Atlanta Falcons: Grading All of Thomas Dimitroff’s Draft Class

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Sep 7, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) is introduced before their game against the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons won 37-34 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports


Round 1 (pick 3): QB Matt Ryan

Round 1 (pick 21): OT Sam Baker

Round 2 (pick 37): LB Curtis Lofton

Round 3 (pick 68): LB Chevis Jackson

Round 3 (pick 84): WR Harry Douglas

Round 3 (pick 98): S Thomas Decoud

Round 5 (pick 138): LB Robert James

Round 5 (pick 154): DE Kroy Biermann

Round 6 (pick 172): RB Thomas Brown

Round 7 (pick 212): CB Wily Fontenot

Round 7 (pick 232): TE Keith Zinger

The Good: In his first ever draft as the general manager, Thomas Dimitroff knocked it out of the park. Getting Matt Ryan with the 3rd overall pick was maybe his greatest move ever as a football executive. Some fans may look at this as a no brainer pick, but it was far from that in 2008: many experts questioned Ryan’s accuracy (he had just thrown 17 interceptions in his final year at Boston College), and thought that Glenn Dorsey, the defensive end out of LSU, was the right pick for Dimitroff to make. TD chose to go with the quarterback out of Boston College however, and its payed dividends: Ryan is arguably a top 5 QB in the NFL right now, while Dorsey flamed out in Kansas City and is currently on injured reserve for the 49ers. Dimitroff rolled the dice on Matt Ryan, and the rest was history. And It wasn’t just Matt Ryan that made this draft so special for the Falcons. Curtis Lofton, Kroy Biermann, Thomas Decoud, Harry Douglas, and Sam Baker ended up being key contributors for a number of years. Biermann, Douglas, Baker, and Ryan are all currently starters for the Falcons today (even though Baker is on IR, he would be starting if he was healthy), while Lofton led the team in tackles for a number of years before leaving (going to the dreaded Saints), and Decoud made the pro bowl in 2012 but ended up getting subsequently cut this past offseason due to his poor tackling abilities.

The Bad: The later rounds of the draft are a crap shoot, so unless you criticize Dimitroff for not getting world class talent in these rounds (which you shouldn’t), then there are really only minimal negatives you could get from his performance in his first ever draft calling the shots. Chevis Jackson flamed out pretty quickly, but he was drafted in the 3rd round, and the other two players the Falcons took in that round ended up being pretty good (Lofton and Decoud). The main criticism is that Dimitroff traded back into the first round to take Sam Baker. Baker’s been solid, but he’s had issues being consistent and hasn’t been able to stay on the field since signing a new contract (missing a total of 28 games combined this year and last year): not worth the first rounder.

Grade: A Despite the fact that Sam Baker wasn’t a player worthy of a first round pick, this was an excellent draft. Baker’s been solid enough for the Falcons to be a starter throughout his career, and it’s certainly understandable why Dimitroff traded up to get him: as there were five tackles taken between the 12th and 19th picks and the Falcons needed a body guard for their new quarterback. However, the fact that Baker has failed to live up to his first round price tag is the reason Dimitroff didn’t get the A+. Drafting Matt Ryan deserves the highest praise, as he’s gone on to become the best quarterback in franchise history, and has quickly made fans forget about Michael Vick. Lofton, Decoud, Douglas, and Bierman also ended up being excellent draft picks and key contributors for the team at one time or another. TD gets a very good grade for one of Atlanta’s best draft classes ever.