'Trader Tom' keeps streak intact as Falcons add offense
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By CHARLES ODUM
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) Through more than a decade as Atlanta Falcons general manager, Thomas Dimitroff has always found a way to make a least one trade during the NFL draft.
Trader Tom kept his record intact Saturday.
For the 11th straight draft, Dimitroff found a willing partner, dealing Atlanta's two seventh-round picks to the Los Angeles Rams for a sixth-round selection used on LSU receiver Russell Gage.
Dimitroff said the offer from Rams GM Les Snead, the former Falcons director of pro personnel, "fell into our laps ... out of the blue."
Falcons coach Dan Quinn, who seemed to enjoy Dimitroff's streak remaining intact, joked that he sent Snead a text just to keep the run going.
Without that call from Snead, Dimitroff said his streak "very well might have ended."
"Honestly, I was kind of in this groove where I was thinking `This is it. We're moving on from the trade,'" he said.
Quinn said it is "fun to watch and see" Dimitroff complete a draft-day deal.
"He is like a quarterback you want to see in a two-minute situation where he doesn't get all frantic," Quinn said. "The clock is running down and he's still talking on the phone. ... It's really in that setting he's at his best."
Dimitroff believed Gage was an important pick for the Falcons, even after the team selected Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley in the first round. Gage is expected to play a key role on special teams.
The Falcons bolstered their offensive depth by selecting running back Ito Smith from Southern Mississippi in the fourth round before adding Gage in the sixth round.
Atlanta closed its draft by selecting Yale linebacker Foye Oluokun later in the sixth round. Oluokun was a hybrid linebacker/safety at Yale and could get a shot at other positions, according to Quinn.
Atlanta focused on defense on Friday's second day of the draft, selecting Colorado cornerback Isaiah Oliver in the second round and South Florida defensive tackle Deadrin Senat in the third round.
LSU REDUX: LSU's draft connection to the Falcons remains strong. Gage gives the Falcons an LSU pick in the draft for four straight years, following linebackers Duke Riley (2017) and Deion Jones (2016) and cornerback Jalen Collins in 2015. Dimitroff said the LSU connection is just a coincidence.
BALANCED DRAFT: The Falcons had three offensive players and three defensive players among their six picks. Ridley was the first offensive player taken in the first round by Atlanta in Quinn's four drafts.
The Falcons selected defensive players with their first two picks in each of the last three drafts with Quinn, the former Seattle defensive coordinator. The last three first-round picks - defensive end Vic Beasley Jr., safety Keanu Neal and end Takkarist McKinley - have helped Quinn reshape the defense. Linebacker Deion Jones, a second-round pick in 2016, has played a key role as well.
JUDGE ITO LOOKALIKE: Smith's real first name is Romarious. So why is he called Ito? The answer provides a surprising connection to O.J. Simpson.
Nobody has said the undersized Smith (5-9, 195) runs like the Juice, but a family member said Smith as a baby looked like the judge at Simpson's famous trial - Lance Ito. Smith, from Mobile, Alabama, was born on Sept. 11, 1995 - when the Simpson murder case captivated the nation.
STILL NEED: One priority not filled in the draft is fullback. The Falcons did not re-sign 2017 starter Derrick Coleman. The team figures to target a fullback among undrafted free agents.
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Updated April 28, 2018