When it comes to roster assembly in the NFL, New England has been the gold standard for the past decade and a half. Parting ways with player a year early rather than a season too late or trading back in drafts to acquire picks have been trademarks that have been helpful to the Patriots winning five Super Bowls since 2001.
After just two seasons in Atlanta, Dan Quinn seems to have brought a positive draft-day acumen to the Falcons. Working together with general manager Thomas Dimitroff, Atlanta's war room has not only landed six starters in the last two drafts, but also four more players that logged significant minutes in 2016.
Their success in the draft has caught the eye of many around the league. NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock handed out praise Monday.
"Keep in mind, for instance, the Atlanta Falcons did an unbelievable job rebuilding their defense over a two-year period and almost winning a Super Bowl," said Mayock during a conference call previewing the 2017 NFL Draft. "It was based on a couple things. It was based on speed and toughness.
"For instance, they drafted that safety, Keanu Neal, and he set a tone. They drafted in the second round, Deion Jones, the linebacker from LSU who is one of the fastest linebackers who ever ran at the combine. And he had a great year. De'Vondre Campbell, who I think they took in the fourth or fifth round, again, tough guy that could run."
What brought out the praise? Someone asked Mayock about rebuilding the Lions' linebacker corps through the draft.
Two successful drafts and a trip to the Super Bowl, while a considerable start, shouldn't land this Falcons organization anywhere near New England in terms of conversations on building a team; a dynasty even. However, this much success in just two drafts shows that Dimitroff and Quinn are on well on their way toward making Atlanta's recent trip to Super Bowl LI – or at the least, deep playoff runs – something that could happen regularly, not once every 18 years.
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