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Falcons GM Dimitroff homeschools for a most important draft

Steve Hummer, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in Football

Now that it is mandated that he work from home, Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff has not cleared out such luxuries as a bed or a kitchen sink to make room for the oversized draft board. He hasn't broken any neighborhood covenants by parking a CIA-surplus satellite truck in the driveway as a backup in case the internet goes out. Not yet anyway.

Earlier this week Dimitroff uprooted his laptop during a media video conference and conducted a quick tour of where he'll help mold the Falcons' future come April 23-25.

Draft Central appeared to be a room off his home office that consisted of a couch and three TV screens mounted on one wall. A guitar rested in the far corner.

The place will be modified into a remote command center by the start of what is another very important NFL draft for a Falcons staff that needs to win to survive. The guitar likely won't be there.

"Look, man, I got that guitar for Christmas and I love it," Dimitroff said. "It looks good, but I haven't learned to play it that well."

He needs to hit all the right notes on this draft, regardless of how unwieldy it will be.

 

In preparing for this scattered draft -- where coaches and execs and scouts are confined to their homes by league fiat -- Dimitroff and the Falcons have, like every other team, been forced to improvise.

For the past several weeks in this environment of isolation, the Falcons' carbon footprint has been radically reduced. In the past, the team fact-finders could just hop on Arthur Blank's private jet and conduct face-to-face interviews with a number of prospective draft picks on any given day and whim. These jaunts have been replaced by video conferences between players, Dimitroff, coach Dan Quinn and even occasionally a team psychologist measuring the makeup between the ears.

There are some limitations to not being able to take stock of a player in person, to not being able to "sniff the pits," of these applicants, as Dimitroff colorfully puts it.

That said, seeing all the work they've been able to do from a distance, the Falcons might apply the experience of this spring to more normal years to come. Maybe they don't need to rack up the air miles of an arctic tern to inspect every pimple of every player.

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