Another piece of the puzzle that gets constantly overlooked is the Falcons drafting under Dimitroff over the past 4 or so drafts. In a good draft, you're going to find at least 3 starters in your 7 picks. Ideally, one of those starters (#1 pick) will be an "A-level" player, which is a guy that is a perennial Pro Bowl-caliber player, i.e. an impact player. They impact games on a weekly basis. Another starter (#2 pick) will be a "plus-starter" which is basically an above average starter. A player that is going to be an impact player from time to time, but more often than not he has a positive influence on your offense/defense and is rarely a liability. Then another starter will be a "C-level" player, which is a guy that is a solid starter. He probably wouldn't start on most teams around the league, but he is functional for your team and while he almost never has impact performances, he isn't an liability. Then ideally the majority of the remainder of your draft you will find "D-level" players which are role players that provide good value off the bench such as being good special teams players, solid backups, and if need be can be functional starters in a pinch.
An example of an A-level player is Sean Weatherspoon, Roddy White, and Matt Ryan. Curtis Lofton and William Moore would be a B-level players. And Thomas DeCoud, Corey Peters would be C-level players. D-level would include Jacquizz Rodgers, Matt Bosher, Harry Douglas.
But when you look at the Falcons drafts since 2009, they have not drafted well. Out of the 2009, the only player they got was William Moore. No one else outside him is anything more than a D-level player. There is hope that Sidbury can emerge as a C-level player but currently he's a D-level player. That is not a good draft. In 2010, Weatherspoon is an A so far, and while I'd consider Peters to be just an average starter, there is the hope/potential that he will improve this year and/or next to become a good B-level player. Johnson? Hawley? Franks? We're hoping that all 3 will become at least C-level players, but that remains to be seen. And if none of them do, then that is also not a good draft.
And you look at 2011, we all hope and believe Jones will at some point be that A+ level player, but what about the rest of the class? Dent, looks like a potential C guy. Rodgers has the potential to be more, but a lot depends on the scheme around him and it doesn't look like this team is ready to make that commitment. We hope Jackson and Matthews become D-level players in the future, but that's probably all they'll be.
And we look at this year's draft, we have high hopes for Konz being at least a B-level player. And we also hope that HOlmes, Massaquoi can at least be Cs. Ewing probably can only be a C. Robertson might surprise and become a C, but he and Mitchell are proabbly more likely to become Ds.
But even so, when all tallied up, Dimitroff's drafting over the past 4 drafts should have tallied at least 4 As, 4 Bs, 4 Cs, and probably 8 Ds.
But he only has 2 As (Weatherspoon and Jones). And even if you consider Konz, Peters, and Moore, you're still shy 1 B. And the fact of the matter is that in terms of Cs, we have zero currently. Again the hope is that players like Sidbury, Rodgers, Dent, Holmes, Massaquoi, Ewing, Franks might fill that void. But even if they all do, having 2 extra Cs, doesn't make up for missing 2 As and a B.
And because of the Jones trade, the margin for error has shrunk considerably for the Falcons. Between Dent, Holmes, Massaquoi, someone has to emerge and fill the void at least of being a B player. Peters has to continue to improve. Guys like Franks, Rodgers, and Sidbury have to be better players than what they are today.
You're right, we aren't an untalented team. But the talent level of this team has been significantly undermined because this team's drafting has been pretty mundane.
The only good draft Dimitroff has had since being here in Atlanta is 2008, when they got an A (Ryan), B (Lofton), C (DeCoud), and between Baker, Douglas, and Biermann got either C/D/D or C/C/D depending on your preference.
You compare that to say Ted Thompson with the Packers, and you see between 2005 and 2009, they got 4 As (Rodgers, Jennings, Nick Collins, and Matthews), 5 Bs (Raji, Sitton, Finley, Hawk, and Jordy Nelson), and 7 Cs (TJ Lang, James Jones, Desmond Bishop, Colledge, Jason Spitz, Poppinga, Johnny Jolly). And that level of drafting coupled with being able to mine undrafted talent like Tramon Williams (B-level player), Ryan Grant (C), and Atari Bigby (C) is IMHO a huge reason why the Packers won a championship in 2010.
And again, we are not untalented, but the talent level of this team is not nearly as much as people think it is. Most of the talent that TD has gotten has come via free agency. And everybody knows that there is not a strong correlation between "winning" in free agency and winning championships. The correlation comes from drafting. Because if you're lucky, you might get 2, 3, maybe 4 good years out of a free agent. But if you draft well, you can get 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, or 10 years from a drafted player.
The "Process" understands that it is smarter and better to build to be strong for 5-10 years as opposed to be strong for 2-3 years. But the Falcons quickly abandoned that process after 2010, just like they did after 2004, and the results aren't going to be substantially different in terms of that Trophy Case in Flowery Branch is going to remain empty.
And TD deserves some credit for that.
Sure, some credit. But I give most of that credit (if it were to happen) to Mike Smith being a good enough coach that the team won't implode like it did in 2003 and 2007.
I don't think TD is a bad GM. But I think gets a lot more leeway and essentially is given a pass because he will always be measured against 2007 and the preceding mediocrity/ineptitude. And up until 2010, I too gave him that pass. But IMHO, at this point, everything he does has to be now compared with 2010. At a certain point, he cannot be allowed to rest on those laurels.
If Dimitroff is a good/great GM then he must be held to that
standard. He has to be compared with other good/great GMs, as opposed to constantly being compared to average/mediocre ones. And if he cannot live up to that higher standard, then he should not be viewed as a good/great GM.