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Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith Press Conference On Round 1 of 2014 NFL Draft

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Thomas Dimitroff at the NFL Combine. (Photo Credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images Sport)

Thomas Dimitroff at the NFL Combine. (Photo Credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images Sport)

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Rob Hamilton has spent the last 22 years in Broadcast Media across the...
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Opening Statement (Thomas Dimitroff):

“It was a long, eventful first round.  Sorry we kept you guys waiting so long, we were busy in a lot of different areas and here we are.  We’re just going to open it up for questions right now.”

On being happy with having Jake Matthews there for the sixth pick (Thomas Dimitroff):

“Yes, no question.  We were very pleased to have Jake Matthews there in our sights.  We were watching him all along and over the top excited about having him join this football team from a number of different standpoints.”

On getting the player you wanted without having to make a trade (Thomas Dimitroff):

“It is a good feeling. What we’ve said all along is we’re not just trading to trade.  We’ve been aggressive in past drafts to go after people and we played this out very well in my mind.  I thought we were patient and we didn’t jump just to jump for the sake of jumping.  We’re not just a team that is going to trade just for the sake of trading, so we’re happy.”

On getting bigger and stronger and also winning the line of scrimmage and if Jake fits that (Mike Smith):

“Absolutely, big, strong, football player that has a lot of experience.  Basically a four-year starter, 46 starts, playing in the SEC, playing against some very good football players.  He has a great skill set not only on the field but off the field.  He’s got great lineage, we all know his family background.  He has been in the NFL since the day he was born, so we are really excited about that.”

On how much it helps to grow up in the NFL (Thomas Dimitroff):

“Jake was born and raised to be a legitimate tackle in this football league and that is a really good thing.  That is something that we really focus on and that is something that you all know.  We’ve stressed the importance of drafting players who have a maturity level in this game and he is a very smart football player, he is a smart individual and he has been trained from the day he was young to play in this League at that position.  Again, we couldn’t be more excited to have him aligned at the right tackle spot.”

On projecting Sam Baker as left tackle for next year (Thomas Dimitroff):

“We are not projecting Sam, he is our left tackle.”

On the scouting report on his dad and if there are any similarities (Mike Smith):

“The scouting report has that thing that you don’t like to say when you are talking about an opponent, he is going to be a first ballot Hall of Famer, that basically kind of says it all.  His dad was an outstanding player, very intelligent, very athletic, and very smart.  His guy always was blocked, so we think Jake has a great skill set.  As Thomas said, he has been a part of this League since the day he was born, he knows it.  Last year our first round draft pick had two older brothers that played in the NFL.  I think they are mature beyond their years because they know what to expect.  When we get him here tomorrow he is going to know what to expect when we go out on the field on Monday.  He is going to be a good leader for the rest of the draft class, which by the way we are very excited about the next two days as well.”

On how many contingency plans they had in play (Thomas Dimitroff):

“Again, we were very active in a lot of discussions, up and down.  There had to be at least six of them, because there were six players we were really excited about to snap off the board at the sixth spot.   There were a lot.  We spent a lot of time up and down trying to decide on what was best for this football team.  We were very excited because our focus was to be on the offensive line and to get a guy, a player like Jake to come into this program is going to be very beneficial for us.”

On his first words to Jake when he spoke with him on the phone (Mike Smith):

“First words were congratulations, then I think Jake was in here a couple weeks ago and I asked him if he was ready for it to be over and I said I’m sure you’re glad its over, you know where you are going to be, and he sounded really excited about being an Atlanta Falcon and we are looking forward to spending some more time with him tomorrow and having you guys visit with him as well.”

On being happy with what Jake will bring to the offense (Mike Smith):

“Absolutely, the offseason emphasis has been on winning the line of scrimmage. I think as we calibrated our roster for this season, it’s been an emphasis point and has continued to be an emphasis point in the first round of the draft.  Again guys, we’ve got a really good football player that is not only going to be able to protect our quarterback but he is also going to be able to win the line of scrimmage in the running game.”

On how many phone calls they got asking if six was available (Thomas Dimitroff):

“Honestly, we took none which I thought was interesting.  As you can tell we waited, and that was the prudent thing to do, we waited till right around three or four minutes to see of interest, but we were focused on picking Jake.  We just wanted to make sure we exercised all options.  There wasn’t as much activity that way as I think people expected.”

On trying to dip back in the first round (Thomas Dimitroff):

“That is why you guys are still here right now to be honest with you.  Yes.  Smitty and I talked about that, I’m not being funny about that, that is honestly why you guys are here.  We worked hard at it and you have to have a dance partner and in the end we didn’t at the spots we were interested.”

On what positions they were interested (Thomas Dimitroff):

“I don’t really want to get into talking about the philosophy of it.  I’m sure you can project to way we may have continued to need help.”

