CHARLES ODUM, AP Sports Writer
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has been testing the market for a possible NFL draft-day trade and said Wednesday he won’t be reluctant to make a deal.
Dimitroff’s record supports his claim. Atlanta has made at least one trade in each of Dimitroff’s six drafts.
“We don’t sit on our hands,” he said.
The Falcons have 10 picks, including the No. 6 overall selection, in next week’s draft.
Dimitroff said he has been gauging the trade market to clear the path for more detailed discussions during the draft.
“I’ve talked to many teams about many things and obviously trade situations come up,” Dimitroff said. “… I think the biggest thing is getting an idea what compensation would be if in fact something should ever come to fruition during the draft.”
Dimitroff moved up eight spots to select cornerback Desmond Trufant at No. 22 last year. His most famous deal came in 2011 when he sent five picks to Cleveland so he could select receiver Julio Jones with the sixth overall pick. Some critics said Dimitroff gave too much for one player — even though Jones made the 2012 Pro Bowl before suffering a broken foot last season.
Dimitroff said he stands by the Jones trade.
“I would never question what we did in ’11,” he said. “I’m completely at ease with what we did as far as adding one of the most explosive players in this league and what he can do for us. Julio was fantastic.”
Dimitroff sounded ready for a similar deal.
“What we’ve learned about reaching on a player or going after a player — excuse me, let’s put it that way — is what we know about this organization,” he said. “… We’re aggressive with what we think can truly help our organization rise to the upper levels in this league, and we’ll continue to be very aggressive with what we deem are very helpful individuals.”
There have been reports Atlanta might try to acquire Houston’s No. 1 overall pick to draft South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
Dimitroff wouldn’t say if he has talked with Houston.
The Falcons, who had the third-fewest sacks in the league, need Clowney’s pass-rush skills. They also need help on the offensive line. The offense ranked last in rushing, and quarterback Matt Ryan was sacked a career-high 44 times as the Falcons finished 4-12, ending a streak of five straight winning seasons.
Falcons coach Mike Smith said last week the top priority of the offseason is for the team to “get bigger and stronger.”
“We need to have big, strong men because the core of the game the game is about controlling the line of scrimmage,” Smith said. “Yes, it’s a quarterback-driven league. Yes, it’s a passing league. But you still have to win the line of scrimmage. That’s something that’s going to be a major focal point as we prepare for the 2014 season.”
Dimitroff said three offensive tackles are regarded as high first-round picks: Auburn’s Greg Robinson, Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews and Michigan’s Taylor Lewan.
“They’re all big, they’re all strong, they’re all athletic, they’re all really good football players with upside,” Dimitroff said. “They all come to the table with something a little bit different.
“Those three tackles are obviously being touted as top-10 players. That’s an amazing thing because rarely does that happen. Usually there are one or two but to have three that are being considered, that’s a positive.”
The Falcons have signed eight free agents, including offensive linemen Gabe Carimi and Jon Asamoah. Other free-agent additions include three-time Pro Bowl return specialist Devin Hester, defensive end Tyson Jackson, defensive tackle Paul Soliai and three defensive backs.
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