- Vaughn McClure, ESPN Staff Writer
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MOBILE, Ala. -- Atlanta Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff showed he wasn’t afraid to trade up to secure a coveted player when he surrendered five draft picks for game-changing receiver Julio Jones in 2011.
Could Dimitroff do the same in this year’s draft if he believes the Falcons are unable to grab the player they want with the sixth overall pick? When asked about the subject, he sounded open to the idea, as is typically his philosophy.
"I think anyone who is worth their position in this league as a team-builder who’s not open to considering moving back or moving up, to me, is short-selling themselves because that’s what the draft is about," Dimitroff said. "That’s what the activity, the exercise is about: it’s capitalizing on what is right for our organization, what is going to make our organization the best.
"If we deem on draft day that we think it’s best to move back and gain picks or move forward and land someone else, we will always consider that. I’ve said that time and again. I always want us, as an organization – me as a general manager and us as an organization – to be perceived as a group to pick up and call and make the offer and at least know that we’re open to discussion."
St. Louis Rams general manager Les Snead, who worked under Dimitroff in Atlanta, obviously comes from the same school of thought. Such would explain why Snead expressed a willingness to listen to offers for this year’s No. 2 overall pick, although Snead cautioned how such willingness doesn’t necessarily guarantee a deal will be made.
In terms of the Falcons having any interest in trading up to No. 2, much might depend on whether Dimitroff and his staff fall in love with a player such as South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who seems unlikely to fall out of the top 5. Dimitroff has praised Clowney, just like he has a variety of the top college prospects along the offensive and defensive lines. Not to mention Dimitroff sees no issue with the speeding tickets Clowney has picked up.
"No," Dimitroff said when asked if Clowney’s tickets were a red flag. "When you’re talking about serious character issues and illegalities that pull at the fabric of the team, that’s where you run into a situation that you need to truly research. They are many things out there that can fall into that questionable category."
None of this means Dimitroff will trade up for Clowney or any other player. So much depends on how the Falcons address their needs in free agency. Then they can worry about the draft.
As of today, the Falcons have a pick in all seven rounds.
"In the end," Dimitroff said, "my feeling has always been this: As a general manager, you never want to have the reputation for being the guy that another general manager is looking down the phone list and they see a name and see a team and say, 'Nah.' You never want to be that team. You always want to be the team that people are interested in giving a call because it may be an opportunity."
2dDan Graziano and Adam Caplan