Now that the initial free agency frenzy is out of the way and our thoughts are turning back towards the draft, there was one other change in Atlanta's scouting department that hasn't been widely covered. Atlanta's former national scout, Mark Olson, has moved on and joined the scouting department in Detroit.
On the surface, this is at best a sideways move for Olson. He was the most experienced member of Atlanta's college scouting team, having been with the franchise since 1998. Unfortunately, the changes in our front office and scouting department over the last two years had thrown extra speed bumps in his way towards advancement within the organization, which had in the past been big on promoting from within.
However, Detroit has a new GM this year in Bob Quinn, who had been in the Patriots personnel department for many years. Quinn worked in the same front office with Dimitroff and had particularly strong ties with Scott Pioli, so Olson had references that were sure to carry a lot of weight with the new Lions GM.
This is not the first time a senior member of Atlanta's scouting team has moved from one ex-Patriot to another. When Thomas Dimitroff first arrived in Flowery Branch, he knew he wanted to bring Caldwell on board as his Director of College Scouting. That meant replacing Phil Emery as Director, who handled the demotion with incredible professionalism. Emery's continued work impressed Dimitroff, leading to Dimitroff strongly recommending him to Pioli, who had just become the GM in Kansas City. Pioli hired Emery, and his work with the Chiefs led to his own stint as GM with the Bears. Somewhat ironically, Emery (who had been Olson's boss under GM Rich McKay) now returns to Atlanta and is filling Olson's role as a national scout.
Olson joins the Lions as a regional scout, but getting in with another front office adds to his network of professional contacts, broadening his opportunities for future advancement. From his time in Atlanta, he is already well known to Rams GM Les Snead, Jaguars GM David Caldwell, Dimitroff and Pioli in Atlanta, as well as other former and/or potential future GMs such as Tim Ruskell, Taylor Morton, DeJuan Polk, and Emery.
Now Bob Quinn and his current team in Detroit will also become part of Olson's professional network. And in this league, the more professional contacts and references you have, the better.
Please join me in thanking Mark Olson for his 18 years of service to the Falcons as a scouting assistant, pro scout, regional and national college scout, and to wish him tremendous success with the Lions.