Thomas Dimitroff has gained a reputation over the years as a man who loves to make a splash. At times, it seems like he can barely help himself – especially when it comes to the NFL Draft. In his seven drafts as the Atlanta Falcons general manager, Dimitroff has traded up in five of them. That’s right – FIVE. Trader Joe’s ain’t got shit on T.D.
Everyone remembers the trade of trades from 2011. The Falcons jumped up 21 spots in the draft to grab big-play receiver Julio Jones – a move that nearly took the team to a Super Bowl appearance in 2012. While it helped Atlanta in the short-term, the trade would devastate the franchise in the seasons to come. In order to acquire Julio, Dimitroff gave up 5 future draft picks – sacrificing depth and anything resembling an NFL defense for offensive “explosion”. The lack of early to mid-round draft picks in 2011 and 2012 caused a domino effect that turned a yearly contender into a cellar dweller, eventually leading to the dismissal of Mike Smith – Dimitroff’s first head coach hire and the most successful coach in Falcons history.
Fast forward to 2015. The Falcons have gone 10-22 over the past two seasons, but through some kind of black magic and probably a little witchcraft, Trader Tom has managed to keep his job as GM. Former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has also been brought in to replace Smith and help Dimitroff with the franchise’s resurrection. Entering his eight NFL Draft with the Atlanta Falcons, Dimitroff now has the chance to right the wrongs of drafts past. Given this opportunity, you would think that a general manager sitting on the hottest seat outside of Hell because of previous draft mistakes would begin to rethink his strategy – but according to D. Orlando Ledbetter of the AJC, Dimitroff may be up to his old tricks.
So it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Falcons will consider trading up to try and land Florida defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., who was recruited by head coach Dan Quinn and played two seasons for him in Gainesville, Fla.
The amount of anger I had to suppress while reading that column was spectacular. If this claim is true, it would be another insanely terrible decision by a man who has a doctorate in terrible decision-making.
While Dante Fowler, Jr. would be a spectacular addition to a Falcons defense that has been starving for a pass rush, there are just too many other options in this draft class with the potential to be just as good. The Falcons wouldn’t have to mortgage their entire future to move up a few spots to acquire Fowler, but they would have to give up at least their second round pick – and the Falcons are not in a position the be giving up anything. A matter of fact, Tommy boy would be better served by trading back in the first round in order to accumulate additional draft picks. Falling back a few spots in the draft would still allow the Falcons to select one of the top pass rushers, whether it is Vic Beasley or Bud Dupree. The extra pick(s) would also give Atlanta a better opportunity to draft additional game changers and build depth – two things that are absolutely crucial for this team to contend.
When it comes to the NFL Draft, success comes from accumulating draft picks, not squandering them. The extra picks drastically improve the chances of selecting a game changing superstar while adding depth and allowing a team to get away with drafting a few duds. If Thomas Dimitroff follows this model – the same one that is followed by all of the successful franchises in the league – he will be able to save his job and his legacy as the Falcons general manager. But if he keeps trying to make big splashes in the draft, he will learn that the pool eventually runs out of water.