Ex-Patriot exec Dimitroff forging his own path in Atlanta

Ex-Patriot exec Dimitroff forging his own path in Atlanta
February 22, 2013, 3:00 pm
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Thomas Dimitroff has been out from under the Patriots hood for almost five years now.

Which is not to say he left for Atlanta and never looked back. Dimitroff's experience as a New England's national scout (2002) and director of college scouting (2003-07) was invaluable to his career growth. Since leaving, he's felt comfortable consulting former boss Bill Belichick on football matters -- mostly famously (or perhaps infamously) on Julio Jones.

Atlanta had the 27th overall pick in the first round of 2011's draft. Dimitroff wanted Jones, a highly-touted receiver out of Alabama, and knew he'd have to go up to get him. The cost: Sending Cleveland that 27th pick, second- and fourth-round picks in the same draft, and first and fourth-round picks in 2012.

Belichick advised against the pricey trade. Dimitroff did it anyway.

Jones had 79 catches for 1,198 yards and 10 touchdowns in his sophomore season. His GM has zero regrets.

"It's nice to have a full draft pack [this year]," Dimitroff said at the NFL scouting combine. "Though I'd never do it any other way as we did with our move a couple years ago, again, it's nice to jump into the draft with seven, plus two compensatory picks for us."

The move was a definite departure from the Patriots draft philosophy. New England hasn't selected a wide receiver in the first round since taking Terry Glenn seventh overall in 1996. The team prizes value, shies away from sexy picks.

Dimitroff told CSNNE.com that the 2011 trade marked a place to forge his own identity.

"I learned a lot from Bill and [former Director of Player Personnel Scott Pioli] in New England about how to build football teams. And I also knew that when I moved to my organization and was happily sitting in the general manager's seat that I was going to have to bring my own personality, and my own personality in certain areas is different than Scott and Bill, respectfully.

"I know that, given where we were as a team when we made the trade for Julio Jones, we weren't in a spot where we would benefit from sitting on our hands. We had to be aggressive and go after a big-time playmaker and we feel like Julio's evolving into a really nice prospect for us."