FLOWERY BRANCH – Since 2008, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has made a trade in all seven of his drafts with the franchise.
He's made big trade, middle-round trade and late-round trades. His mega-deal was the 2011 trade to slide up 21 spots to grab wide receiver Julio Jones with the Cleveland Browns. The deal helped the Falcons nearly reach the Super Bowl in the 2012 season.
So it shouldn't be a surprise that the Falcons will consider trading up to try and land Florida defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., who was recruited by head coach Dan Quinn and played two seasons for him in Gainesville, Fla.
Dimitroff said the franchise is considering all of their options.
“There is a lot of discussions already about moving both ways with a lot of our peers in the league,” Dimitroff said. “A lot of it has to do with what goes down with the top three picks. That’s going to set the tone for how much movement there is into the top 10 and even in the top five.”
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston and Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota are expected to be selected first and second. USC’s defensive lineman Leonard Williams, who some consider the best player in the draft, could go third to Jacksonville.
In the No. 4 slot, the Oakland Raiders are open for trading business.
Ironically, Dimitroff and Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie, a Ron Wolf disciple from Green Bay, were the finalists for the Atlanta job back in 2008. They have not business before.
“My phone line is always open,” McKenzie said in his pre-draft press conference. “You hear everybody out. If it makes sense and it’s going to help the Raiders, we’ll do a deal.”
Jacksonville general manager Dave Caldwell worked under Dimitroff in Atlanta from 2008 to 2012.
Now, the Falcons could trade back and amass picks and presumably land two first-round picks if their coveted edge rusher is not available in the eight position.
After Fowler, Clemson’s Vic Beasley, Kentucky’s Bud Dupree and Missouri’s Shane Ray are the top edge rushers.
Quinn didn’t sound too interested in Nebraska’s Randy Gregory, who failed a drug test at the NFL scouting combine, when discussing the importance of character and team chemistry.
“For us to be really good, this team has to be tight,” Quinn said. “Those guys have to connect. … It’s such a wide topic, off the field concerns, where some people, some clubs may do it differently, but for us, how tight and close can this team get? Bringing in great teammates into our locker room is really important to me.”
Last season, the Falcons sent the team’s sixth (182 overall) and one of their three seventh-round picks (220) to the Minnesota Vikings for a fifth-round pick. The pick was used to select Syracuse linebacker Marquis Spruill, who missed last season with a knee injury.
The Falcons were also looking to trade for a late first-round pick, but their intended targets went too high.
They had an eye on Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier, but realized early that too many teams wanted him, and it would cost too much to move up high enough. He was selected by Pittsburgh with the 15th pick.
The Falcons’ attention then shifted to Auburn defensive end Dee Ford, who didn’t slip into their range. Ford was selected by Kansas City with the 23rd pick.
“We worked hard at it, and you have to have a dance partner,” Dimitroff said last year. “In the end, we didn’t (trade) at the spots that we were interested in.”
Here’s a look at Dimitroff’s trading record:
- 2014: The Falcons traded their sixth-round pick (182 overall) and one of their three seventh-round picks (220) for the Vikings’ fifth-round pick (168). They selected Syracuse linebacker Marquis Spruill with the pick.
- 2013: The Falcons traded up from 30 to 22 in the first-round to land cornerback Desmond Trufant. The Falcons traded with the St. Louis Rams They gave up a third and a sixth round pick. In the fifth round, the Falcons traded up 10 picks to get TCU defensive end Stansly Maponga. They sent a seventh-round pick (236) to the Chicago Bears.
- 2012: The Falcons made a trade with Baltimore to move down seven spots in the third round to take tackle Lamar Holmes. They picked up a fifth round pick and selected defensive end Jonathan Massaquoi with the 164th overall pick. The Ravens picked up running back Bernard Pierce with the 84th pick the Falcons sent them. The Falcons gave up a seventh rounder (229 overall) to the Eagles in the Asante Samuel trade. The Eagles used that pick to select running back Bryce Brown.
- 2011: There was the 5-for-1 mega-deal with Cleveland to move up 21 spots in order to land wide receiver Julio Jones. Later, in the fifth round after the spotlight was off the Falcons, he sent two picks to St. Louis in order to move up 10 spots to scoop up running back Jacquizz Rodgers.
- 2010: Oklahoma cornerback Dominique Franks, who left school a year early, was slipping in the draft. Dimitroff sent two picks to St. Louis to move up 14 spots to acquire Franks.
- 2009: Dimitroff felt he could get his guy by going back 13 spots in the fifth round. The Falcons made a deal to send their fifth-round pick to Dallas. They moved back 13 spots and picked up a seventh-round pick for their troubles. They drafted offensive lineman Garrett Reynolds in the fifth and Vance Walker in the seventh.
- 2008: There was a run on left tackles. With the Falcons needing protection for Matt Ryan, Dimitroff sent two second-round picks and a fourth-round pick to Washington in order to move back into the first round and pick Sam Baker with the 21st overall pick. They also received third- and fifth-round picks. The Falcons used those picks to select wide receiver Harry Douglas (84th overall) and defensive end Kroy Biermann (154th).
FALCONS DRAFT BOARD
ATLANTA FALCONS 2015 DRAFT PICKS
First round: 8th overall selection
Second round: 42nd overall selection
Third round: 73rd overall selection
Fourth round: 107th overall selection
Fifth round: 146th overall selection
Sixth round: 185th overall selection
Seventh round: 225th overall selection
Seventh round: 249th overall selection*
*Pick is from New England through St. Louis
POSITION-BY-POSITION FOR 2015 NFL DRAFT
Wednesday: Top 5 Inside Linebackers
Thursday: Top 5 defensive tackles
Friday: Top 5 defensive backs
Saturday: Top 5 special teamers
Monday: Top 5 Offensive line
Tuesday: Top 5 Wide receivers
Wednesday, April 22: Top 5 Running backs
Thursday, April 23: Top 5 Quarterbacks
Friday, April 24: Top 5 Tight ends