Plenty of rumors swirled in the hours leading up to Thursday’s first round and they continued once the draft began. As names came off the board, it appeared the Falcons had numerous options, including a trade up, but as the sixth pick rolled around, general manager Thomas Dimitroff stayed put and was rewarded with the offensive tackle his team needed.
“We were very pleased to have Jake there in our sights,” Dimitroff said. “We were watching him all along. We are over-the-top excited to have him join this football team from a number of different standpoints.”
Dimitroff said a number of attempts were made to trade, even after their first pick. He specifically said they attempted to trade back into the first round, for a target he wouldn’t specify. Staying at six, getting Matthews and keeping their second-round pick are events that some didn’t expect to happen, but Dimitroff said he’s pleased with where his draft is at this point and trades won’t occur unless there’s a point.
“It’s a good feeling,” the GM said. “What we said all along is we are not trading just to trade. We’ve been aggressive in past drafts to go after people and we played this out very well. I thought we were patient and we didn’t jump just to jump, for the sake of jumping. We’re not a team that is going to go around trading just to trade.”
Much of Atlanta’s plan hasn’t been a secret this offseason. They’ve committed to beefing up the trenches and that effort continued with the Matthews selection. Falcons head coach Mike Smith said Matthews will be able to do everything asked of him on the right side of the line.
“The offseason emphasis has been on winning the line of scrimmage,” Smith said. “As we calibrated our roster for this season, that’s been an emphasis point and it’s continued to be an emphasis point in the first round of the draft. We got a really good football player that’s going to be able to not only protect our quarterback, but he’s also going to be able to win the line of scrimmage in the running game.”