After dominating the NFC playoff field, Atlanta added to an already strong talent base with veteran nose tackle Dontari Poe joining early-round draft picks in edge rusher Takk McKinley and linebacker Duke Riley.
The Falcons’ 2017 prospects are so encouraging, in fact, that general manager Thomas Dimitroff expects to boast his strongest roster in a decade with the organization.
Appearing on The MMQB Podcast with Albert Breer last week, Dimitroff was asked where this year’s squad stacks up to his previous nine editions.
“I think we are at a spot right now that, quite honestly, is the most talented overall,” Dimitroff crowed. “… As a whole group, I’m wildly excited about where we are. It’s just a well-rounded group.”
Under the leadership of Dimitroff and fast-rising head coach Dan Quinn, the Falcons not only draft for speed, explosiveness and urgent athleticism, but also place a heavy emphasis on competitive toughness, complete with a “CT” grade for each prospect.
“I think it’s being reflected with the players on the field,” Dimitroff explained “… I think it’s showing in the type of players we have with the resiliency, the focus and there’s just an element of competitiveness that I think helps us not look at the past and to look forward.”
Whereas pundits and casual football observers are predicting a regression to the mean this season, Dimitroff paints a decidedly more optimistic picture inside Falcons headquarters.
“They know that there’s talent here. They are excited about the energy in the locker room as well as within our fanbase,” Dimitroff said. “Everyone’s really excited. No one is thinking about what if we don’t rise to the occasion. This team really believes in itself. They continue to get more and more confidence and swagger.”
Although last year’s injury-ravaged Carolina outfit finished a disappointing 6-10, the 2016 Panthers stand as the exception rather than the rule for Super Bowl losers. Since 2008, runners-up have combined to finish 95-49 (.660) the next season, with eight of those nine clubs notching double-digit victories.