft from 45th to 31st. They also received a sixth-round pick.

Dimitroff has now made a trade in all 11 of his drafts. He’s traded up 11 times and back just four. He’s traded up into the first round five times to land McGary, defensive end Takk McKinley, cornerback Desmond Trufant, wide receiver Julio Jones and offensive tackle Sam Baker.

Here’s what Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn had to say about the new Falcons:

Thomas Dimitroff Opening Statement: 

“Obviously it was a busy first round for us. We were steadfast in our approach. We had planned on being very direct about how we were going to put things together this off-season, spent a lot of time as we've mentioned on the (big players) on both sides of the line, and we felt we were in a spot to grab two offensive linemen that we thought and think can be legit contributors for us. Both of those guys, again, we've spent a lot of time working them out as well as interviewing them. We spent the time looking at these guys to see if they were fits both on and off the field for us, and we were really excited about the grit, toughness, and urgency that they add to our team.”

Dan Quinn Opening Statement:

“I thought tonight we strengthened our offensive line, two of the most physical linemen in the draft that we thought. Both players will fit in well with what we want to do and how we want to play. We'll play Chris (Lindstrom) at guard, we'll play Kaleb (McGary) at tackle, and as I told you during the season, the run game and the play pass and all that goes into our offense. It's a big part of that and the style we like to play, and we feel like these guys are good fits to that. With the additions of Carp (James Carpenter) and Jamon (Brown) and now with Chris and Kaleb, we felt like this was a position that needed to be intentional and address some of the needs we thought as a team we could improve on. We're going to be a rugged, aggressive team, and these two players certainly fit that bill on the offensive line. It was a good night, a lot of fun, and as it goes through all the picks and trades, that's what makes the draft so much fun.”

On the trait that Chris Lindstrom had that made them want to take him at 14:

TD "Well, he is a very aggressive, very urgent football player. He comes off the ball very well for us. He can slide well. He's a good athlete as well as being tough and gritty. He fits the scheme that we're focused on. He's a smart football player, as well, and he's a three and a half, almost four-year starter. He's got a lot of experience. He's got a pedigree. I mean, he's just one of those guys that bring to the table - again, both on and off the field can be obviously very good."

On Kaleb McGary and his trait that made them want to trade back into the first round:

“We were very focused on him. We thought that we were able to get him in the middle of the second and the more that we looked at it, the more we started talking to more people about where we were going with our offensive line picks. We felt like we needed to be aggressive. We did not want to end up at 45 and be out of the market where there was a run on offensive linemen in the beginning of the second round. So we were aggressive, we were not going to be sitting on our hands we wanted to make sure that we were coming away with two big guys that were going to protect a major investment and part of our team that we feel can be obviously very good.”

On whether they are both projected starters or they have competition after the free agent signings:

DQ "Well, as a coach, I can tell you, yeah, you love the competition because we'll find the best five. The two guys that we've added, they'll have some versatility from the draft side of things, and we'll play the best five as they come out. But there will be long, good strong competition at a number of spots. So to add those four guys to our team this off-season over the last three months, including tonight, that's been a big hit for us, man. We couldn't be more pumped to at these guys. All have their own strengths and versatility, but two more significant additions tonight."

On what sold them on Chris Lindstrom whether going through the workout or whichever:

TD "Yeah, that's one of the combinations we were looking for. We were looking for a tough, gritty, nasty, edgy guy that was going to get out and around really well. He pulls, gets out to the second level well. He pass protects. He can slide and mirror effectively, and wrap that all up with a drive and a resiliency. He comes from a great program up in Boston College. That's a tough, gritty program. You can't be slight, you can't be airy about things there. Those guys get after it. They are pro-ready coming out of Boston College."

DQ "For me, two of the traits that we look for that we grade each player on is competitiveness and toughness, and the way we look at competitiveness is the urgency and the player that he comes off the snap or passes off a stunt. That type of urgency and finish really jumped out to me when I started the process. I'm a lot later than the scouts when I come into the process but that jumped out to me when you're asking for the traits."

