After a month-long stretch of breaking down previous drafts, this will be my final recap of Thomas Dimitroff as a draft evaluator. It will be more of a remembrance through 2008 to 2012. In case you missed any of the breakdowns of the five drafts, they will be posted below, along with the final tally of Dimitroff's success with selecting productive players in the 2012 edition. Here are the most notable picks through rankings between 2008-2012.
Best 1st round pick: Matt Ryan
Ryan edges Julio Jones based on position importance. Quarterback is obviously the most important position in the sport. Let's take into account that Jones' durability has been questionable, along with Dimitroff having to make an actual personnel decision with Ryan.
Jones was always the clear pick when they traded up in the 2011 draft. Many believed that Glenn Dorsey was going to be selected with the third pick. The decision to draft Ryan propelled Atlanta into a perennial playoff team from 2008 to 2012.
Worst 1st round pick: Peria Jerry
This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. While Dimitroff attempted to address a need here, Jerry never lived up to expectations and was pushed around far too often. The explosiveness that Jerry possessed in college vanished in his NFL career.
Best 2nd round pick: William Moore
Another easy choice in selecting a true defensive leader. Moore developed into a enforcer that the secondary solely needed in 2009. His production contributed in healing the wounds of Jerry being an disappointment (to an extent) from that draft class.
Worst 2nd round pick: Peter Konz
The selection of Konz over Lavonte David will always be difficult to digest for the Falcon fan-base. The former Wisconsin Badger needed to improve on his upper body strength according to several analysts. Ironically enough, this pick was brought with great approval at the time. After being overmatched throughout 2013 and injured in 2014, Konz will be competing for a roster spot this season.
Best 3rd round pick: Corey Peters
Peters edges Thomas DeCoud and Harry Douglas because of consistency. Despite being limited as a pass rusher, Peters was reliable and proved to be an excellent run defender. His growth helped the organization recover from Jerry's poor play, then they didn't re-sign him for no particular reason. Quality defensive tackles that don't command a hefty price tag should be valued more. It's a shame that Peters was never valued as a priority.
Worst 3rd round pick: Akeem Dent
The toughest decision out of all these rankings. Dent edges Lamar Holmes for position importance. Holmes was never viewed as a future starting left tackle. Sam Baker was "paid" to start at left tackle for the long-term. That didn't translate well, which led to Jake Matthews being selected in the first round. Nobody can make an compelling argument that right tackle should be valued higher than middle linebacker.
Curtis Lofton wasn't re-signed through mainly being a two-down linebacker. The coaching staff positioned Dent to take command of the opening position. Similar to Holmes, Dent was outplayed by an undrafted free agent in Paul Worrilow. Another difference between Dent and Holmes comes from the competition at their respective positions. Ryan Schraeder has proven to have great upside, while the jury is still out on Worrilow and his shortcomings.
Best late-round pick: Kroy Biermann
Jacquizz Rodgers was heavily considered, but it comes down to longevity. Both players have proven to be effective in a limited capacity. They've also been exposed when positioned in a full-time role. Rodgers has stepped up in big games with memorable plays. That doesn't eliminate the several weeks of him being mostly anonymous.
Biermann isn't exactly a human highlight-reel, albeit that incredible interception against Cleveland in 2010. He is a versatile player that has evolved into a much better run defender. This pick is an absolute toss-up in determining what pick was actually more significant for the team. Biermann has the slight edge for longevity in being serviceable from 2008-2012 and second-half of the 2014 season. As agonizing as his play was early on, his play generally improved through the last eight weeks of the season. Don't forget how well he played in 2012 either.
The "barely can find him on Google" pick: Thomas Brown
Georgia Bulldog fans are going to be upset with this one. Brown was relatively forgettable from the stacked 2008 draft class. It was extremely difficult to find a biography of his college career. When remembering the late round of the 2008 draft, Keith Zinger is memorable for simply his name and Robert James for always being on the inactive list.
Brown was someone that I generally lost all recollection of as a player. As someone who can talk about "memorable Falcons" like Dez White and Lewis Sanders, I'm pretty well-equipped in remembering and breaking down forgettable players. It's a shame that Brown was never given a real opportunity. Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood were the main running back rotation through 2008.
The past, present, and future for Dimitroff
When building a team, addressing needs is always a priority. Dimitroff attempted to do that for the most part on a yearly basis. After being last in the league in 20-yard plays in 2010, Jones was drafted. Following the playoff loss to the New York Giants, Konz and Holmes were drafted to upgrade a shaky offensive line. The results were mixed following these decisions. What deteriorated Dimitroff's reputation was his inability to select a productive pass rusher.
After seven years of not selecting one pass rusher in the first three rounds of any draft, the fan base is fed up with seeing opposing quarterbacks sitting in the pocket without any concern. Other issues pertain to the lack of wide receiver depth, which has been ignored for years. How Ryan had to rely on the likes of Kevin Cone and Drew Davis during the lost 2013 season was baffling. The inability to recognize depth issues at linebacker was also detrimental in 2013.
What transpired in the 4-12 season doesn't happen to properly structured teams. After building a well-oiled machine for five winning seasons, the over-reliance on veterans as starters and poor drafting in the later drafts caught up to them. It will be pivotal to start making better decisions in the third round. Holmes, Dent, Chevis Jackson, and Mike Johnson showcase a list of poor third-round selections.
A better usage of mid-round picks and recognizing the lack of depth at certain positions would do wonders for Dimitroff's stock. It starts tomorrow night, where pass rusher has to be the first priority. After failing to land Derrick Morgan in free agency, a highly touted prospect is needed to reinvigorate a lackluster pass rush. Other needs such as running back, left guard, and middle linebacker will be important to address as well.
Free safety and wide receiver are also options on day two of the draft. Dimitroff is on the hot seat, yet should feel fortunate in this position. Atlanta has the weakest schedule in the league and a top ten pick. It's time for him to resurrect his brilliance from 2008-2010 or fade away like most of the regime has from 2012-2014.