Assistant general manager Scott Pioli has resigned from his position with the Atlanta Falcons to pursue other opportunities. This is concerning, as the team’s draft turnaround began when Pioli was hired.
Many fans of the Atlanta Falcons credit Dan Quinn’s arrival, for the Atlanta Falcons drafting better over the last five drafts. Quinn certainly does deserve some of that credit, as the man who has final say on the 53 man roster after training camp. However I believe that Scott Pioli was the main reason for the draft turnaround. He oversaw the scouting department and helped change the Falcons’ scouting processes. He was also instrumental in helping Atlanta build their draft board over the last six drafts.
Front Seven Selections Pre Pioli
Prior to 2014, general manager Thomas Dimitroff had earned a reputation for being great a picking skill position players. Oh the other hand, his reputation was equally as bad at picking offensive linemen and front seven players on defense. Upon his arrival in Atlanta in 2008, coming over from the New England Patriots, Dimitroff hit a home run by using his initial first round pick on quarterback Matt Ryan. His first defensive pick was didn’t work out nearly as well, with Curtis Lofton being selected in round two. Lofton was a solid run defender and starter for Atlanta, but he struggled mightily in coverage and was allowed to leave as free agent, when his contract expired. He has not played a down of football since 2015. 2009 marked the first time Dimitroff used a first found pick on defense. He took defensive tackle Peria Jerry from Ole Miss. Jerry never made an impact and he retired in 2014, during the team’s appearance on HBO’s Hard Knocks. Every episode of Hard Knocks, featuring the Atlanta Falcons 2014 Training Camp, can be found by clicking this atlantafalcons.com link.
In 2010 Thomas Dimitroff selected Sean Weatherspoon in round one and Corey Peters in round three. Spoon was a good player who brought leadership and enthusiasm, but he never achieved greatness. Injuries have taken their toll on him and he’s likely already played his last down of NFL football. Peters was solid but unspectacular and is now a starter for the Arizona Cardinals, a team that seems to often scoop up former Falcons. Moving to 2011, Akeem Dent was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in the third round. He was a popular pick, as he is still the only Georgia Bulldogs player drafted by Dimitroff. However he was too slow to be a starting NFL linebacker. Dent last played for the Houston Texans in 2015.