On whether they took him through center drills when they worked him out: 

DQ "Yes."

On what they thought about the potential:

DQ "Yeah, almost all the guards we do that with, like just to see what type of versatility is there. But we'll throw him in at guard first."

On whether they were always thinking offensive line going into the draft today: 

TD "We were thinking offensive line and we were thinking defensive line. We were going to obviously monitor how things were falling into place, and the beginning of today, a little bit before that, we were focused on O-line, and we knew that we needed to continue to protect Matt (Ryan)."

DQ "That was going to be a draft that -- in the trenches, that was something we talked about last week. I don't know if I'm right in the numbers, but it's somewhere around what I would consider D-linemen about 13, some are listed as outside linebackers but a lot of them are defensive ends and about six or seven offensive line, somewhere in that space, so that's a lot in that group. Yeah, that was a big part of our focus for sure."

On how much they called around to move up:

TD "Called around a lot. Talked to a lot of people. Actually, a lot of people were calling me from probably six up through 12. There was just a lot of interest for people to get out of that area because they felt like they could pick up something in the middle of the round. It wasn't something that we were focused on moving up at that point. We were always looking at possibly moving out of 45 and moving up into the back end of the first."

On whether they weren’t looking to move up from 14: 

TD "Yes, we were not looking to move up at 14. We were having conversations with people because you always try to monitor what may be out there, but that was not our focus."

On whether they were never going to move up to get a defensive lineman: 

TD "We were not."

On the mindset to get a defensive lineman: 

DQ "There's always a chance."

TD "That's a very good question. We looked at everything. We had scenario after scenario."

DQ "We battled a lot on the topic. But the cool part was like Chris (Lindstrom) was always part of that conversation, and so I think that's a pretty cool trait, to know that whoever -- some of the D-linemen that you're talking about when you saw this many guys, and when you're comparing it to one of the offensive linemen. So I think that said a lot about what we thought about Chris."

On coming from a defensive coordinator mindset: 

DQ "I was impressed by this group of defensive linemen. But at the end of the day, you really just kind of keep coming back to what's best for the team and how we can go there. This path that kind of TD had laid out, when it comes together, you're pretty pumped about it because there are so many scenarios that you go through over and over, but it was probably all the way through today that the last scenario came through, through those calls that he makes. So to see the last one, the last -- before 3:00 or 4:00 today, all right, what do you think about this one. So I said, well, I like how that sounds. What's the likelihood that we could do that. And so for that plan to come together at the end of the night, that was really cool for me to see."

On actions tonight showing offensive line was in need: 

DQ "Yeah, I think part of it, I can see how you'd say that, but it's also like where some of the talent of the players lies, too, and if -- I don't know how many of those 13 were above 14 ahead compared to what's behind, and then how it fits in. That's what's the coolest part of this thing is the strategy that goes into it. It's not just this or this, this player or this player. If you get jammed up doing that, I think that could really foul up your draft because then you're reaching for a player that might not be the right fit. So what's so really cool about these two guys, the fit on the field, off the field, their makeup, what they bring to our locker room. Like these are exceptional guys to bring into a locker room. There's not like a strength development. If they get stronger they're going to be able to help. These guys have put work in, and that kind of toughness and physicality, that's a talent, too, and we really value that. And so those are some thoughts on the top of my head."

On whether there was a thought of going down and thinking Chris Lindstrom would still be there: 

TD "Look, we discussed the idea of trading back. We have some very strong feelings about it. Of course, if you have a handful of guys that you're interested in, of course, you can contemplate moving back. Our feeling was we were really focused on making sure that we acquired Lindstrom and we weren't willing to give it up. We had heard quite honestly, and I won't go into the details, but that there were three or four teams inside of 20 that were interested in him and was some pretty strong intel. The point is, yeah, we've thought about -- it was good. But look, we sat around and talked about it from the beginning of the day as Dan (Quinn) was talking about at 3:00 when Les (Snead) reached out to me and he was -- Les obviously with the Rams, and he had talked about possibly moving out. That's kind of rare. I haven't had a lot of teams call us on that before. Every once in a while you do, but the fact that they were looking to move out -- we were monitoring as the round was going on, and we would not have made that trade if we did not have who we were looking for, but that was important for us, and it all came together in the final minutes. And again, we got a six back, which for us was important, as well, because now as you know we have two fours, two fives, two sixes, and not saying we'd ever get creative with picks, but we still have picks to get creative with."

