Scott Pioli's work with the Falcons thus far has been quiet, but there's a sense that he wields considerable clout behind the scenes. That sense is only growing as he comes off of back-to-back reasonably strong offseasons, and Jason La Canfora at CBS Sports has named him the most influential figure on the Falcons right now.
Scott Pioli, assistant general manager: Pioli has clearly grown on owner Arthur Blank and assumed more power in this organization, while his close buddy, general manager Thomas Dimitroff, has faced inquiries about his job security. People will keep a close eye on their relationship and in the meantime, regardless of awkwardly worded press releases and weird press conferences, many believe Pioli could be calling the shots there in the near future. Blank is going to want major progress from a team stuck in a two-year funk, and some wonder if Pioli will be the survivor, especially at a time when team president Rick McKay is serving an NFL suspension for the illegal pumping in of crowd noise.
We can reasonably infer that La Canfora has a little more information that the bulk of us yahoos, but that even he doesn't have a great grasp on front office dynamics. It's obvious that Thomas Dimitroff had some of his scouting responsibilities wrested away that those responsibilities went to Pioli, a man who isn't great at public relations but has shown a strong acumen for player acquisition. That's why the team put him in a non-public role that focuses heavily on working up players before they're drafted or signed, and it's a role he's consistently thrived in. There's little point in denying that Pioli has a major role in the front office, and is by extension one of the more influential men around the team right now.
That said, I'm going to disagree pretty strongly with this, no matter how much power he's building behind the scenes. Dan Quinn is coming in as a new, highly-touted head coach with the power to choose his roster, Arthur Blank remains one of the most quietly influential and hands-on owners in the NFL and there are some high-profile players lurking around the margins here. If Pioli becomes the full-on general manager in a year or two he'll deserve every ounce of hype that moves would receive, but until that moment, there are more worthy choices for most influential Falcons.
What say you?