Draft week 2019 is here! The Atlanta Falcons have been on the clock since January and despite the hundreds of mock drafts at our disposal, we still have no idea what direction that general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn are leaning.
Every year though, the same question pops up – best available or biggest need? Many times, the two do not align, especially for those outside the top 10. Dimitroff recently told Atlanta Falcons in house reporter Kelsey Conway that best available trumps needs.
"“Of course, we’re needs based [but with] that said, we’re not just going to go after someone because we need that position,” Dimitroff said. “We need to make sure that talent is matching what is on the board. We’ll never just randomly pick someone because we need a defensive end or whatever position. That’s not going to be the way it is.”"
There are times when need and pick fall into place. Matt Ryan taken third overall in 2008 was the right pick at the right place. Many will disagree, but Vic Beasley taken at eight in 2015 was a needs based pick that also ended up being the best player available.
However, how truthful is Dimitroff being when he says “We’ll never just randomly pick someone because we need a defensive end or whatever position”? Did he randomly select Peria Jerry in 2009 instead of drafting Clay Matthews? In 2012 was Peter Konz the highest rated player on the board when the Falcons made their first pick late in the second round? One would argue that Russell Wilson and Olivier Vernon were rated higher on the board by every team. Thomas Dimitroff has had too many busts over his 11 previous drafts to not question his overall draft philosophy.
Thomas Dimitroff is correct when he says that the talent has to match with what is on the board. In 2016, the Falcons loved Kaenu Neal and chose to take him higher than fans wanted – his talent clearly reflected his draft slot; the same can be said for Deion Jones, who looks like the biggest steal of 2016.
Having a draft philosophy is great and every general manager and head coach should have one and the successful duo’s have draft philosophy’s that align. Heading into their fifth draft together, Dimitroff and Quinn seem to be on the same page.
Let’s hope 2019 mirror’s 2016 from both the drafted talent and on the field results. Thursday night in Nashville should be a lot of fun for many reasons. Buckle your seat-belts, it’s going to be a fun fast week!