On if Atlanta traded the first and the sixth for a second and a third:

TD "Yes."

On people reacting saying that Chris Lindstrom at 14 was a bit of a reach: 

TD "Any time you're talking about guards -- not anytime, but a lot of times in the history of drafts, guards aren't taken as early or centers aren't taken as early. Every once in a while, that happens. Again, we feel very comfortable with where we were. We knew that we were going to have to be aggressive, meaning we weren't looking back. We had made our choice on Chris Lindstrom, and we weren't concerned about obviously anyone thinking that he was a reach. That's a big thing for us."

On why guards are getting more attention in the first round these days:

TD "Look, we've talked a lot about that, as well. That interior is so unbelievably important for guys like Matt to step up. Yes, outside we know how important it is off the edge, but if your guy can't climb up inside. And so there was a wave there and you can go back and forth. Some teams think you can go out in free agency and do it, some teams think you can do it in the draft and develop the guards. But it's more and more important now to make sure your guards are adept. We happen to think that we want to do both, of course, this year."

On the realization moment, you had last week, was it, Chris Lindstrom:  TD "Yes of course it was."

On what it is about these two guys that make them feel they are prepared already as offensive linemen: 

TD "What makes us feel that they could be prepared as an offensive lineman? Well, look, I'm a big believer in the systems that they come from, as well, and I just raved about Boston College, and it's the same we feel about -- we have really good connections out at UW. Those guys are dialed in. I think the combination of their intelligence, the combination of their strength and athleticism, both of them in their own unique ways, of course, they're different athletes, of course, but that's what makes me feel like they're not just the average offensive linemen, and as Dan would attest to, and you can obviously climb on that, right, those guys, they were really, really impressive as a tandem for sure."

On the expectation as first rounders is for them to be starters – is that correct to say: 

DQ "Yeah, you would hope that every chance that you get to add to the team that through the competition, like the cream will rise to the top. Like, let's get out and battle. But yeah, we totally expect these guys to come in and make a major contribution to our team."

On what impressed them about Kaleb McGary when he visited:

DQ "I guess it was probably -- well, the scouts and the guys first at the school, then at the Senior Bowl, then at Indy, and then out at the trip to UW, that was a big factor, too, of spending the time with them there, and then when he came to here, that was more just the last piece that we wanted to finalize and make sure, okay, how are we going to get this guy on our team. There are so many conversations like in this draft tonight, there was a lot of guys we wanted on our team. When you have those visits when guys come in, they make an impression on you to say, okay, this is the right player at the right place in the right system, and when you can connect those dots, I think that sets up not only the team for the best success but for the player, as well, and you have a really clear vision of what they would do on your team. There are some really good players tonight that will go to the teams. Some will be the best fits for them and some won't be. That's just -- otherwise every pick would work out. It doesn't happen like that. So when you have ones that you know the style, the attitude, the skill level, the vision of how they can play, that fires you up as a coach and general manager."

On more guards going earlier is that a result of the pass rush: 

DQ "Yeah, at least pass rush for sure. We're throwing it more than ever, so I think the pass rush, sometimes you always just think of that outside, and there are some good rushers inside. But I think pass rush, in general, is a big part of it."

On whether two rookies could start this year: 

DQ "Well, we've done it before, so I think a couple of years ago we had Keke and Deion and Dre and some others, so the best guys will play. We certainly think these guys are coming in capable of producing that, but we're not going to put the cart before the horse. We're going to let this thing play out like it should, and that's what we'll do."

On guys sitting on the bench: 

TD "That's okay. We talked a lot about that, as well. We were not going to be hopefully in a position like we were last year with some of that situation happening. No one wants to talk about injuries, but we were really focused on making sure that that depth was right."

