As a prelude to the combine, Rich Eisen had Thomas Dimitroff on his podcast. Click on the link to take you to the episode. If you just want a quick re-cap here were the main takeaways….
– The Falcons had all of the scouts come in during December for days and talked about all of the players (comparing and contrasting). In February they did a position cross-check where each scout is given a position and is completely responsible for evaluating that position watching video of each player one against the other. They break-down top players, mid-round guys, late round guys and who they project as college free agents. Who has the best athleticism, who is the smartest, who has the most character issues? They have a roundtable with that scout, the regional scouts, Dimitroff and the personnel director. Starting mid-way through the season there is a lot of focus on their upcoming talent acquisition.
– TD is a big advocate of evaluating movement and athleticism due to this being a match-up league. During the combine he wants to see how their hips flex, how fast they are, how they jump, how explosive they are and how they adjust. That's very important as well as the interview process.
– The combine is the first chance to sit down and discuss issues and challenges with the upcoming class. Teams get up to 60 interviews if they choose (15 minutes at a time, Rich compares it to speed dating). The Falcons try to be more calculated with their choices of who to interview.
– This is TD's 24th or 25th combine.
– During the interviews, TD isn't trying to catch them in a lie (like some teams do). He'd rather tell them what the organization has on them and let them tell him about it. Doesn't like doing the "song and dance" and wasting time since they only have 15 minutes.
– TD says that Manti Te'o is on the Falcons board. Said that the Falcons were hoping to interview him at the combine (the interview is pre-combine).
– Rich asks about the Julio Jones trade and how much the combine factored into that decision. TD says he's a big advocate on the combine but the results won't necessarily rise a guy way up their board or way down as they really take the video they've watched up to that point into consideration. He considers the combine to be a supplement to what they already have on a player. He says that in Julio's case (with a broken foot) that his performance did factor into the decision.
– Rich asks about Tony Gonzalez. TD says he doesn't believe in the 95% that he is retiring. They would really like to have him back. When they did the trade they believed it would be for one or two years but now they are looking at a potential fifth year. He doesn't want to talk for Tony but TD thinks he is seriously contemplating coming back to the Falcons.
– Says in these situations you would like to have an agreement with the player that he is coming back (even if they had not decided on money) going into the combine and free agency. In order to cover the bases, the Falcons will go in and watch the tight ends closely, no doubt about it.
– TD says he did watch the Super Bowl (Arthur Blank had a get together) but only watched the last seven minutes very closely. Said the ending was very interesting. Rich hints at the non-call at the end of the NFC Championship Game. TD says things like that happen. Sometimes the calls are made, sometimes they aren't and hopefully it doesn't come down to one play that you are winning or losing a game. Gives kudos to Mike Smith for not complaining about it after the game.