On the first day of media availability for the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine, we got to hear from both Dan Quinn and Thomas Dimitroff. As is often the case, there wasn’t a lot of newsworthy tidbits to come of those talks, but there’s enough to round up.
Quinn dropped one interesting bit about the secondary and talked a lot about the Super Bowl, while Dimitroff was more freewheeling and wide-ranging in his comments, as you’ll see.
Quinn started things off by talking about the Falcons’ Super Bowl loss, which he said he believes will only make the team better. He referred to the Falcons as a team on the rise, and said you “don’t get over it,” but do have to “get past it.”
Dan Quinn said Brian Poole will be considered for depth at free safety— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) March 1, 2017
This is something we’ve all talked about as a possibility, and it looks like we might get it. Poole is a very physical cornerback who impressed during his rookie season, but he does have some limitations in coverage that might make him a better safety over the long haul. Whether he’d be competing with Ricardo Allen or simply backing him up remains to be seen, though I’d bet on the latter.
This is useful chiefly because it tells us exactly when Dan Quinn took over the defense, and allows us to benchmark their results after that. With a couple of exceptions, pretty good!
Quinn is expected to maintain control of defensive play calling with new defensive coordinator Marquand Manuel, so we’ll see if he can sustain the team’s improved pace, especially with improved players.
Thomas Dimitroff said he likes the depth of this year's draft pic.twitter.com/H3JQfU6bPS— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) March 1, 2017
Look, it’s an obvious, generic statement. Dimitroff also said he really likes the defensive line and pass rusher group, which is more relevant. He said most teams look to have “1, 2, and 3 quality pass rushers,” which may be a strong clue about the team’s intentions in the first couple of rounds this April.
"Looking to continue to build in the trenches on all sides" says Dimitroff— The Falcoholic (@TheFalcoholic) March 1, 2017
He also talked about the importance of building up the offensive line. The Falcons were not necessarily focused on the lines when Mike Smith and Dimitroff were working together in Atlanta, but with a couple of weaknesses there and Dan Quinn’s focus on #physical football, you should expect this offseason to revolve around the offensive line, defensive tackles, and defensive ends.
Dimitroff says you can acquire a third RB who moves up and eventually becomes #1 RB. File that one away— The Falcoholic (@TheFalcoholic) March 1, 2017
You shouldn’t read too much into this—Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman are both terrific players who should be here a long while—but it’s one of those intriguing comments that might become relevant down the line. The Falcons could very well use a late round pick on a running back in a class with some very intriguing players promising to be there at the end, and they’re not necessarily going to hand Freeman and Coleman both long-term deals.
Thomas Dimitroff said Taylor Gabriel and Ben Garland will be tendered as RFAs. Didn't say what level.— vaughn mcclure (@vxmcclure23) March 1, 2017
As anticipated, though the levels are the most important part of this. The Falcons, if they tender either player at the lowest level, could lose Gabriel and/or Garland, so they’ll need to play their cards well. Gabriel would almost certainly receive other offers at that level based on his 2016 production, while Garland would be more likely to stick. Gabriel would likely return as the team’s third receiver, while Garland would be the backup center and part-time defensive tackle we came to know and love last season.
He also talked about Matt Ryan’s comfort level (high, thanks to the offensive line), his confidence in the direction of the team (very high), and which free agents the team would like to re-sign, which we rounded up elsewhere.