On whether there was an interest level with Christian Wilkins:

DQ "He's an awesome guy. He's going to do great in Miami."

TD "You know, again, as I said before, I don't want to contradict. We looked at it, of course, but then we decided we weren't going to do that."

On whether they eliminated Sweat because of his condition: 

TD "No."

On the workout with Chris Lindstrom, what stood out: 

DQ "Well, he had come back from another trip and had got in about 1:00 in the morning, and we knew he was coming in late and he was the first one at the building ready for us at 8:00 a.m. We took an early flight from here to meet him there. Maybe his -- he was getting in late, and he said, Coach, I didn't care if I got back at 6:00 a.m., I was going to be here. Like you knew how important it was for him to be here and to put out a show. Like hey, man, I want that opportunity there, where some guys might say, oh, man, I'm tired. Typical -- like college stuff, you know. Like I'm tired, late, an excuse for a workout. He came and got after it, and it was like, no, no, it doesn't matter. Anytime, anywhere. I thought that says a lot because he never once brought up that he was somewhere the day before, and we knew. And then at the workout -- I think what happened at the workout, a lot of times it just confirms what you know because it's kind of like going to Indianapolis, you don't select a guy based on just the workout. But it's kind of fun to make sure those meetings are a lot about making sure the fit is right, the connection is right, the player is right. Seeing him move and do the things, it allows you to have a really clear vision of what he's going to do on your team, so I think there were a lot of things on that workout when we left that day, we're going from there to another school, and we said, man, that was impressive. In the classroom, you challenge him, put some plays in, come back, teach what you did here, now go out on the field. Like you try to stress him out and see who can perform under pressure and see how that goes, and any little way you apply pressure here's a private workout with the head coach, general manager, line coach, testing you and quizzing you and saying, like, I'm going for it. So you see that a lot, and you see it some of the other ways, too, and it doesn't work out."

TD "And he was a very resilient guy, stressing in the proper way, whether it was our drills or whether it was putting the mental stress on him."

DQ "Yeah, more mental really than anything. You can't get that physical with a bag."

TD "But we've talked about that, too. We need to make sure those guys that are coming in, and especially the young guys, that they're resilient and they're going to get knocked around physically, literally and figuratively speaking, whatever it is. They have to be resilient enough."

DQ "Playing in the trenches your first year is challenging and you've got to be ready to battle in all sorts of ways, and these two guys fit those traits."

On whether in the past giving yourself the opportunity to have the numbers to move around in free agency: 

TD "I think over the past we've been focused on making sure that we were building a supporting cast for Matt over the years for sure and some of the other positions where we're looking for speed and athleticism. We realized and I have realized over the years that we want to continue to protect and make sure that Matt is in a really good place and protect it properly, and quite honestly it's not just pass protection, it's making sure that we're able to thrive in the run game, and that's important for us. We're not going to be the team we need to be if we're not moving people around and operating well on the O-line."

On whether they were comfortable with Kaleb McGary’s procedures: 

TD "Yes, we were."

On tomorrow off: 

DQ "Tomorrow off? Have you read his (TD) scouting report in the past? I wouldn't sleep on the guy, you know. We're not just having a pool party here."

On whether it’s important to get back in for tomorrow: 

TD "Yeah, it's important to look at it and see if it works. If it doesn't, of course, we have some really -- we think we have some really interesting people that are in the four, five, six, seven areas for us. Again, with all of our scenarios, we're really dialed in on where we want to go."

DQ "We're going to take advantage of these picks. We've got a bunch of them, whether we pick them all or move up to go. Man, we're pumped to get rolling. This weekend is just starting. We've got much work to do and lots to add, and we couldn't be more excited about that."

On any familiarity in your careers with two rookies starting on the offensive line: 

DQ "I've had it once before, yeah. I've been on a team, yep."

TD "I haven't necessarily been around two offensive linemen like this that possess what they possess right now, so I wouldn't be able to speak to that."

About the Author

Editors' Picks