On how Jake Matthews graded on his run blocking (Thomas Dimitroff):
“He’s a good run blocker. He’s got a good strong base, a good wide load about him. Very nice agility for his size, and he not only has the ability to come off the ball, but he has the ability to adjust properly and turn his butt to the hole and seal properly and move. He gets out the second level well. We’re really excited about his versatility as a player, and as we mentioned earlier the ability to play the right side is going to be good. He’s a versatile player that can play along the line as well in other places.”

On whether or not playing with a scrambling quarterback has prepared him for the next level (Thomas Dimitroff):
“Yeah, that’s a big thing. He experienced some really interesting situations there with Johnny (Manziel) for sure. I think he’s a really interesting individual when you guys get a chance to meet him because he is such a focused guy, and in his own way he’s got a really good toughness and grittiness about him. Knowing that he’s been raised in that setting for so long, as Mike had mentioned. This is what we needed to add to this offense line.”

On what is left of the safety position in the second round (Thomas Dimitroff):
“There are a number of safeties out there, it’s just a matter of how fast they go. They were projected to go right where they went in my mind. Mike and I talked a lot about that, where the secondary’s going. How many corners were there? I believe about eight. Eight defensive backs.”

On anything that struck them about Jake Matthews (Mike Smith):

“I think the maturity level was very evident when you had your first conversation with Jake. He’s a look in your eye, no nonsense guy. He understands the game of football and it’s very important to him, and I think that’s the thing that stood out to me. I will say, to Darryl’s question, the offense that they ran in college, you have to be an athletic guy because; one, the quarterback’s running all the time back there; and two, you don’t always know when the ball is snapped and where the ball is going to be run. They run the read option, so you have to do a very good job of not blocking one defender on the line scrimmage and getting up to the second level. So those are traits that you can really evaluate when you’re looking at that type of offense.”

On any tape that stood out to them (Mike Smith):

“When you’re playing in the SEC, I think you can watch just about every game and you’re going to see him going against top-caliber football players. There’s not a whole lot of easy games, maybe homecoming and one of the other early games in the season, rest of the time – if you’re at Texas A&M – you’re playing a pretty good schedule.”

On how the division shapes who they draft in the later rounds (Thomas Dimitroff):

“I think we were very mindful of our division. How we put our team together is very important. Obviously, if you can’t get out of your division, we all know what that means. So yes, it definitely affects our approach and how we’re going to continue to build the team.”

On whether their draft board is still intact going into the later rounds (Thomas Dimitroff):

Yeah, no question. We still have some very good football players on the board. It was interesting towards the back end of this round, how many teams were calling around trying to figure out what they were going to do, and in the end a lot of them just stayed put. So, that’s pretty consistent around the League, that there’s still some really solid football players, obviously many solid football players, but there’s a lot of solid football players that were being considered at the borderline of first and second round.”

On whether or not there are good pass rushers still available (Thomas Dimitroff):
“Yeah, I believe so. I believe there are a number of outside linebackers in this draft. I mean, it seems as though, they can continue to come up at all levels, in the middle of rounds. Seems like there was a run on the rushers.  I guess a couple of guys went at Dee Ford from Auburn went towards the back end of the first round. There are still some pass rushers I’m sure.”

On how far into the first round did you try and get back into (Thomas Dimitroff):
“We were making calls all the way probably into the early twenties.”

On whether or not they were asking for a lot (Thomas Dimitroff):
“No. No they weren’t, and I want to go on record here and say that Rick Smith wasn’t insultingly high, which is being reported. Houston was very mindful of how they approached their business and decided, obviously not to answer for them, but the League wasn’t like that. I think they were pretty mindful of what was going on across the board we went all the way through our discussions. I just think a lot of people were thinking about it, but in the end they didn’t make the moves, but for a handful of teams.”

On whether or not players will take shots at Jake because of his last name (Mike Smith):
“Absolutely. As a competitor, when you’re getting ready to play a game, whether it’s high school, or college you’re going against a good player you want to go out and give it your best shot. He got everybody’s best shot week in and week out, and I think a lot of it has to do with not only the way he plays, but the history of his family and how successful they’ve been in the NFL for 54 years. It goes way back.”

On how Matt Ryan felt about the pick (Mike Smith):
“I did not speak with Matt. As you can see we’ve been pretty busy after our pick. Thomas was working very hard. And as he said, it takes two to dance, and I felt like junior/senior prom, waiting on somebody for the damn dance. We weren’t getting the three letter answer, we were getting the two letter answer.”

On how long the day has been for them and what time will they get started tomorrow (Thomas Dimitroff):
“We’re going to reconvene following this presser for a little bit and then jump in early tomorrow morning and continue to discuss our approach, but we have our entire department up there both the personal department and the coaches. We’re going to be very involved together over the next couple of days.”

(Courtesy Atlanta Falcons / Matt Haley / Football Communications Coordinator)

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