The NFL draft represents the best time for teams to shape their future, and find that difference maker they've been missing, not just for the upcoming season, but to help their franchise moving forward. Without a first round pick (given up in the Julio Jones trade), the Atlanta Falcons needed to be a little more creative this April. On a Wednesday night where more teams were finalizing their draft boards, Thomas Dimitroff was working the phones and brokered a trade bringing cornerback Asante Samuel to the Falcons.
That night the team gained more than an immensely talented corner, they gained some heart. Now, Samuel is the best representation of the Falcons' confidence, self-belief, and bravado-- all for a seventh round pick. There was a leadership vacuum on defense when Curtis Lofton left via free agency, and with Mike Nolan stepping in as defensive coordinator, it remained to be seen who the player was going to become an extension of Nolan on the field. John Abraham is a veteran, and a leader, but there was a need for Atlanta to find one more player, hopefully someone in the secondary to become that player.
So far there are no misgivings about who the Falcons are looking to. Speaking to the Associated Press, Tony Gonzalez spoke highly of what Samuel has brought to the table.
"Isn't he great? He's a fireplug. He's given that defense a whole new attitude, just changed the whole atmosphere."
The 31-year old Samuel may only have once interception in 2012, but it's what he's bringing to the unit as a whole that is sorely needed. In time the interceptions will come, but it's instilling a sense of confidence, and self-belief that will help shape the Falcons over the next several years, and that's what any team hopes for when they enter the draft-- Atlanta just did it a day earlier.